Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
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Kaurna, the language of the Adelaide Plains, is an awakening language undergoing revival since 1989 (Amery 2016). Though little knowledge of Kaurna remains in the oral tradition and no sound recordings of the language as it was spoken in the nineteenth century exist, a surprising number and range of emotion terms were documented. A great many of these involve the ‘liver’ followed by ‘chest’, ‘lungs’, ‘throat’ and ‘forehead’, whilst ‘brain’ and ‘ear’ are involved in cognition. The role of ‘heart’ is minimal. But these are not the only means to talk about emotions. ‘pit of the stomach’, a more elusive term, which may or may not be located in a body part and ‘seed’ are also central to emotions. These three terms ‘liver’, ‘pit of the stomach’ and ‘seed’, appear to be viewed by Teichelmann & Schürmann (1840) and especially Teichelmann (1857) as seats of emotion. In addition, there are a range of other means to express emotion, simple verbs and interjections.

This paper will discuss in detail the historical documentation, its interpretation and the ways in which this documentation is used today. In the context of re-introducing a reclaimed language, such as Kaurna, how to talk about emotions can become the topic of serious and sometimes unresolved debate. The title of a book of poetry (Proctor & Gale 1997) ended up having two translations, one involving ‘liver’ and the other ‘heart’. Historical phrases expressing emotions are often co-opted in names, speeches, poetry and written texts.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): awakening language; Kaurna; the chest; the liver; the lungs
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