“Rare” Languages at the State Library of NSW

I quite like the term “rare” languages. It’s much better than ‘exotic’ and it has the connotation of something valuable without necessarily harping on the ‘death’ aspect of language death.

The term ‘rare languages’ was used in a number of media reports on the State Library of New South Wales’ digitisation of early settler Aboriginal vocabularies. The items include the Blackburn Eora vocabulary and Mary Cain’s Coonabarabran district vocab lists from 1920. There are transcriptions as well as images of the originals.

The rest of the site is also worth exploring!

2 responses to ““Rare” Languages at the State Library of NSW

  1. Hmm, Blackburn’s vocabulary has a Eora word “birong” glossed as ‘belonging to’. And this was 1791!

    Since they’ve gone and transcribed the lot, perhaps we should approach the State Library about Kirrkirr’ing, or at least XMLifying these wordlists.

  2. Yes, it seems that birong is a chance similarity (a possibility I first heard from David Wilkins).
    As noted by Philip Jones (2007:17,380n21), the Blackburn vocabulary is mostly transcribed from Dawes: Dawes 2nd book, MS 41645(b) (the first page of vocabulary and part of the third page).
    The SLNSW transcription can be checked by also comparing with the Dawes MS. For instance for ‘The Back’ their “Hurrabul” should be “Kurrabul”.

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