I've watched this very interesting debate from the sidelines so far and
will now contribute my two cents worth. I think much of it relates to
the colonial legacy so apparent in much of Australian ornithology and
inherited by contemporary birders (in the broadest sense of that word).
I think that, for whatever reasons, many people have shied away from
addressing this issue because of (a) the regional variation in (English)
common names, and I note there have been some very valuable discussions
here in the past, and (b) the adoption of indigenous names for birds. As
the recent discussion shows, similar sort of concerns as with English
common names persist - this is hardly surprising as at the time of
invasion there were more than 250 languages/dialects across Australia,
many of which are still in use today - so there is substantial regional
Unfortunately I don't think that this issue has been helped by the
disappointing treatment given to Australian and New Zealand indigenous
names in the various indices of HANZAB and the subsequent publication by
BA, which collected those names in "Some indigenous names of Australian
birds" by John Peter - though I think the introduction provides a useful
starting point for a discussion of indigenous involvement in Australian
This naming issue, like many issues to do with indigenous ornithology in
Australia, has been poorly dealt with and, unlike Tony, I encourage
There may be much to learn from the approaches taken to place names in
Australia - particularly here in the NT. In that regard I note the
protocols and policies at the NT Place Names Committee:
http://www.nt.gov.au/lands/lis/placenames/index.shtml, particularly the
The use of Aboriginal names is encouraged and the collection and
compilation of recorded Aboriginal place names is supported.
Known recorded Aboriginal place names should be made clear where
possible with a historical background, identifying origins etc, more
particularly in their areas of current occupation and traditional
Aboriginal place names from one area should not be applied or transposed
Where the name of a single feature has been published in both Aboriginal
and English forms and both forms are in general use, the Board may
retain both forms, either of which may be used official.
Dual Names - Aboriginal/Non Aboriginal
A dual naming system or use of alternate/alternative names may be used
for the naming of a physical feature where no official or recorded name
exists and where a name change is not possible or acceptable.
Where a dual name is contemplated, research into the English name and
the known Aboriginal name for the feature must determine which name
should be dominant or have priority for "official use" as compared to
the secondary or alternate name (eg. Uluru/Ayers Rock ).
In any combination of languages, the standard orthography will be
adopted in the use of names from the two cultures and should provide
English generic terms in replacement for Aboriginal generic term where
necessary or possible orthographic adaptations of the name."
Of course these protocols, which are for fixed things like hills and
rivers etc rather than highly mobile birds, don't provide all the
answers - but the might provoke some more considered thought and
approaches to the issue of bird nomenclature than we have seen to date.
I've been busy with travel, presentations and planning and will get back
to addressing some outstanding issues with the new Ethnoornithology
Special Interest Group (the ESIG) that BA have decided to host and
support and this is one issue that would seem to me to be appropriate
for the ESIG's consideration.
Best and I hope this has moved this valuable discussion along ...
Alan Gillanders wrote:
"However the Kunwinjku names would not be appropriate down here in
Bundjalung country so we need an official common name that is broadly
Why not? We use names from all over the place in Bandjalung country.
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message:
unsubscribe (in the body of the message, with no Subject line)
To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)