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The origin of the word 'kangaroo'

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Judy Bennett
389604.  Tue Aug 05, 2008 1:02 am Reply with quote

In your book you correctly state that the word 'kangaroo' comes from the Guugu Yimithirr (note correct spelling) language and originated from the word 'gangurru'. However, you say that the language was from Botany Bay, which is incorrect. The Guugu Yimithirr nation is in Cape York Peninsula, Far North Queensland. It comprises 32 clan lands and stretches from the Annan River, south of Cooktown, to Princess Charlotte Bay.

Lieutenant James Cook beached his 'HM Bark Endeavour' in what is now Cooktown, in 1770 having damaged his ship on the Great Barrier Reef. He remained in the area for nearly seven weeks. The word 'kangaroo' was first recorded in the ships' journals during this time, and the animal was also drawn by Sidney Parkinson. The journals are held at the James Cook Museum in Cooktown. The first sighting of the animal was on June 24th 1770. They tried to shoot one for quite some time, finally Lieut. John Gore succeeding on July 14th. It was eaten at supper the following day.

Journals from the HM Bark Endeavour at the James Cook Museum in Cooktown. Aboriginal Elder Wilfred (Willie) Gordon, who is a member of the Guugu Yimithirr tribe and a Guugu Yimithirr speaker (and my business partner). My own PhD research on the area's history.

389642.  Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:03 am Reply with quote

Thanks for that, Dr Bennett - that sounds pretty definitive.

Judy Bennett
389863.  Tue Aug 05, 2008 6:00 pm Reply with quote

My apologies to Sydney Parkinson - I misspelt his name in my submission. It should be spelt as above.


390302.  Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:38 pm Reply with quote

G'day there Dr Bennett! I'm down the coast a way further from you in Brisbane. There are a few of us who post in this forum, along with expats and more Aussies are always welcome!

As another poster on this forum is a languages expert, I'd like to do some research into Aboriginal Languages and am wondering if you have any good starting points.

The info on kangaroos is great. I've put up some info about the koala. The emu will probably be next if not done so previously!

Judy Bennett
390307.  Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:53 pm Reply with quote

Sorry - I'm not a language expert. However, if you want some great academic info about the Guugu Yimithirr language then look out for papers written by John Haviland. He's an American academic who lived in Hope Vale for seven years and speaks Guugu Yimithirr fluently.


391536.  Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:27 am Reply with quote

Thanks, I'll look that up, sounds very interesting.

406960.  Sun Sep 14, 2008 12:10 am Reply with quote

reddygirl wrote:
As another poster on this forum is a languages expert, I'd like to do some research into Aboriginal Languages and am wondering if you have any good starting points.

IAD Press publishes a fair bit of material about Australian Aboriginal languages including grammars and dictionaries. Their Eastern and Central Arrernte dictionary is noteworthy for being the only dictionary i've ever come across which has flipbook animations in the margins to illustrate particular gestures.

424702.  Sat Oct 18, 2008 6:08 am Reply with quote

Thanks for that link doujoux!

443552.  Sat Nov 22, 2008 10:00 am Reply with quote

also when that was on on Friday for the Children in Need special, they were discussing this they had a picture of a wallaby, not a kangaroo

539887.  Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:32 am Reply with quote

Just to say that both the egregious Botany Bay error and the misspelling of Yimithirr have been passed on to the publishers for correction in future editions. Especial thanks to Dr Bennett.

As for the errant wallaby, I will inform the proper authorities. Probably one of the Pennine escapees.


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