A Longitudinal Study of Ngarrindjeri

A Longitudinal Study of Ngarrindjeri

Corinne Bannister.

This thesis aims to follow the changes that occur in Ngarrindjeri, a language from South Australia, over a period of 130 years. Over this period of time the speakers underwent great social and cultural change, with the settlement of white people, and the language changed from being a vibrant living language to one where only a few lexical items can be remembered. Particular attention is given to the syntactic changes, with a focus on case, the pronominal system and the antipassive function. A range of sources have been used; however Meyer’s grammar from 1843 and the Berndt texts, recorded in the 1940s, plus the accompanying analysis provided by Cerin (1994), receive the main focus because they are the most extensive descriptions of the language. The other sources are used when necessary to fill in the gaps. Chapter one introduces the language and the source material. It also discusses general concepts in language attrition. Chapter two deals with nominal morphology, with a particular focus on how the cases have changed. It also contains some reanalysis of the forms, which differs slightly from previous analyses. Chapter three address the pronominal morphology and identifies and explains discrepancies among the sources. This chapter contains information on the personal pronouns, reflexive pronouns and also a small section on how the pronominal system influenced a change in word order. Chapter four addresses the antipassive in Ngarrindjeri. Previous work on the antipassive has been scarce, so firstly this chapter establishes the form of the antipassive. Next it identifies the semantic uses of the construction. Finally, there is an investigation into the existence of a syntactic antipassive and the type of pivots that may also exist.

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