> 2. How would we know that the name we had chosen for a particular
> actually means the species we assign it too. The majority of
> languages are no longer spoken and the wordlists that were taken down
> taken down, in the main, ,by non-ornithologists, and by people who
> were not
> fluent in the language. Therefore the faunal names in these word-lists
> tend to lack exactness (often in these lists the meaning given to a
> word is
> 'a small bird' or some such).
Regrettably I have to agree with John here, having done a considerable
amount of research in this area myself. See
for a discussion of some of these issues relating to a group of
south-west Victorian languages. Many names can be unequivocally linked
to a "species", but many cannot, and the problem lies both with
inexperienced European data collectors, and with variations between
indigenous and European taxonomies.
> 3. Many of the Aboriginal names for birds are difficult to assimilate
> to the
> phonetic system of English (the original of Gang-gang for example was
> something like Ngang Ngang-not impossible to say, but difficult to say
> easily). If we water down Aboriginal names into 'English-friendly'
> forms, we
> might as well not bother.
Agreed again. I naively thought that I might get some names back into
popular usage, but they are on the whole "too hard", and I can't bear to
hear them butchered by ignorant/careless speakers! There are some
beautiful names in many languages, particularly some of the onomatopoeic
and ecological names, but how would we choose which language name to
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