Page:A Descriptive Vocabulary of the Language in Common Use Amongst the Aborigines of Western Australia.djvu/8

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iv PREFACE. intentions of this new people, and possessed of some vague idea of their being spirits, or reappearances of the dead, the natives were restrained, probably by super- stitious awe alone, from attempting to repel the colonists at once by direct and open hostility. On the part of the settlers generally there existed the most friendly disposition toward the aborigines, which was evinced on every suitable opportunity, by the offer of bread, accompanied by the imitation of eating, with an assurance that it was "very good." And thus this term, "very good," was almost the first English phrase used, and be- came the name by which bread was, for a long time, gene- rally known amongst the natives of Western Australia. In the course of time, curiosity, and a desire to establish and maintain a good understanding with them, induced many persons to endeavour to learn something of their language; and lists of such words as had been ascer- tained from time to time were formed by several indi- viduals, but nothing on the subject was published, till, in the year 1833, a person who assumed the name of Lyon gave in the newspapers of the day some account of the structure of the language, and a list of nearly five hundred words. His vocabulary, though containing many inaccuracies and much that was fanciful, yet was deserving of praise, as being the first attempt to reduce to writing a language that was still comparatively unknown. In the mean time, Mr. Francis Armstrong, who