A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 15 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 762 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 15.
ou six languesmeres, respectivement incomprehensibles.  On a observe la meme singularite dans la Siberie et la Tartarie, ou le nombre des idiomes, et les dialectes, est egalement multiplie; et rien n’est plus commun, que d’y voir deux hordes voisines qui ne se comprennent point.  On retrouve cette meme multiplicite de jargons dans toutes les Provinces de l’Amerique Meridionale.” [He might also have included Africa.] “Il y a beaucoup d’apparence que la vie sauvage, en dispersant les hommes par petites troupes isolees dans des bois epais, occasione necessairement cette grande diversite des langues, dont le nombre diminue a mesure que la societe, en rassemblant les barbares vagabonds, en forme un corps de nation.  Alors l’idiome le plus riche, ou le moins panvre en mots, devient dominant, et absorbe les autres.”  Tom. i. p. 159, 160.—­D.]

“However, we must have a far more intimate acquaintance with the languages spoken here, and in the more northern parts of New Holland, before we can be warranted to pronounce that they are totally different.  Nay, we have good grounds for the opposite opinion; for we found that the animal called kangooroo at Endeavour river, was known under the same name here; and I need not observe, that it is scarcely possible to suppose that this was not transmitted from one another, but accidentally adopted by two nations, differing in language and extraction.  Besides, as it seems very improbable that the Van Diemen’s Land inhabitants should have ever lost the use of canoes or sailing vessels, if they had been originally conveyed thither by sea, we must necessarily admit that they, as well as the kangooroo itself, have been stragglers by land from the more northern parts of the country.  And if there be any force in this observation, while it traces the origin of the people, it will, at the same time, serve to fix another point, if Captain Cook and Captain Furneaux have not already decided it, that New Holland is no where totally divided by the sea into islands, as some have imagined."[140]

[Footnote 140:  The reader is aware of the erroneous opinion generally entertained at this time, of Van Diemen’s Land being connected with the continent of New Holland.  He will therefore modify the remark above given, as to its inhabitants being stragglers by land from the more northern parts of the country.  It is of some consequence also to inform him, that in the visit of D’Entrecasteaux, it was found that the people who inhabited the shores of the channel were in possession of bark canoes.—­E.]

“As the New Hollanders seem all to be of the same extraction, so neither do I think there is any thing peculiar in them.  On the contrary, they much resemble many of the inhabitants whom I have seen at the islands Tanna and Mallicolla.  Nay, there is even some foundation for hazarding a supposition, that they may have originally come from the same place with all the inhabitants of the South Sea.  For, of only about ten words which we could get from them, that which expresses cold, differs little from that of New Zealand and Otaheite; the first being Mallareede, the second Makkareede, and the third Mareede.  The rest of our very scanty Van Diemen’s Land Vocabulary is as follows: 

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