Transcription of Australian Aboriginal Languages - Early Writing

Early Writing

At first, Australian languages were written following English spelling conventions, as it sounded to the writer. This meant that sounds which were distinguished in Australian languages but not in English were written identically, while at the same time sounds which were allophones in Australian languages but distinct in English were written differently.

Most Aboriginal words used in English follow these early conventions, and therefore do not usually give a good idea of how the word was pronounced in the original language.

Transcriptions of Australian languages through time
Language Meaning Early
Pronunciation (IPA) Notes
Guugu Yimidhirr “tongue” unjar (1770)
ngandar (1901)
nganhdhaar (1979)
Gamilaraay “honey” wuddul (1903) warrul (1993)

Writers with more linguistic knowledge sometimes employed symbols such as ŋ or ġ for /ŋ/, ñ for /ɲ/, macrons (¯) or circumflexes (^) for long vowels, breves (˘) for short vowels, but these were often applied inconsistently.

Read more about this topic:  Transcription Of Australian Aboriginal Languages

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