Sunday, August 22, 2010

How to communicate with the natives

Lately I've been spending a lot of time poking around in elderly grammars and dictionaries of Aboriginal Australian languages. Here are a few of my favourite (i.e. most horrifying) finds:

From a language sketch from 1858, the following sentences are translated (since presumably these are the sorts of communications one might need to make with the "natives"):

"Now my blackfellows, make haste and get your breakfast. We will be going."

"Go and fetch them, there's a good fellow!"

"You are lazy! Dry your trousers!"

"Come here tomorrow and cut me some wood and me give you white money."

From a book of a similar age, the paradigm for "you are a harlot, she is a harlot, they are all harlots".

And from the latter book, a word is given that is translated as "intercourse, in both the good and the crude sense".

(And here was me thinking that the "good" sense was the crude sense.)