The word koori is now well established in Australian English, but it continues to cause confusion and misunderstanding. Many Aborigines dislike the terms 'Aborigine' and 'Aboriginal' since these terms have been foisted on them, and they carry a lot of negative cultural baggage. Not surprisingly, they have looked for alternative words, and instead of `Aborigine' they prefer to use the word for a 'person' from a local language. In order to understand the history of the word koori we need to bear in mind the fact that when the Europeans arrived here there were about 250 languages spoken in Australia. Way back in the past, they were no doubt related, but most of them were as different from one another as English is different from Italian or Hindi. Some languages of south-east Australia (parts of New South Wales and Victoria) had a word - coorie,kory, kuri, kooli, koole - which meant 'person' or 'people'. In the 1960s, in the form koori, it came to be used by Aborigines of these areas to mean 'Aboriginal people' or 'Aboriginal person'. It was a means of identification. But because of the wide variety of Aboriginal languages and cultures, koori has not gained Australia-wide acceptance, being confined to most of New South Wales and to Victoria. Other terms are preferred in other regions: Murri over most of south and central Queensland, Bama in north Queensland, Nunga in southern South Australia, Nyoongah around Perth, Mulba in the Pilbara region, Wongi in the Kalgoorlie region, Yamitji in the Murchison River region, Yolngu in Arnhem Land,Anangu in central Australia, and Yuin on the south coast of New South Wales. For a while people of Tasmanian Aborigines called themselves koories, and then Tasmanian koories to distinguish themselves from the mainland koories. Recently, we have gathered evidence for the term muttonbird koories, a reference to the importance of mutton-birding to their traditional way of life, especially on the islands off the Tasmanian coast. More recently, the tribal or language term Palawa is increasingly being used.

Australian idioms. 2014.

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