First use of the words “Australia” and “Australian” in print, with a monosyllabic “oi, oi, oi” ?
Wednesday, Apr 19, 2023
In this very rare and valuable first English edition of this remarkable imaginary voyage, Jacques Sadeur makes his way to the southern land and discovers in western Australia an idealised society of large-bodied hermaphrodites who live in harmony with one another. This English language printing of 1693 contains the very first usage of the words ‘Australia’ and ‘Australian’ in print. The author, Foigny speculates on all manner of Australian qualities, including speech:
“They never speak but when it is necessary to make continuous Discourses, and to express a long Series of propositions: All their words are Monosyllables, and they have but one Conjugation…They express simple substances by one single Vowel…”
Ordinarily Matthew Flinders is credited as having been the first published author of the name ‘Australia’, as it appears in his Voyage to Terra Australis. However, Foigny’s fantastic story predates this by more than a century. First published in French in Switzerland in 1676 (where it was promptly banned by church authorities), the book was republished in several locations. This important first edition in English of 1693 is notably rare.