Rebuttal by JT (12-May-2009)
Hi- there are a couple of minor factual errors in your posted piece. First, the language Darwin described so brutally could not have been Yahgan, which is quite melodious, but is more likely Kaweskar, the language of York Minster. It is filled with glottalized consonants, which would tend to give such an effect of clicks and grunts. Yahgan has NONE of these! I've been studying the language for ten years (look me up on Google or Yahoo if you want).
Second, Bridges did NOT translate 4 Gospels and Acts- rather TWO Gospels (Luke and John), Acts, the Lord's Prayer, and the Doxology (later John Williams appears to have had published the Morning and Evening Prayers, modified in an orthography that suited him better but perhaps originally from Bridges). I own copies of all these materials, as well as the dictionary (both printed and the manuscripts), grammars, and almost all printed articles on the language.
Unfortunately the Internet tends to see factual errors propagated infinitely- you have no idea how many I see every month.
In any case Darwin was a pretty smart guy on matters biological, but a dummy with regard to social relations and linguistics. Bridges was the reverse- which ultimately led to the deaths of most of the Yahgans because of the poor decisions he made in clothing them, feeding them low calorie foods, and keeping them concentrated all in one place. It let diseases cut them down, and now they are nearly extinct, after having survived for thousands of years without Western interference.