Darkinyung recognition


Darkiñung Recognition An Analysis of the Historiography for the Aborigines from the Hawkesbury-Hunter Ranges to the Northwest of Sydney: [commonly written with English characters as ‘Darkinung’, Darkinyung or Darkinjung]
Authors: Ford, Geoffrey Eric – 1939

Threlkeld: Waiting for Biraban

Waiting for Biraban: Lancelot Threlkeld and the ‘Chibcha Phenomenon’ in Australian Missionary Linguistics

Authors: Wafer, Jim1; Carey, Hilary2

Source: Language & History, Volume 54, Number 2, November 2011 , pp. 112-139(28)


This paper is a historical and linguistic introduction to some of the missionary translations made by the Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld (1788–1859) into the language (sometimes called ‘Awabakal’) of the Hunter River–Lake Macquarie region of Australia’s east coast. It focuses in particular on Threlkeld’s shorter texts, including his ‘Selections from the Scriptures’, which is the earliest published scripture translation into an Australian language. The paper places Threlkeld and his Indigenous collaborator Biraban in their local historical context, and also in the broader context of missionary linguistics. It considers some unique features of this genre, and focuses on cases where missionary compositions provide the only substantial records of an extinct language (the ‘Chibcha phenomenon’). Such cases raise the question of reliability, which we propose can be tested. We use as our example a grammatical feature, the subordinator =pa, to determine the extent to which Threlkeld’s construction of subordinate clauses was idiomatic. We conclude that, in spite of a small number of anomalies, which are probably errors, Threlkeld’s usage appears to have been remarkably consistent with what we know about the functioning of such clauses in Australian languages in general.

Language and History

The next two upcoming issues of Language and History contain papers about the history of work on Aboriginal languages.



        William B. McGregor




Waiting for Biraban: Lancelot Threlkeld and the ‘Chibcha phenomenon’ in Australian missionary linguistics
        Jim Wafer & Hilary M. Carey

George Augustus Robinson and the documentation of languages of south-eastern New South Wales

        Harold Koch

On the margins of Pacific Linguistics: P.A. Lanyon-Orgill

        Ross Clark


Two further papers were to have appeared in this issue, but for logistic reasons have been held off until the next issue, 55/1:


Daisy Bates’ documentations of Kimberley languages
        William B. McGregor

Gaps, transitions, adjoining, embedding: Kenneth Hale on the reanalysis and grammaticalization of the relative clause

        Sylvia Anne Mackie

The Governor’s Wombat

Early history of an Australian marsupial:


Louis J. Pigott and Leslie Jessop

Citation Information. Volume 34, Page 207-218 DOI 10.3366/anh.2007.34.2.207, e-ISSN 0260-9541, Available Online October 2007.


This paper gives an account of the European discovery of an Australian marsupial, the common wombat Vombatus ursinus, with particular reference to the first complete wombat specimen to reach Europe, which survives in The Hancock Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne. The involvement of colonial officials, navigators, explorers, naturalists and artists is discussed.