Exposure to Australian Languages through Place Names

Sophie Verass has recently compiled a list of well-known Aboriginal place names and their meanings for NITV/SBS: Indigenous meanings of Australian town names

Although on the surface it’s a mildly interesting article which provides some insight into Australian cultural and linguistic history, it goes a bit further and briefly discusses some of the cultural and linguistic contact of indigenous and white Australians.

The article exposes trends of naming conventions, such as the fact that many place names are actually variations on ‘place’. What especially interests me is the interaction of English with Australian Languages, with some names being created from the English mispronunciation of aboriginal words but also the other way around, like in the case of Toowoomba.

It’s a long article that covers a lot and doesn’t go very in depth but still manages to bring up some interesting linguistic concepts which would hopefully pique the interest of readers enough to have them look further.

Alex McKinlay

Verass, S. (2016)  Indigenous meanings of Australian town names. Retrieved from sbs.com.au website: http://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2016/08/03/indigenous-meanings-australian-town-names

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