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August 2, 2012

I don't know 'kangaroo'

Daily Star

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The word kangaroo has an interesting history, almost as interesting as the findings on an archaeological dig. The word was first recorded by Capt. James Cook when he visited Australia in 1770. When he saw the hopping animal and asked what it was, the answer was "kangaroo." But in Australian aboriginal language the word kangaroo means "I don't know."

When Capt. Philip King recorded a different word "meenuah" for the animal in 1820, it was believed that Capt. Cook's question had not been understood because it was in English, and therefore the answer was "I don't know" because they didn't understand what he was asking.

From that simple interchange a myth grew. This myth became grounds for a study of the northeast Aboriginal language in recent times. The study confirms there is a word ganguru, which refers to a particular species of the animal. The word meenuah that Capt. King recorded translates as "edible animal" which is also true in the culture.

So both were correct, but just as in our language, two words for the same thing with subtly different meanings. It's all in the way you ask the question _ you just don't know how the answer will turn out.

Summer Reading

As you drive through the countryside it's interesting to look at old barns. It you've ever been curious about how they were built, you'll want to read "Barns of New York" by Cynthia G. Falk. Barns were built for many different purposes. Some were for dairying, others for different livestock, and some for crops varying from hay to hops. The history of the design is also explored. There is also a chapter on places to visit, perfect for summer travel day trips.

Lydia Netzer's debut novel is "Shine Shine Shine." Maxon and Sunny met as children and married as adults. Both were considered different as children. Maxon is an engineering genius, programming robots for NASA's colony on the moon. Sunny is pregnant with their second child and things are going wrong left and right. Her mother is critically ill, their first child is autistic, and their marriage is virtually on the rocks. Things come to a head, but will they ever get back to normal?

"The Homemade Pantry" by Alana Chernila contains recipes for 101 foods that you can stop buying and start making at home. Categories include cereals, snacks, spreads, soups, drinks, and more. They'll be fun to make, and you'll know exactly what's in them, with no unpronounceable ingredients.

Learn how to use natural methods to treat your pain in "Naturally Pain Free" by Letha Hadady. There are remedies for backaches, headaches, digestive issues, nerve pain, arthritis and so many more. Some methods use food or drink to relieve pain, others use exercise, while others advocate different means to obtain relief.

Children's Books

There are exactly four words used over and over in Jeff Mack's story. "Good News, Bad News" features Rabbit and Mouse who are going on a picnic. Children will giggle as they read the pictures of the good news/bad news on each successive spread. After reading it to them once, they'll be able to read it over and over to themselves.

Count to 100 with this group of energetic peas in Keith Baker's "1-2-3 Peas." A livelier group you'll never meet as they fish, plant, paint, dance, race, skip and a whole lot more. This will be requested reading more than once, and children may even count to 100 themselves by the time they're done.

Library Hours

Please note the new hours, now in effect. We are closing an hour earlier weekday evenings.

Library Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.

Marie Bruni is director of Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta. Her column appears in the community section of The Daily Star every Thursday. Her columns can be found online at