Captain Cook’s first voyage journal (C) and contemporary corrections of it (H)


The point?

·         An example of prescriptivism in process

·         and of colonialism!

·         also illustrates some typical EModE variation

·         double negation

·         nouns without –s plurals

·         variant forms of strong verbs

·         auxiliary be with intransitive verbs like come (like French)

·         no passive progressive yet (“while his teeth were being pulled out”)

·         adverbs without –ly


Noun morphology


C: for in the boat were Turtle, Fowls, Birds, &c.

H: for in the boat were turtle, fowls, ducks, parrots, paroquets, rice-birds, monkies, and other articles,


C: We hauled the Sene in several places in the River but caught only a few mullet [H: mullets]


C: The Kangura are in the greatest number for we seldom went into the Country without seeing some.

H: There does not indeed seem to be many of any animal, except the kanguroo.


Verb morphology


C: but now I thought it more prudent to tack and spend the night under the Island Mowtohora where I knowd [H: knew] there was no danger.


C: I found this point to lay [H: lie] directly under the Tropick of Capricorn and for that reason call’d it by that Name.


C: and if by neglect he looseth [H: loseth] any of his Arms or woorking tools, or suffers them to be stole [H: stolen]


C: it is apparent from the Obserd Latitude that we have been drove [H: driven] 3 Leagues to leeward sence yesterday


C: at 11 a light breeze sprung up [H: sprung up] from the westward




C: this Bay ... affords plenty of exceeding good wood and water

H: it affords plenty of exceeding good wood and water


C: The land on the East side of the broad part of this River is tollerable high and hilly

H: On the east side of the broad part of this river the land is tolerably high and hilly


C: for we saw them carried aCross the river in a Catamaran and walk leasurely off with the other natives.

(Banks: the 3 boys .. nimbly ran and joind the party who walked leisurely away)

H: our three prisoners ... ran nimbly back and joined their companions, who walked leisurely away


Syntax within phrases


C: we saw two turtle but caught none nor no sort of fish or wild fowl except a few small land birds

H: we saw two turtles, but we were not able to take either of them: neither did we catch either fish or wild-fowl, except a few small land-birds


Verb aspect


C: Whilest the post was seting up we asked the old man about the Strait or passage into the Eastern Sea

H: While the post was setting up, we enquired of the old man concerning the passage into the eastern sea,


C: I next, by means of Tupia, explained to the old man and several others that we were come [H: were come] to set up a mark upon the Island


C: after these were gone out of the Ship the others became so troublesome that in order to get rid of them we were at the expence of 2 or 3 Musquet Balls and one 4 pound shot

H: but when these were gone out of the ship, the others became exceedingly troublesome