Indigenous language puzzle receives missing piece after freak find buried in old book

Caroline Hughes, who researches the Ngunnawal language of the Canberra region, made the find during a workshop last week.

The words, buried in a book held in Adelaide, were drawn to her attention by a relative she met while tracing her family history.

“She mentioned to me in an email last week that she’d found some words in the Adelaide museum,” Ms Hughes said.

“We were able to make that connection and access that information here in Canberra at the National Library.”

Today, iconic South Australian sites such as Lake Eyre and the Eyre Peninsula bear Edward Eyre’s name.

But in the 1830s the explorer also spent time in what is now the Canberra region, where he recorded the local language.

“When anthropologists in the 1800s were speaking to our people, they took down words and interpreted what Ngunnawal people were saying,” Ms Hughes said.

The list, with potentially dozens of previously lost words, will be analysed and compared with existing lexicons.

Read more: ABC News

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