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Bidawal

Earliest reference to language name: 1846 (Lingard 1846)

Meaning: bidawal means ‘scrub dwellers’

Sub-dialects: none identified.

 

Generally, the people of this region are known as ‘Bidawal’ a likely derogatory description conferred on these people by their neighbours. Tindale (1974) has listed what he believes are variant names of Bidawal. These include Maap (meaning ‘man’), Muk-dhang (meaning ‘good speech’), and Kwai-dhang (meaning ‘rough speech' and thus likely to be a pejorative name). The Brabralung Ganai-speakers also called their language Mukthang ‘excellent speech’ (Howitt Papers n.d.). Of these variants, Muk-dhang and Maap are likely to be valid variant names. Tindale’s reconstruction addresses the issue of the status of the long coastal strip of land east of the Snowy River attributed to Krauatungalung in Howitt (1904), but considered Bidawal by Jemmy Lawson (in Howitt Papers), and Wesson (2002). Like Fison and Howitt (1880), Tindale considered the western side of the Wingan River, and most of the Thurra, Cann, Bemm and Brodribb River catchments to be in Krauatungalung country. This spatial organisation renders the Ben mitter (at Sydenham Inlet and Bemm River) and the Karn (at Cann River) as Krauatungalung. Tindale’s  reconstructions also place the Mallakoterer mitter (east of Mallacoota Inlet), Tinnoor mittong (Genoa River) and Wongererbul (Genoa River near Wroxham) as Bidawal clans. This contradicts the information supplied by Rodney (in Robinson Journal) that they all spoke in the same, Cape Howe (Thawa) tongue. This study supports the conclusion of Fesl (1985) that the Bidawal were landlocked and did not have any coastline as a boundary. The justification for this view comes from linguistic analysis and scrutiny of the ethnohistoric sources on clan organisation along the southeast coast.

 

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