Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Snippets - walks, books, the Aborigines with a dash of defence

This morning's blog round-up starts with a scathing attack in GeoCurrents, Do “Ultraconserved Words” Reveal Linguistic Macro-Families?, on recent claims about the long term preservation of certain key in language over 15,000 years. It's worth a read.

In Aboriginal Art & Culture: an American eye, Living on Country reviews Melissa Lucashenko’s new book Mullumbimby (UQP, 2013). Set in the Northern Rivers district of the broader New England, the book is part straight story of romance, hard work, friendship, and family, but it also entwines the Aboriginal story. I quote from Will's review:

Land and law are two of the pillars on which Mullumbimby reveals itself; the third in language.  The novel is saturated with Bundjalung and Yugambeh vocabulary, along with more familiar Aboriginal English.  All the animals that inhabit the land are named in language.  The reader quickly learns that jagan means land yumba means home, and gwong means rain; relationships are parsed in Aboriginal terms as well: jahjam (child) and bunji (friend).  Jo thinks and speaks in multiple linguistic registers, just as her relationship to land is sung in multiple scales that span octaves of meaning.

I suspect it's a good book. I plan to buy it for that reason, but also to add to my growing stock of New England books. The reference to language caught my eye as well, for in my weekly history column in the Armidale Express I am presently completing a series on Aboriginal languages,

The columns are not on line and my subscription to the paper is their e-edition. However, Callum (an Aboriginal friend) kindly sent me a scanned version of the first in the series. I thought I would reproduce it as an example of my writing elsewhere. 

First in a series

One nice thing about my research and writing is the way it sometimes supports other things. Caullum and Susan are interested in reviving Anaiwan or Nganjaywana, the Aboriginal language spoken in the Southern portion of the New England Tablelands, so some of my current writing supports that aspiration.

Now if you want to try your knowledge of the world, here is a Google maps based game that will give you your chance. It's harder than it looks. You have to spend a little time looking at the detail. For example, based on Spanish language signs, I put one photo in Spain when it was in Paraguay! The game came to me via the Lowy Institute blog whose Defence White Paper round-up provides a very useful list of responses to Australia's latest Defence white paper.

Over at Ramana's place, Ramana has had an interesting series of posts on interfaith marriage. I am not going to list them now. I want to pick them up later in another post.

In terms of the Aboriginal theme earlier in this post, Neil Whitfield's Two hundred years ago: Blue Mountains NSW looks at an iconic event in the post European settlement of this country from a different perspective. I would like to do that walk, although I got picky on poP1000155(1)ints of detail!

Speaking of walks and historic places, this is a photo of part of the obelisk in Sydney's Macquarie Place. All of the road distances in early colonial NSW were recorded from this point. The distance to Bathurst records the route Neil talked about. The obelisk is meant to mark the start/end of the the Great North Walk to Newcastle. You know, for such a major walk I could not find a single descriptor in or near the obelisk! Maybe I'm just dumb, but I felt quite annoyed!

Well, I have so much more to write, but I fear that I am out of time this morning. I have other things that I must do.       


Rummuser said...

You have now put me on notice!

Jim Belshaw said...

I have indeed!

Anonymous said...


Talking only about language, I don't like the term 'culture nest' employed in your article. Never struck it before, so went googling and it seems to be (yet another) invention of the government investigation/report/initiative you reference?

I just think that's an unfortunate choice; 'nest' to me having connotations that I wouldn't wish to append to what is a very worthwhile (yet another) initiative.

Anyway, fwiw. Which is probably not a lot...


Jim Belshaw said...

No, kvd, that comment is pretty spot on. That is modern public servioe/policy speak!