Tuesday, 13 September 2016

How Long Have Aborigines Been in Australia

Some people claim that Aboriginal civilisation must have been in Australia for some 40,000 years or more, for there to have been time for the people to spread all around the continent, and for their languages to diversify so much, and boundaries and customs to become entrenched.

But when I was visiting Papua New Guinea, I felt I saw evidence that societal structures such as those can be created and spread quickly - real quickly.

Not too long ago, Tok Pisin didn't exist as a language. Yet in a short time, not only did the language develop, but it spread over Papua New Guinea, and became the national language.

Someone also told me that Tok Pisin has changed so much since World War II, that a publication from that era would be almost unintelligible to some people today - such is the extent of the change which has occurred even only since WWII.

I noticed that one word in Tok Pisin was incorporated into the language from one regional language of Papua New Guinea; and that word had very likely been incorporated into the regional language through contact with seafaring people of the Philippines - and incorporated into the Philippines before that through contact with Spaniards who administered the Philippines from Mexico after going there from Spain. And now it's a national word all over Papua New Guinea.  Look how far that word likely traveled, in a significantly shorter period of time than 40,000 years - and yet it has become entrenched into languages far and wide.

I don't think 40,000 years was required in order for the continent of Australia to become overspread with people, and their languages to diversify, and societal norms to become established in each region. Nowhere near it!

No comments:

Post a Comment