Jaminjung and Ngaliwurru
The phonology of Jaminjung and Ngaliwurru is similar to that of other Australian languages: they have a small inventory of vowel phonemes /i/ , /a/, and /u/, and a relatively large number of place distinctions for consonants. Again, rather characteristically, there are no fricatives and no sibilants and the voicing of the occlusives is not distinctive.
Jaminjung and Ngaliwurru share many of their main characteristics with other non-Pama-Nyungan languages. They are said to have free word order in the sense that the ordering of the arguments in relation with the verb does not reflect their syntactic function but is rather motivated by pragmatic considerations. Argument roles are shown by bound pronominals which attach to the verbs as prefixes and by case markers which attach to constituents of noun phrases as suffixes. Lexical arguments can be freely omitted in a clause.
Jaminjung and Ngaliwurru have complex predicates, a distinctive characteristic of the linguistic area where they are spoken. These complex predicates consist of inflected verbs, forming a closed category of around thirty members, which associate with members of an uninflected class of words, referred to in the literature as coverb, preverbs, or uniflected verbs. The coverbs often carry the major semantic load in the complex predicates.
There is a lack of distinction between nouns and adjectives. There are very few derivational suffixes and when they do occur, they usually do not change the class of the word to which they attach. Finally, reuplication is frequent in both nominals and in coverbs.
|‘I left my dog back home’|
|‘I am going to turn over now, (and) I will lie on my belly then’|
|‘A big wind is coming’|
Gurindji is a suffixing Pama-Nyungan language spoken in the north-west of Australia, particularly in Kalkaringi and Dagaragu. It is a member of the Ngumpin subgroup of languages which includes Ngarinyman, Bilinara, Malngin, Mudburra, Nyininy, Wanyjirra, Jaru and Walmajarri. Gurindji is an endangered language, with only 60 speakers remaining in 2003. Gurindji Kriol is the language transmitted to the new generation at present.
Phonologically, Gurindji is a fairly typical Pama-Nyungan language. It contains stops and nasals which have five corresponding places of articulation (bilabial, apico-alveolar, retroflex, palatal and velar), three laterals (apico-alveolar, retroflex, palatal), two rhotics (trill/flap and retroflex continuant), two semivowels (bilabial and palatal) and three vowels (a, i, u). Combinations of semivowels and vowels produce diphthong-like sounds. Like most Pama-Nyungan languages, Gurindji is notable because it contains no fricatives or a voicing contrast between stops. Stress is word initial, and syllables pattern CV, CVC or CVCC.
Grammatial relations in Gurindji are not indicated by word order (which is influenced by information structure). Instead arguments are indicated by case-marked nominals. Nominals pattern according to an ergative-absolutive system. Other case markers are dative, locative, allative, ablative, terminative, perlative. Gurindji nominals are also marked by many derivational and adnominal suffixes.
Arguments in Gurindji are also cross-referenced by pronominal clitics which distinguish number (minimal, unit augmented, augmented) and person (1st, 2nd and 3rd), with 1st person non-minimal pronouns also making an inclusive/exclusive distinction. Where two referents are referred to, they are often encoded in a single synchronically unanalysable pronoun. Third person singular pronouns are unexpressed. The pronominal clitics pattern according to an accusative system, unlike nominals which pattern according to an ergative system. In this respect, Gurindji can be described as a split ergative language.
The verb phrase consists of an inflecting verb which contributes tense, aspect and mood information to the clause, and a grammatically non-obligatory coverb which provides the majority of the semantics of the complex verb. Coverbs are largely uninflected except for a continuative suffix, and case-markers in subordinate clauses.
Some examples demonstrating the structure of Gurindji are given below:
|‘The frogs bit them on the hand.’|
|‘I’m here talking to Nangari.’|
|‘After that we turn them over above (the fire) and it smokes their back right down to their bottoms.’|
Bilinarra and Ngarinyman
Bilinarra and Ngarinyman are suffixing Pama-Nyungan languages spoken in the north-west of Australia, particularly in Pigeon Hole and Yarralin, but also in communities around Timber Creek, in Ngamanbidji (Kildurk), and in Katherine and Kununurra. They are closely related; moreover Ngarinyman speakers say that there are several varieties of Ngarinyman including Wurlayi (Wurli). These varieties are members of the Ngumpin subgroup of languages which also includes Gurindji, Malngin, Mudburra, Nyininy, Wanyjirra, Jaru and Walmajarri. Toda there are only few speakers of both Bilinarra and Ngarinyman.
Phonologically, Bilinarra and Ngarinyman are typical Pama-Nyungan languages. They have stops and nasals which have five corresponding places of articulation (bilabial, apico-alveolar, retroflex, palatal and velar), three laterals (apico-alveolar, retroflex, palatal), two rhotics (trill/flap and retroflex continuant), two semivowels (bilabial and palatal) and three vowels (a, i, u). Combinations of semivowels and vowels produce diphthong-like sounds. Like most Pama-Nyungan languages, Bilinarra and Ngarinyman are notable because they do not have fricatives or a voicing contrast between stops. Stress is word initial, and syllables pattern CV, CVC or CVCC.
Grammatial relations in Bilinarra and Ngarinyman are not indicated by word order (which is influenced by information structure). Instead arguments are indicated by case-marked nominals. Nominals pattern according to an ergative-absolutive system. Other case markers are dative, locative, allative, ablative, terminative, and perlative. Bilinarra and Ngarinyman nominals are also marked by many derivational and adnominal suffixes.
Arguments in Bilinarra and Ngarinyman are also cross-referenced by pronominal clitics which distinguish number (minimal, unit augmented, augmented) and person (1st, 2nd and 3rd), with 1st person non-minimal pronouns also making an inclusive/exclusive distinction. Pronouns with two referents are often synchronically unanalysable. Third person singular pronouns are unexpressed. The pronominal clitics pattern according to an accusative system, unlike nominals which pattern according to an ergative system. In this respect, Bilinarra and Ngarinyman can be described as split ergative languages.The position of pronominal clitics is variable: most frequently, they follow the first word or constituent of a clause/intonation unit, but other positions are also found, depending on the information structure of the clause.
The verb phrase in Bilinarra and Ngarinyman usually consists of an inflecting verb which contributes tense, aspect and mood information to the clause, and a coverb which provides the majority of the semantics of the complex verb, though inflecting verbs may appear on their own. Coverbs form an open class and are largely uninflected except for a continuative/iterative suffix, and case-markers in subordinate clauses. Inflecting verbs form a closed class with approximately 25 members.
Some examples demonstrating the structure of Bilinarra and Ngarinyman are given below:
|That child drinks the antbed slurry mix.|
|They will bathe them in the warm medicinal mix.|
Gurindji Kriol is spoken by Gurindji people who live in northern Australia at Kalkaringi and Daguragu. Gurindji Kriol has also spread north to Pigeon Hole and Yarralin which are home to Bilinarra and Ngarinyman people predominantly. Traditionally they were speakers of Bilinarra and Ngarinyman, which are mutually intelligible with Gurindji. Gurindji Kriol is the main language of younger people at Kalkaringi and Daguragu. It is being acquired by children rather than traditional Gurindji and it is used by all people under the age of approximately 35 years as their main everyday language. However, it is likely that with increasing mobility, later generations will shift to Kriol or English.
Gurindji Kriol is derived from contact between non-indigenous colonisers and the Gurindji people. From the early 1900s onwards, Gurindji people were put to work on cattle stations in slave-like conditions. The lingua franca of the cattle stations was an English-based pidgin which was brought by the colonisers and imported Aboriginal labour from more eastern cattle stations. The station owners and Aboriginal workforce used this pidgin to communicate with each other, however the communicative domain of the pidgin shifted to be used amongst the Gurindji and it begun to be acquired as one of the first languages by children and to develop a full-fledged grammar. This process occurred on many stations and missions across northern Australia and the resulting language is now known collectively as ‘Kriol’. In many of these situations, Kriol became the main language of Aboriginal groups, replacing the traditional languages. In the case of the Gurindji, a mixed language emerged. In the 1970s, code-switching between Kriol and Gurindji had become the dominant language practice of Gurindji people. Thirty years later these mixing practices have stabilised into an autonomous language system.
The result of the fusion between Gurindji and Kriol is a language which is lexically and structurally very mixed. In terms of the lexicon, Gurindji provides words for body parts, plants, traditional artefacts, motion, bodily functions and impact. Words for basic verbs, colours, higher numerals and modern artefacts are derived from Kriol. Both languages contribute words for people, kin, food, animals and lower numerals. For example, in the domain of kinship terms, Gurindji contributes the words for grandparents, siblings, cousins and in-law relations while Kriol contributes words for mother, father, aunt, uncle, husband and wife.
This level of mixing is also reflected in the structure. Word order, TAM markers, negation, pronouns, interrogative pronouns, determiners, coordinate conjunctions and relative pronouns are derived from Kriol. Gurindji contributes inflectional and derivational morphology in the nominal domain, emphatic and possessive pronouns, demonstratives, subordinate structures, interjections and directionals.
Example 1 (b) below illustrates Gurindji Kriol’s structural split and lexical mixing schematically. In this example, the core verb phrase structure dei bin baitim dem (they bit them) is drawn from Kriol (as (a) shows, Kriol also has a past tense auxiliary bin and a transitive marker –im). The noun phrase frame, including ergative and locative case marking, are from Gurindji (c). The Gurindji elements are given in italics, and plain font is used for Kriol elements.
|(1)||‘The frogs bit them on the hand.’|
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