Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/317

This page needs to be proofread.

Dr. Howitfs Defence of Grozip-Marriage. 303

clear that motherhood for him means something very different from what it usually means. If he does not, and if by " father " he does not mean father in our sense, what is the point of his reply to Mr. Lang's objection, namely, that in using the term "father" Dr. Howitt is making use of a word which includes but does not denote the relationship as understood by us }

Dr. Howitt's position appears to be — that in order to make us in Europe understand the meaning of mungan, to take his own example, he is obliged to tell us that it means father, whereas it does not mean anything of the sort. But that is precisely what Mr. Lang argued in this passage just quoted. If Dr. Howitt does not mean that, if he means that the term father was originally applied to a number of men because the real father could not be distinguished, will he say if he is ready to draw the same inference from the use of a group-term for mother? If he is not, what differentiates these two cases .

This brings me to a point in connection with which I may emphasise my previous contention that first-hand knowledge of the natives is no panacea for erroneous reasoning. Dr. Howitt cites against Mr. Lang the Dieri use of different terms for the primary and secondary spouses.

If this case proves anything, it proves that ngaperi does not mean father, for the terms are applied in the same way whether the primary or the secondary spouse is the real father. Ngaperi clearly does not mean father in our sense, but refers to status in the family, if Dr. Howitt's statement of the case is correct. It seems, however, that ngaperi is applied to all the brothers, own or tribal, of the primary spouse ; if this is so, the term ngaperi zvaka has nothing to do with the pirraiiru relationship at all ; or have the Dieri yet another term for those who are not, but might legally be, pirraiiru to the mother } However that may be, out of Dr. Howitt's own mouth I am able to quote words