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The Road to Botany BayAn Exploration of Landscape and History$
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Paul Carter

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780816669974

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816669974.001.0001

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An Outline of Names

An Outline of Names

(p.1) 1 An Outline of Names
The Road to Botany Bay

Paul Carter

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines the rationale behind Cook’s naming of different places in Australia. It argues that Cook’s choice of names was neither casual nor arbitrary. Although the names did not well up spontaneously from some sort of folk consciousness, it does not mean they have no historical import. Cook’s attitude towards names can be summed up in his first addition to Pacific knowledge, an island, which he called “New Island,” “because it is not laid down in any chart.” This unassuming circumspection embodies his purpose precisely. For Cook, knowing and naming were identical, but there was no question of a direct relation between signifier and signified, any more than an imitative relationship existed between the uncompleted map and the world. To know the world in detail meant preserving its particulars. In this sense, the term “New” is a name. It precisely delimits the conditions under which it came to be known; it resolutely refuses to say anything about the island. The chapter then goes on to discuss how name “Botany Bay” came about.

Keywords:   Cook, Australia, Australian history, place names, Botany Bay, naming

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