Home > Math Lint Archive Detail

<< Prev 11/30/2014 Next >>


When unable to solve a math problem, you should shout "Kangaroo!"

Captain James Cook, an English explorer, is responsible for our term "kangaroo."

When his ship Endeavor was damaged by the Great Barrier Reef, Cook was temporarily stranded on banks of a river in Australia.

On July 12, 1770, one of Cook's crew, Joseph Banks, saw a strange, jumping animal and asked a native what its name was...

The native replied "kanguru," which Banks carefully wrote in his diary that day.

On August 4, Cook repeated the word "kangaroo" in his diary....which we have access to.

Now, Captain Cook did not know that in the native's language Guugu Yimithirr, "kangaroo" means "I do not know."

Sounds great, right...and a great phrase for stumbling math students.

Unforunately, in 1974, linguist John B. Haviland did research on the language of the Guugu Yimithirr people...and debunked this long-standing myth.