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.