Researching the Daungwurrung language PDF Print E-mail

My name is Bill Nicholson and I am a descendant of the Woiwurrung speaking people.

I have been working on the project for around 5 months now and have found it very interesting. I am researching the Daungwurrung language from central Victoria, around the Goulburn River catchment.

Research can be tedious at times, but also very rewarding. I started researching a list of books compiled by Dr Ian Clark, a well known researcher of Aboriginal history. My research started at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, where some of the information was reasonably easy to access.

A lot of information is in very old books or manuscripts, and these are located in the rare book collection of the library, which can make it difficult to copy.

My main source of information is from the George Robinson journals of the mid 1850's. This is a good start because Robinson did a lot of travelling throughout South Eastern Australia, and spoke to a lot of Aboriginal people. It is also important that information is received from the Daungwurrung people themselves.

Interpretation can be a problem with Aboriginal languages, and I find a lot of the time that the same word is spelt differently by different sources, and occasionally even by the same source. This can make research difficult at times. Also the actual meaning of the words can be changed in the interpretation.

I have set up a database on the Access program to compile the information. At this stage I have approximately 1600 words, and not all of these are Daungwurrung words.

I have located 1600 Aboriginal people where they were seen and any family they had. I have also 63 names of creeks and rivers from the Goulburn district, 212 place names throughout the region, and 206 tribe and clan names throughout most of Victoria.

I also have about 950 early European families for cross- referencing, also 74 short sentences are recorded. All this information will be collated and sorted in the future.

The next part of my research is actually going out in the field collecting information from places like country towns, libraries, historical societies, universities, families, who have been in the area for a long time and catching up with descendants of the Daungwurrung people.

I have regular meetings with three Elders of the Daungwurrung people to let them know how the program is going.After talking with the Elders, we have decided to hold a language workshop, where all ages can learn some of the language in interesting ways.

Bill Nicholson
Daungwurrung Language Researcher.