A Preliminary Study of Pitch and Rhythm in Pitjantjatjara

by Marija Tabain, Janet Fletcher, and Christian Heinrich

Pitjantjatjara is a dialect of the greater Western Desert language, spoken mainly in the northwest of South Australia, but extending north into the Northern Territory, and west into Western Australia (Douglas 1964). Like most Australian languages, Pitjantjatjara has been analysed as a stress language (trochaic); however relatively little is known about the intonational system of this language. We present a preliminary analysis of the prosodic structure of Pitjantjatjara based on three female speakers reading two different texts – the Walpa Ulpariranya munu Tjintunya (South Wind and the Sun) passage, and the Nanikuta (Three Billy Goats) text.

Stress in Kaytetye

by Myfany Turpin and Katherine Demuth

Kaytetye is an Aboriginal language of central Australia. It has an estimated 250 speakers, including the younger people whose variety differs significantly (Turpin and Ross 2012). Kaytetye belongs to the Arandic subgroup, which is part of the larger Pama-Nyungan family that once covered some 90% of Australia. It is bordered by two Arandic languages to the south and the east; and two languages from other subgroups in the north and west. Kaytetye is not mutually intelligible with its neighbouring languages and whilst traditionally multilingualism was the norm, language shift is now taking place to an English based creole.

Causation in the Australian dialects Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara


Causation in the Australian dialects Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara

By Conor Pyle

This paper will look at the phenomenon of causation in two dialects of the Western Desert in Australia, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara (P/Y). The grammar will be discussed under the paradigm of Role and Reference Grammar (RRG), which is intended to be able to be used globally for the description of any language. There is a continuum of causation from direct to indirect involvement, and from compact constructions to purposive or goal oriented actions. We look at lexical, morphological, and syntactic marking of causation in P/Y which has a mixed ergative/accusative and limited polysynthesis. We find that causation is shown lexically, morphologically by the use of suffixes, and syntactically by dependent subclauses. Direct causation through suffixing is linked to intransitive verbs and change of state rather than to transitive verbs. Characteristic of P/Y is the serial verb participle, which in some cases involves light verbs that imply causation.

Loanwords between the Arandic languages and their western neighbours: principles of identification and phonological adaptation


Loanwords between the Arandic languages and their western neighbours: principles of identification and phonological adaptation

By Harold Koch

This paper summarises the characteristics of loanwords, especially the ways in which they are adapted to the structure of the borrowing language, and surveys the various tests that have been provided in both the general historical linguistics literature and Australianist literature for identifying the fact and direction of borrowing. It then provides a case study of loanwords out of and into the Arandic languages; the other languages involved are especially Warlpiri but to some extent dialects of the Western Desert language. The primary focus is on the phonological adaptation of loanwords between languages whose phonological structure differs especially in the presence vs. absence of initial consonants, in consequence of earlier changes whereby Arandic languages lost all initial consonants. While loanwords out of Arandic add a consonant, it is claimed that loanwords into Arandic include two chronological strata: in one the source consonant was preserved but the other (older) pattern involved truncation of the source consonant. Reasons for this twofold behaviour are presented (in terms of diachronic and contrastive phonology), and the examples of the more radical (older) pattern are individually justified as loanwords, using the criteria discussed earlier in the article.

Nominal Subclasses in Dalabon (South-western Arnhem Land)


Nominal Subclasses in Dalabon (South-western Arnhem Land)

By Maïa Ponsonnet

This paper describes a distinctive system of nominal subclasses observed in Dalabon, a non-Pama-Nyungan, Gunwinyguan language of south-western Arnhem Land, Australia. These subclasses differ from what is usually called ‘noun classes’ in Australian languages, and no such system has been described for an Australian language so far. While most Gunwinyguan languages use noun class prefixes offering an overt categorization of noun classes, Dalabon has no such prefixes. On the other hand, six semantically coherent nominal subclasses can be delineated based on four inter-related criteria—noun incorporation, boundness, obligatory possession and possessor raising. These subclasses are animate-part nouns (incorporable, strictly bound, obligatorily possessed, raising their possessors freely), kin-terms (incorporable, strictly bound, obligatorily possessed, raising their possessor when incorporated), inanimate-part nouns (incorporable, strictly bound, not obligatorily possessed), features of the landscape (incorporable, semi-bound, not obligatorily possessed), natural-kind nouns (non-incorporable) and generic nouns (incorporable free nouns). Some of the subclasses qualify as more or less inalienable. Along the way, the article discusses various aspects of Dalabon grammar such as word classes, noun incorporation and possessive constructions. The nominal subclass divisions also shed light upon some the distribution and semantics of the ubiquitous -no suffix, which remained obscure hitherto.

‘Up dere la’: Final Particle la in a Queensland Aboriginal Vernacular


Up dere la’: Final Particle la in a Queensland Aboriginal Vernacular

By Claire Gourlay and Ilana Mushin

This paper presents an analysis of the discourse particle la as it is used in an English-based Aboriginal vernacular language spoken in an ex-government reserve in Queensland. Using unelicited conversational data recorded in primary school classrooms, we present an analysis of the formal and functional properties of la. In terms of formal properties, we classify la as a final particle and observe that it frequently collocates with the deictic demonstratives ere (here) and dere (dere) and the visual perception verbs look and see. In our functional analysis we show that la is employed when the speaker is directing an interlocutor to jointly attend with the speaker to a specific object or action within the here-and-now environment—a function that is rare among discourse particles. We also discuss the possible origins of this particle in terms of substrate influences from traditional Australian languages or borrowing from other contact varieties. Our analysis of the particle la thus contributes both to our understanding of Queensland Aboriginal vernaculars and of discourse particles as linguistic objects that illustrate the inherently intersubjective nature of language.

Number Markedness: Evidence from Gangalidda


Number Markedness: Evidence from Gangalidda

By Jessica Mathie

I present data from Gangalidda (Australia) which shows that plural is more marked than dual in this language. This challenges the claim made in Harley and Ritter (2002) that dual is universally more marked than plural. Evidence that Harley and Ritter’s claim does not hold in Gangalidda is found in the distribution of dual clitics. In clauses with two non-singular arguments, the dual clitic is able to cross-reference both dual and plural entities. Assuming a privative feature geometry, this distribution is only possible if the features of the dual clitic are a subset of those present for the plural clitic (see Mathie In prep for an analysis assuming binary features). If the dual clitic had more features, as it does in Harley and Ritter’s geometry, it could not be inserted into a plural syntactic context, since it would be overspecified. I demonstrate that the Gangalidda distribution can be accounted for by the feature geometry proposed by Cowper (2005), in which plural is more marked, and I further demonstrate that Harley and Ritter’s geometry is not able to straightforwardly capture the Gangalidda facts. Section 1 outlines the feature geometries proposed by Harley and Ritter (2002) and Cowper (2005). Section 2 presents the Gangalidda data, illustrating the contextual neutralization of dual and plural clitics. Section 3 gives a featural account of the Gangalidda system, supporting the geometry in Cowper (2005).