Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/314

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300 Dr. Howitt' s Defence of Grotip-Marriage.

assertion of the prior existence of group-marriage as an assunnption ; he devotes eleven pages to matter connected with this assumption, but apparently recognises that at the end it remains an assumption still. Except in so far as the assertion of the identity of pirraiirii and group-marriage ( = modified promiscuity), and of the validity of the philo- logical argument for group-marriage, can be reckoned as serious attempts at proof of their position, it may truly be said that believers in group-marriage have confined them- selves to affirming that their view must be right. They never deign to consider in detail the arguments of the other side ; at most they pass them over with the remark that the man on the spot understands all this much better than we can in England, quite ignoring the fact that, if they are thought fallible, it is erroneous logic, not mal- observation, which is laid at their door.

As to group-marriage being a necessary inference from the use of group terms, we may ask: (i) Has Dr. Howitt or any one else ever produced any direct evidence that people in the noa relation were ever de facto and de jure in the position of husbands and wives to each other in any way in which they are not at the present time ? (2) Has Dr. Howitt or any other believer in group-marriage ever taken any notice of the argument that noa means "marriageable" not "married"? (3) Has Dr. Howitt or anyone else ever replied in detail to any of the objec- tions ^ which have been urged against the group-marriage theory } If so, will he oblige me by giving the reference }

In asserting the validity of the argument from termino- logy, Dr. Howitt strangely overlooks more than one fact, (i) He has himself asserted, apropos of the Kurnai, that terminology is an uncertain basis ; (2) an alternative rendering of noa (" marriageable," instead of " married ") has been proposed ; (3) if we conclude from the absence of terms for father and other individual relationships that the ^ Lang, Secret of the Totej/i, pp. 38, 39.