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 Word History

A widely held belief has it that the word kangaroo comes from an Australian Aboriginal word meaning “I don't know.” This is not true. The word was recorded in 1770 by Captain James Cook, when he landed to make repairs along the northeast coast of Australia. In 1820, one Captain Phillip K. King recorded a different word for the animal, written “mee-nuah.” , it was assumed that Captain Cook had been mistaken, and the myth grew up that what he had heard was a word meaning “I don't know” (presumably as the answer to a question in English that had not been understood). Recent linguistic fieldwork, , has confirmed the existence of a word gangurru in the northeast Aboriginal language of Guugu Yimidhirr, referring to a species of kangaroo. What Captain King heard, , may have been their word minha, meaning “edible animal.”
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Sist oppdatert: 21.04.2008

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