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Title: Some Aboriginal Place-Names on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales
Contributor(s): Ryan, John S  (author)
Publication Date: 1964
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Abstract: It has often been held that the number of native names occurring within the area of a tribal run depended directly upon the many creeks, waterholes, hills, rocks, or other natural features contained in the area for which there were special associations. In view of the very fragmentary nature of the records it is necessary to analyse the names from several such regions to obtain a reasonably representative overall picture. While the names are, generally, descriptive of the physical scene, they often commemorate particular associations, social and mental, events or situations - all of interest to us to-day. They serve as a mirror of the flora, the fauna, the changing landscape and the social history of the people who occupied regions now utilized in very different ways. While the actual collection of place-name material is a linguistic matter and the isolated toponym gives direct evidence of a linguistic nature only, the names have a generality not to say universality, that is denied to other antiquarian material and lacking in archaeological and historical evidence. By virtue of their spontaneous bestowal and the lack of calculated human interference in place names, they may often be deemed more reliable than uneven observation by historians or indirect inference by archaeologists. They are not merely intriguing as so many laymen often feel, but, after collation and proper presentation, they have an authority which is indisputable. Before embarking on the analysis of the names of the area chosen, I would like to pay a tribute to the work of many in an earlier day in collecting information from the inhabitants of the area in question. Despite inadequate phonetic or linguistic training, they recorded in isolation as accurately as they were able names which coincide to a remarkable degree with other independently verifiable evidence. The unsung heroes of this work are the officials of the Departments of Mines, of Lands and of Police, all of whom listed the odd items of vocabulary and nomenclature which their superiors catalogued in due course. It should be stated that the study is fraught with pitfalls, one of which is that it is not always clear whether a name is a toponym or a generic term. Where there is a reasonable inference that the former type is involved, the name has been included. This has been thought advisable in view of the need to preserve as fully as possible this record of the different modes of thought of the native race and the very different natural ecology and social fabric which all these names perpetuate.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Oceania, 34(4), p. 278-307
Publisher: Oceania Publications
Place of Publication: Sydney, Australia
ISSN: 0029-8077
Field of Research (FOR): 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
040601 Geomorphology and Regolith and Landscape Evolution
160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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