The Null Device

Kumanjayi Springs

Cross-cultural artefact of the day: ABC guidelines on how to refer to deceased Aboriginal people (PDF), referring to the common Aboriginal tradition prohibiting the use of the personal names of the recently deceased:
People who share the personal name of the deceased person--including English names--will very often temporarily or permanently adopt another personal name.
In central Australia, the construction "Kumanjayi"--and variants--are used to replace the personal name of the deceased, and is very commonly taken on by people who share the same or similar sounding personal name&emdash... Again as an example, the main town of central Australia was referred to by members of some communities as "Kumanjayi Springs", after the death of a woman called Alice. In the latter case, it could hardly be expected a media organisation should follow this practice!

I once read that one reason why the vocabularies Australian Aboriginal languages changed relatively rapidly was that often the names for various things would be changed if they sounded much like the names of recently deceased people.

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