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DS Davidson vocabularies

Comparative vocabularies of nineteen Western Australian Languages. Original: 6 3/4" x 3 3/3" memo sheets. AIATSIS MS 1097, ASEDA item 0712

Languages in comparative vocabulary list

 #    DSD name   Ethnl  Mura                       Mura code
 1    NANGUMARDA NNA    Nyangumarta / Nyangumarda    A61
 2    NYAMAL     NLY    Nyamal                       A58
 3    NGARLA     NLR    Ngarla                       W40
 4    PEDONG     NLR    Bidungu                      A40
 5    WANMAN     WBT    Warnman                      A62
 6    WAJERI     WBV    Wajarri / Watjarri           A39
 7    YABBERU      
 8    KANDARI           
 9    BARDIMAYA  BIA    Badimia / Badimaya           A14
10    TARGUDI           Dargudi                      A56
11    INJIBANDI  YIJ    Yindjibarndi                 W37
12    PANJIMA    PNW    Banjima                      A53
13    KURAMA     VKU    Kurrama                      W36
14    NGALUMA    NRL    Ngarluma                     W38
15    TALAINJI   DHL    Thalanyji                    W26
16    BAIONG     BXJ    Payungu                      W23
17    TARGARI    DHR    Tharrkari / Tharrgari        W21
18    KAGARA            Kuwarra / Koara              A16
19    INGARDA    YIA    Yinggarda                    W19

graph of vocabulary sizes
Number of words recorded by DS Davidson for 19 Western Australian languages


The vocabulary slips apparently include records from Davidson's 1938-40 visit to Australia, although the putative field notes have not been located.  Note the mention by Capell (1940:421,433).  Some information on the geographical location of some of the languages is contained on file slips 264-306, but there is no details of date or place of interviews, nor of any personal names.

After Davidson's death in 1952, Alan Bryan, who was Davidson's student at the University of Washington, purchased some of his library from his widow, who also gave him the boxed vocabulary slips.  Professor Emeritus Bryan is now at Univ. Alberta, Edmonton.

When GN O'Grady was on sabbatical at U. Alberta in 1963, Bryan presented him with the cardboard box containing the file slips. This was held by G.N. O'Grady at Victoria, British Columbia.  The side of the box is labelled "Vocabulary" and the lid is labelled in O'Grady's hand "Davidson, 1930s". O'Grady added the sequence number to each of the 306 slips.

O'Grady (1966:78):
In 1964 Professor Alan Bryan, who acquired the library of the late Dr. D.S.Davidson, made available to me Dr. Davidson's vocabulary file for Western Australian languages recorded over 30 years ago, and including Ngaluma, Ngarla, Nyamal, Pandjima, Jindjibandi and Kurama.  In the preparation of this paper, recourse has been had to the Davidfson vocabularies, …
and in the references 'Davidson, D.S. Comparative vocabularies of nineteen Western Australian Languages (ms).'
Reference: O'Grady, G.N. 1966. Proto-Ngayarda phonology. Oceanic Linguistics 5,71-130

A photocopy of the slips was accessioned at AIAS Library on 24/10/1977 as MS1097. On first page of photocopy: "Davidson vocabularies (undated, evidently late 1920's or early 1930's) donated by G.N. O'Grady".  This photocopy has been cited for instance in Alan Dench's grammar of Panyjima (pp.128,405 in HAL 4, 1991), Thieberger's 1996 Handbook of Western Australian Aboriginal languages South of the Kimberley Region, and Janet Sharp's Nyangumarta Grammar (PL 556, p.31).  (The 1932 date assigned in these citations must have been based on a guess which has proven to be too early.)

The contents of the slips were keyboarded by Dina Thieberger in March 2001 from a photocopy of AIATSIS MS 1097. Proofread by Nick Thieberger. Accessioned to ASEDA as item 0712 Pilbara vocabularies.

GN O'Grady handed the original box and slips to David Nash in July 2001 for deposit at AIATSIS Library.  Accessioned at Library 9/1/2002, add to MS1097. Open access 7/2/2005.  photograph

David Nash in Jan-Feb 2006 compared the 2001 digital file and the original slips where an uncertainty had been indicated, and made some corrections, regularised some structure of the text file, and deposited a PDF and printout at AIATSIS Library.  Nash then imported the lexical part (i.e. omitting ethnonymic items slips 264-306) into a spreadsheet, and further organised the data.


DSD's engma [ŋ] is keyboarded as /ng/; DSD's /ng/ is /n.g/; illegible material is [..];
DSD's symbol (alpha turned 90 degrees anti-clockwise) is keyboarded as /aa/ but is most likely schwa [ə]; diacritic marks (stress marks?) have been ignored; dot under consonant = retroflex.
There are references to a language numbered 23, not in the key supplied by DSD.
Abbreviated references to some other sources (eg F 14e) are sometimes to a publication, e.g. O for Oceania.


Analysis of the vocabularies attributed here to DS Davidson has been supported in part by a contract from Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language CentreMark Chambers, a contractor with Yamatji Marlpa Barna Baba Maaja Aboriginal Corporation, has shared findings about Davidson's time in WA, including alerting me to the mentions in Capell 1940.

DS Davidson page

Australian languages page

© 2006 David Nash
Created: 29 April 2006
Modified: 23 May 2006

URL: http://www.anu.edu.au/linguistics/nash/aust/dsd/vocabs.html