birding-aus Bird raving

To: "John Leonard" <>, "birding Aus" <>
Subject: birding-aus Bird raving
From: Goodfellow <>
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 99 09:43:18 +0930
The right to speak out certainly isn't and hasn't been the norm in many 
cultures, for instance among bush Aboriginal people.  It makes them 
really easy to suppress.  

Political correctness means that a few visible people belonging to the 
dominant culture and having the strings to pull can build a mould into 
which they try to squeeze others with global, national and regional 
consequences.   Over time cultures outside of the mainstream become an 
empty shell of practices acceptable to the wider society.  Minority 
opinions are suppressed.

Have a look at what happens with bird names.  Now obviously the good of 
having common bird names as with any term, is that everyone knows what 
everyone else is talking about.  But this works on a regional basis as 
well.  Members of my Kuninjku language group all know what bird we mean 
by Djagana.   But regional bird names are suppressed by names adopted by 
the wider society, and that includes Aboriginal language names.  Whether 
that's good or bad depends on who you are.  If you're a visitor or 
newcomer to a region you probably want names you are familiar with.  But 
there are unintended consequences, namely the loss of legitimacy of 
regional differences, and languages.   Bird names are  part of the total 
process that causes national, regional differences that helped locals 
make sense of their world, gave them a sense of identity, to be subsumed.

People down south may all agree on calling Jabiru, Black-necked Stork or 
Owl-faced Finch, Double-barred Finch.  Has anyone asked long-term locals? 
 Or bush Aboriginal people?  When it was decided to name Grey Whistler, 
did anyone take into account the fact that our bird is brown?  Not only 
that but the type was taken up here?  

Luckily there are many speakers of Kuninjku and most live out bush where 
the language is somewhat protected.  The world would be far less richer 
for the loss of names such as Kolarawikwik (little brown wader); 
Dillegwegbe (skinny whistling-duck.  There are other names for a fat 

My son's baby Aboriginal name is Jungalu - Ngundi for 'little one, black 
one, barrimundi' or saratoga (despite the fact that he looks more like an 
advert for Hitler Youth with his fair skin and blonde hair).  Only a 
handful of Ngundi speakers are left and the world is poorer for it.  
Denise Goodfellow 

To unsubscribe from this list, please send a message to

Include ONLY "unsubscribe birding-aus" in the message body (without the

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU