In the 1960s, linguist Robert M.W. Dixon met Albert Bennett, one of the last native speakers of Mbabaram, a vanishing Australian Aboriginal language of north Queensland. “You know what we call ‘dog’?” Bennett said to him. “We call it dog.”
“My heart sank,” Dixon wrote. “He’d pronounced it just like the English word, except that the final g was forcefully released.” He worried that Bennett’s decades of using English had tainted his understanding of Mbabaram.
But Bennett’s assertion was accurate: The Mbabaram word for dog is dúg, which is pronounced nearly identically to the English word, “a one in a million accidental similarity of form and meaning in two unrelated languages,” Dixon wrote.
“It was because this was such an interesting coincidence, that Albert Bennett had thought of it as the first word to give me.”
(Robert M.W. Dixon, Searching for Aboriginal Languages: Memoirs of a Field Worker, 1984.)