Missionary Translations | State Library of New South Wales

Missionary Translations

John Dunmore Lang

Rev. J.D. LangReverend John Dunmore Lang, 1841 by William Nicholas, Watercolour, P2/68

The Reverend John Dunmore Lang emigrated to Sydney in 1823 from Scotland and was the Colony’s first Presbyterian minister, establishing Scots Church in Sydney in 1826. Lang was active in promoting free emigration from Britain to the colonies, especially Protestant emigration. His belief was that well chosen migrants would produce a moral reformation in New South Wales. He lobbied extensively for the ending of convict transportation to the Australian colonies.

Lang was elected to the Legislative Council in Sydney in 1843 and served on nine select committees. He argued for the separation of Port Phillip and Queensland from New South Wales and believed fervently in the necessity of local self-rule. He encouraged a sense of national identity and looked to a time when all the Australian colonies would be united in one political federation.

The vocabularies included in the Rev. Lang's papers include words from Aboriginal languages in New South Wales, encompassing the Sydney region and Argyll county, incorporating Goulburn and bordered by Lake George. 

Also included are words from the communities around the Endeavour River near Cooktown in Queensland, including a further reference to the word, 'kangaroo'. Language from King George's Sound in Western Australia was also recorded.  

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Transcription: John Dunmore Lang - Papers, 1823-1887, Vol. 9, Personal and Miscellaneous, MLMSS A2229

[Page 1]

Words taken from One of the Natives of Argyll

Ne Yes
Yimmit ganta hungry
Pente ganta very full
Gar ganta cold
Mini ganta warm
Garbinaba bad
Yimama murry very good
Cobia the head
Goulbo the ancle
Gyenn  Gyerm the stars
Gago the moon
Buggri the sun
Cunie a house
Mini a black fellow
Corobang fine, good-looking
Ca-boni beautiful
gau-gau by and bye
Cama a spear
bugry well done
tuggra cold
Aingo a god
matong brave
girn afraid
walla you
moggra a fish
bell don’t
Moungâ this morning
Moungo tomorrow mong
Minimi little
Pickineni a child
Gin a wife
pente bull a murry tuck out

[Page 2]

Yummut ganta walla Are you hungry
Pentiganta mi I am quite full
Garganta walla moungâ Are you cold this morg
ne, murry tuggra yes very cold
Murry miniganta very warm
Aat  caboni Cunie that’s a beautiful house
O murry yemema murry O very very fine
bill yemema murry dat That’s not a good one –
Yimmit ganta mi I am very hungry now
gau-gau-moungô by & bye tomorrow
mury pentibull mi [indecipherable] mury tuck out

[Page 3]

A specimen of the Language of the Aborigines of different parts of the Shores of Terra Australis including Van Diemens Land

Macquarie Harbour V.b island
Parts of the Body    Trees or shrubs   
The Eyes Nam-murūck Banksia Australia - Levi-lack
Nose Meo-une Corroa rufa        - Nur
Ears Goun-reek Mesembryanthenum aquilaterale} Nu-ick
Hair of the head Pipe Bipipe Monotria  lineata Tanguou
beard Rūm Melaleuca  or Teatree} Powne  Rowne
Teeth Mim Acacia sophon Powne  Rowne
Neck Treek-Langaree whose pods are eaten
Arms Yir-a-wig by the natives when roasted} Gur-wêêr
Fingers Wy-marnock A tree Wy-rūin
Elbow Nam-merick A stone Tallop-Lōne
Nipple Nerri-wock A Kangaroo Raguo
Navel Wy-tūne skin Lan-murnock
Knee Nonē Any vessels to carry water, thence the
Toes Peūne glass bottles we gave them are calld, Moke
___nails Wandit Fire Lōpe
Yes Wā-āck  or Wāck
  Come here Argār argār!

King George’s Sound on the SW Coast
Lat 35   Lang 118

Scars on the body Naām-búrn
Fire woods Go-gŏrr
A spear Nam-berr, or Pege - rŏ
A knife  (of quartz) Tāz-ah
Rope Ne-ar-ban-gŏ
Wood  (Plank) Yan-da-ri
Lips Tā
Throat Wurt
Thighs Dtou-al 


[Page 4]

King Geo Sound contd  
Leg Maāt     
Foot Ja-an or bangul
Ear Du-ong                   
Nose Tar-mūil                
Head Mā-ka                  
A porpoise Norduck  
Woman Pay-dgero  or Corman ?                           
Hair of the Head Kaat   
Come here Cou-wāh
Go away Būl-ŏ-cŏ
Shoulder Dja-dan
A musket Pūĕlār
Gum of the Ianthorrhoo or Grape tree Parŕ-im
Tomorrow Manioc
Surprise or
Admiration} Cāi-cāi-cāi-cāi-caigh (the last word
the exclamation of lengthened with the breath
Goose (in our coops) Ca-an-gan
Dog  (spaniel) Ti-a-ra
Eat biscuit Ya-munga-ma-ri
A seal Bā-al-lot
The Sun Djaāt
Teeth Malk grum-emera Or lock
Water  Ba-doō  (suspected to be borrowed from Colonial
vessels touching at K.G. Sound)
Beard Ny-a-nuck
Cheek Ny-a-luck
Mouth ta-lah
Tongue Thalit or Darlin
Arm Wornuck
Nails Perah
Finger nails Peah-mai
Toe nails Perah-kah  or Pera-kēa
Nipple Bepep
Belly Cob-bull or ko-pul
Posteriors Wallar-kah
Privates Yaw d-wit

[Page 5]

King George Sound contd
Kangaroo Be-an-gŏ
a Frog Tōke
Throwing stick Me-a-ra
Stone Hammer Ku-o-it
Eye Meāl
Toes Kea or Kian
Navel Beāl
Elbow Guo-gong
Back Go-ong
A Hawk Bar-le-rot
A Shark Margit
Band of the wosted
of kangaroo fur, forming
a Girdle round their loins} Noodle-but
A fish of a particular kind Wallah

DL The above specimen was obtaind from a native, who, on the visit of His Majesty’s Sloop Bathurst to King geo Sound in 1822, lived entirely on board the vessel and became quite attachd to the crew, with whom he messd daily during the stay of Captain King at Anchor, which exceeded 2 weeks -       It may therefore (when associated with the Natural Intelligence and quick Comprehension of the Aborigine) be concluded very correct. –


Endeavour River East Coast

within the Tropic

Lat 15o.27 So ----     Long 145o 10 East


The short period of Communication with the natives that in the present day, inhabit the shores of this River, altho’ it did not enable us to form a vocabulary of their language, was nevertheless sufficient to allow us to gather a few words from those offensive mischievous savages, who to our surprize did not at all recognize, as a term of their Language, the Word “Kangaroo”


[Page 6]

Endeavour River

which was supplied by themselves of this particular part of the Coast [part of page missing] ago, to the Animal, so generally known by that appellation in Europe and of which the first specimen that was scientifically examined was shot at the River in 1770 on the Discovery of New South Wales by the Immortal Cook, which was described by the eminent naturalists Sir Joseph Banks & Dr Solander, who accompanied that memorable Voyage of Discovery.    – We (in 1820) learnt that the present aborigines call the kangaroo of those forest hills,
           Minuar, Menuār   or perhaps as some pronounced it Mānia   -   The Inference drawn from this circumstance is that probably the present Inhabitants were themselves or their parents from the Interior of the Country originally, that upon making a descent upon the Coast they destroyd the whole of the tribe occupying it, and taking possession of their range of District, introduced of course their own particular Dialect  -        of which the following specimens –

The Eye Caree or Me-ell Canre, Maragah  
Nose Ewerda or Pot-eer (A tree scoopd out)
Ear Milkah Huts       Yer-ka  
Teeth Molyear Quail Karr-kee
Finger Mun-galbah Feather Teer       
Elbow Yer-wee Pigment Doparr
Knee Bongo Hair (hd)  Morroor
Navel or Tolpora or beard Wal-larr
Nipples Coyoberra
Go alone
Go on or
Go away Tat-ee or Tartee
a Friend

It-chew or   Hi-tchew

Upon the parts of the Coasts of Terra Australis, landings were effected, but on which communications with the natives did not afford us an opportunity to gather from them (with certainty) any of their respective Dialects, 


Link to Biraban and Threlkeld page

Magil, Corroboree dance [ca 1819-20], attributed to R. Browne

Watercolour drawing, SV/147