Luise Hercus

Luise Hercus (née Schwarzschild) was born in Munich in 1926 and was educated in England from 1939. She was a Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford, having studied both Modern Languages and Oriental Studies. In 1962 she began working independently on salvage work in Aboriginal Languages, studying languages that were on the brink of extinction. She has continued this work ever since with help from the ARC and AIATSIS. She was Senior Lecturer and then Reader in Sanskrit at The Australian National University from 1969 to 1991. Since then she has been Visiting Fellow in the Department of Linguistics, School of Language Studies, ANU, writing up grammars, dictionaries and traditional texts, and continuing fieldwork mainly in the north of South Australia and adjacent areas of New South Wales and Queensland.

Indigenous and Minority Placenames »

Australian and International Perspectives

This book showcases current research into Indigenous and minority placenames in Australia and internationally. Many of the chapters in this volume originated as papers at a Trends in Toponymy conference hosted by the University of Ballarat in 2007 that featured Australian and international speakers. The chapters in this volume provide insight into the quality of toponymic research that is being undertaken in Australia and in countries such as Canada, Finland, South Africa, New Zealand, and Norway. The research presented here draws on the disciplines of linguistics, geography, history, and anthropology. The book includes meticulous studies of placenames in central NSW and the Upper Hunter region; Gundungurra cave names; western Arnhem Land; Northern Cape York Peninsula and Mount Wheeler in Queensland; saltwater placenames around Mer in the Torres Strait; and the Kaurna in South Australia. For more information on Aboriginal History Inc. please visit aboriginalhistory.org.au.

Aboriginal Placenames »

Naming and re-naming the Australian landscape

Aboriginal approaches to the naming of places across Australia differ radically from the official introduced Anglo-Australian system. However, many of these earlier names have been incorporated into contemporary nomenclature, with considerable reinterpretations of their function and form. Recently, state jurisdictions have encouraged the adoption of a greater number of Indigenous names, sometimes alongside the accepted Anglo-Australian terms, around Sydney Harbour, for example. In some cases, the use of an introduced name, such as Gove, has been contested by local Indigenous people. The 19 studies brought together in this book present an overview of current issues involving Indigenous placenames across the whole of Australia, drawing on the disciplines of geography, linguistics, history, and anthropology. They include meticulous studies of historical records, and perspectives stemming from contemporary Indigenous communities. The book includes a wealth of documentary information on some 400 specific placenames, including those of Sydney Harbour, the Blue Mountains, Canberra, western Victoria, the Lake Eyre district, the Victoria River District, and southwestern Cape York Peninsula. For more information on Aboriginal History Inc. please visit aboriginalhistory.org.au.

The Two Rainbow Serpents Travelling »

Mura track narratives from the ‘Corner Country’

Authored by: Jeremy Beckett, Luise Hercus
The ‘Corner Country’, where Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales now converge, was in Aboriginal tradition crisscrossed by the tracks of the mura, ancestral beings, who named the country as they travelled, linking place to language. Reproduced here is the story of the two Ngatyi, Rainbow Serpents, who travelled from the Paroo to the Flinders Ranges and back as far as Yancannia Creek, where their deep underground channels linked them back to the Paroo. Jeremy Beckett recorded these stories from George Dutton and Alf Barlow in 1957. Luise Hercus, who has worked on the languages in the area for many years, has collaborated with Jeremy Beckett to analyse the names and identify the places. For more information on Aboriginal History Inc. please visit aboriginalhistory.org.au.

The Land is a Map »

Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia

Edited by: Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges, Jane Simpson
The entire Australian continent was once covered with networks of Indigenous placenames. These names often evoke important information about features of the environment and their place in Indigenous systems of knowledge. On the other hand, placenames assigned by European settlers and officials are largely arbitrary, except for occasional descriptive labels such as ‘river, lake, mountain’. They typically commemorate people, or unrelated places in the Northern hemisphere. In areas where Indigenous societies remain relatively intact, thousands of Indigenous placenames are used, but have no official recognition. Little is known about principles of forming and bestowing Indigenous placenames. Still less is known about any variation in principles of placename bestowal found in different Indigenous groups. While many Indigenous placenames have been taken into the official placename system, they are often given to different features from those to which they originally applied. In the process, they have been cut off from any understanding of their original meanings. Attempts are now being made to ensure that additions of Indigenous placenames to the system of official placenames more accurately reflect the traditions they come from. The eighteen chapters in this book range across all of these issues. The contributors (linguistics, historians and anthropologists) bring a wide range of different experiences, both academic and practical, to their contributions. The book promises to be a standard reference work on Indigenous placenames in Australia for many years to come.