384 PRESENT STATE AND FUTURE PROSPECTS part iv
for ever impossible. These tribes, surrounded as they are by men of different faiths and alien races who despise them and regard them as little better than brute beasts, have no recorded history; barely a few allusions to their mere existence are to be found in Malay literature, and practically nothing whatever is on record that can throw any light on their origin and antecedents. It is to their physical structure, their customs, and above all to their languages that we must turn if we would gain any insight into their past.1
Such is the somewhat pathetic interest which attaches to the languages of these forest-dwellers; and though the study of them is not likely to be of practical use to any living soul, yet, embracing as they do the modes of speech of some of the least developed and most thoroughly wild and uncivilised members of our race, it is perhaps natural that they should form a fascinating subject of inquiry.
Apart from this, however, they are of considerable importance in relation to the study of language in general, and of the languages of South-eastern Asia in particular, for they are connected in a peculiarly intricate way with several groups of these languages, some of which have hitherto been almost entirely neglected or at least very inadequately studied. Situated at the extreme end of a vast continent, these a aboriginal a tribes of the Malay Peninsula represent the disjecta membra of several distinct portions of the human race, and their languages are a curious blend of the most strangely amalgamated constituents.
1 Cf Logan, J. /. A. vol. i. pp. 290, 291.1 Cf Logan, J. /. A. vol. i. pp. 290, 291.