vernacular names

Frederick W. Schueler bckcdb at ISTAR.CA
Thu Jul 24 11:39:11 CDT 2003

Richard Jensen wrote:
> In the early 20th century, Evelyn Waugh wrote a novel called Scoop.  It involves an English reporter who is sent to Africa to cover a manufactured revolution.  The natives of the fictional country, when asked about the locality of the capital, replied, in their own language, "I don't know".  This became the name of the capital for all subsequent news stories filed with the home office.  Could this be the origin of the myth below?

* that's a marvelous book, but I think Waugh was parodying the story
(myth?) that 'kangaroo' was Cook's transcription of some Australian
expression of befuddlement, rather than the actual local name of what
came to be known as Macropus. What's the current scoop on the
authenticity of this story? (at one reads: "In the
Guugu Yimidhirr language, spoken by the aboriginals of the area where
Captain Cook's party recorded the term kangooroo, this word refers to a
particular species of kangaroo, namely the large black kangaroo. The
only error Cook's party can be accused of is mistaking the name of one
variety of kangaroo for the generic term," as well as some parallel
geographic instances.

           Bishops Mills Natural History Centre
Frederick W. Schueler, Aleta Karstad, Jennifer Helene Schueler
      RR#2 Bishops Mills, Ontario, Canada K0G 1T0
   on the Smiths Falls Limestone Plain 44* 52'N 75* 42'W
     (613)258-3107 <bckcdb at>
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