Von Brandenstein's turtle: Expanding histories of interaction between Indigenous Australians of the Northern Pilbara and Islanders of Eastern Indonesia
Author(s): Antoinette Schapper
This is an abstract from the session entitled "Seacountries of Northern Australia and Island Neighbours", at the 2023 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.
In the 1970s, the linguist Carl-Georg von Brandenstein claimed that the Portuguese had established a "secret colony" in the Pilbara. He argued that linguistic material from Indigenous Australian languages of the northern Pilbara which looked to be Portguese in origin supported his hypothesis. Archaeological research has not corroborated von Brandenstein's claims and the idea of a Portuguese settlement in the Pilbara has been categorically rejected from the realms of possibility. And yet, the presence of Portuguese loanwords in the languages of the northern Pilbara remains unexplained. The most convincing candidate in von Brandenstein's list is the word tartaruga or thartaruga for 'turtle' in various Pilbara languages including Ngarluma, Karierra, Ngarla, Yinjibarndi, and Nyamal, a form near-identical to the Portuguese word. In this paper, I show that these and other lexical items in the north Pilbara are best explained as the result of contact with Malay speakers from the Moluccas.
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Von Brandenstein's turtle: Expanding histories of interaction between Indigenous Australians of the Northern Pilbara and Islanders of Eastern Indonesia. Antoinette Schapper. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Lisbon, Portugal. 2023 ( tDAR id: 475815)
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