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Russell Hoban (children’s writer, 1925-2011 – cf. Haffenden 1985: 138):

Language is an archaeological vehicle, full of the remnants of dead and living pasts, lost and buried civilizations and technologies.

The language we speak is a whole palimpsest of human effort and history.



‘Mr Forster afterwards adverted to the present mode of teaching the children in their own language. He, with all respect to the Missionaries, would say, on several grounds, that this was wrong. 

The natives would be sooner civilized if their language was extinct. 

The children taught would afterwards mix only with whites, where their own language would be of no use – the use of their language would preserve their prejudices and debasement, and their language was not sufficient to express the ideas of civilized life.  He gave the Missionaries full credit for their talents and zeal, but he thought it would be better to teach the children in English.’

(Report on a public meeting of the South Australian Missionary Society in aid of the German Mission to the Aborigines, Southern Australian, 8 September 1843, p. 2, cf. Scrimgeour 2007: 116)  



‘The merchant in London who lays on a vessel for a certain port, regards the affair as a mere mercantile speculation, but could he trace out the results he effects in their remotest ramifications, he would stand astonished at the changes he produces.  With the wizard wand of commerce, he touches a lone and trackless forest, and at his bidding, cities arise, and the hum and dust of trade collect – away are swept ancient races; antique laws and customs moulder into oblivion.  The strong-holds of murder and superstition are cleansed, and the Gospel is preached amongst ignorant and savage men. 

The ruder languages disappear successively, and the tongue of England alone is heard around.’

Anthony Forster (1813-1897) colonist, financier  and politician    

South Australian Governor

George Grey

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