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News & views

‘Kangaroo’

[1 December 2011] The prissy opinion that English is a pure tongue to be saved from foreign taint is difficult for anyone to maintain, though some do their valiant best. Proof is everywhere that we speak a mongrel language that’s been spliced with other gene pools, eg caravan (Persian), bungalow (Hindi), and trek (South African Dutch).

The Times says ‘kangaroo’ derives from ‘gangurru’ in the Aboriginal language Guugu Yimithirr. As a sometime breeder of cage birds, I recall that ‘budgerigar’ derives from Aboriginal words that may mean ‘good to eat’. You’d need quite a few to make a decent meal, though. [MC]

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