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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Multiple Aboriginal Place Names in Western Victoria, Australia

Author(s):
I D Clark
University of Ballarat, Australia

In a recent paper on transparency versus opacity in Australian Aboriginal place names, linguist Michael Walsh (2002: 47) noted that in ‘Aboriginal Australia it is relatively common for a given place to have multiple names’. In providing an overview of multiple naming practices Walsh (2002: 47) stated the ‘simplest case is one place having two names. Such doublets can be intralectal or crosslectal. For intralectal doublets where there are two names for the one place in the same lect, both placenames may be opaque, both transparent, or one opaque and one transparent. … The same applies to crosslectal doublets where two names for the one place come from different lects’. Walsh (2002) observed that he was unclear on how multiple naming works and what its function is. Other than some case studies (Schebeck 2002 re Flinders Ranges, Sutton 2002 re the Wik region, Cape York, and Tamisari 2002), we are yet to gain a comprehensive picture for Aboriginal Australia. This paper adds to this discussion through a consideration of multiple naming in western Victoria using the results of research conducted by Clark and Heydon (2002) into Victorian Aboriginal place names. The paper also considers the policy implications of multiple indigenous naming for place name administration in Victoria. Victoria has adopted a dual naming policy that recognises a non-indigenous and an indigenous toponym for the one place but is yet to accept multiple indigenous naming.

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