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.


Hope McManus: Loanword Adaptation

Hope McManus’ Honours Thesis is available from the University of Sydney eScholarship site.

Loanword Adaptation: A study of some Australian Aboriginal Languages


This thesis is a case study of some aspects of the adaptation of English words in several Australian Aboriginal languages, including Martu Wangka, Gamilaraay and Warlpiri. I frame my analysis within Smith’s (to appear) source-similarity model of loanword adaptation. This model exploits loanword-specific faithfulness constraints that impose maximal similarity between the perceived source form and its corresponding loan. Using this model, I show that the conflict of the relevant prosodic markedness constraints and loanword-specific faithfulness constraints drives adaptation. Vowel epenthesis, the most frequent adaptation strategy, allows the recoverability of a maximal amount of information about the source form and ensures that the loan conforms to the constraints of language-internal phonological grammar. Less frequent strategies including deletion and substitution occur in a restricted environment. The essence of the present analysis is minimal violation, a principle that governs loanword adaptation as well as other areas of phonology.

Variation in Indigenous Minority Languages

[includes paper by Carmel O’Shannessy on change in Warlpiri]

Edited by James N. Stanford and Dennis R. Preston

Dartmouth College / Oklahoma State University

Indigenous minority languages have played crucial roles in many areas of linguistics – phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, typology, and the ethnography of communication. Such languages have, however, received comparatively little attention from quantitative or variationist sociolinguistics. Without the diverse perspectives that underrepresented language communities can provide, our understanding of language variation and change will be incomplete. To help fill this gap and develop broader viewpoints, this anthology presents 21 original, fieldwork-based studies of a wide range of indigenous languages in the framework of quantitative sociolinguistics. The studies illustrate how such understudied communities can provide new insights into language variation and change with respect to socioeconomic status, gender, age, clan, lack of a standard, exogamy, contact with dominant majority languages, internal linguistic factors, and many other topics.

Colour Universals

Why there are no `colour universals’ in language and thought

Author: Wierzbicka, Anna

Source: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Volume 14, Number 2, June 2008 , pp. 407-425(19)

Publisher: Blackwell Publishing



Do all people live in a world full of colours? Perceptually, yes (unless they are visually impaired), but conceptually, no: there are many languages which have no word for `colour’ and in which the question `what colour is it?’ cannot be asked and presumably does not arise. Yet the powerful and still immensely influential theory of Berlin and Kay assumes otherwise. While building on my earlier work on colour semantics, this article brings new evidence against the Berlin and Kay paradigm, and presents a fundamentally different approach. The new data on which the argument is based come from Australian languages. In particular, the article presents a detailed study of the visual world reflected in the Australian language Warlpiri and in Warlpiri ways of speaking, showing that while Warlpiri people have no `colour-talk’ (and no `colour-practices’), they have a rich visual discourse of other kinds, linked with their own cultural practices. It also offers a methodology for identifying indigenous meanings without the grid of the English concept `colour’, and for revealing `the native’s point of view’. Résumé

Tout le monde vit-il dans un monde plein de couleurs ? Du point de vue de la perception, la réponse est oui (sauf en cas de handicap visuel), mais au niveau des concepts, c’est non : dans de nombreuses langues, le mot « couleur » n’existe pas et la question « de quelle couleur est ceci ? » ne peut pas être posée, et ne se pose probablement même pas. Pourtant, théorie de Berlin et Kay, puissante et encore immensément influente, affirme le contraire. Tout en exploitant ses travaux antérieurs sur la sémantique des couleurs, l’auteur apporte de nouvelles preuves à l’encontre du paradigme de Berlin et Kay et présente une approche fondamentalement différente. Les nouvelles données sur lesquelles se base son argumentation proviennent des langues australiennes. L’article présente en particulier une étude détaillée du monde visuel tel qu’en rend compte la langue australienne warlpiri. Les expressions dans cette langue montrent que bien que les Warlpiri n’aient pas de « langage des couleurs » (ni de « pratique des couleurs »), ils ont un riche discours visuel à propos d’autres propriétés liées à leur propre pratique culturelle. L’article expose également une méthodologie pour identifier les significations indigènes en dehors de la grille du concept occidental de « couleur », et pour révéler « le point de vue indigène ».

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9655.2008.00509.x