Laves goes to Arnhem Land

I’ve been recopying a few bits of the Laves texts that were too hard to read, so I thought I’d also have a look at what he got from the “Miliŋinbi tribe”.

It’s Djambarrpuyŋu, which is interesting because a) Miliŋinbi is Ŋurruwulu, which is Yan-nhaŋu, and b) because Gupapuyŋu was the prestige language there until the early 1980s. This is only 4 years after the mission was founded.

His transcription is , to be honest, less reliable then the Bardi recording. His notation of voicing is dodgy, he almost completely ignored laminalisation, and there’s no vowel length. That also is interesting, because his ear isn’t usually regarded to be this unreliable.

His work on Yidiny was dismissed by Dixon as pretty bad. There’s a note on the first Yidiny page: “decidedly English pronunciation.” Perhaps the poor transcription wasn’t all Laves’ fault.

“In back”, after the survey of Kukpi:umu and Normanton etc languages, was the Christmas Card list. His Personal Baggage:

slips and notebooks – two suitcases
suits – blue, brown, tweed, tuxedo
topcoat, bathrobe

He is clearly grouping languages: he has ‘southern’ and ‘northern’ features, and identifies Meryam Mir as ‘Papuan’.


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