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Aboriginal language

Smaller local groups were the basic units of Aboriginal society. These groups shared cultural traits and had economic and ceremonial dealings with other groups, but they did not congregate for such purposes as warfare or conquest.

In many regions an individual, by virtue of birth, belonged to a clan that was closely associated with, or "owned," in a certain sense particular areas of land.

Through other kinship ties, and through marriage, an individual acquired rights in several areas of land.These relationships, along with residence and travel for economic reasons, produced a complex pattern of land identification with local areas.

The result was that all parts of Australia, while not always wholly occupied at any one point in time, were claimed by Aboriginal individuals and groups under a customary system of land-tenure law.

The primary structures of Aboriginal society are, and were, based on kinship. Every person was considered to be kin, either by blood ties or fictively. Terms of reference for others were almost always those of kinship a "kind of mother," a "kind of brother," and so on.

With these relationships came rights, obligations and appropriate ways of behaving. This kinship provided a baseline from which to operate in the society. One cultural trait normally shared by several local groups was that of language. Aboriginal languages were fully developed systems of communication that allowed the expression of concepts as sophisticated as those in any language.

Multi-lingualism is not new to Australia as, prior to I788, about two hundred distinct languages were spoken, further divided into many hundreds of dialects.
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