Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New language discovery in remote Indigenous community in Australia reveals linguistic insights

Date:
June 18, 2013
Source:
Linguistic Society of America
Summary:
A new language has been discovered in a remote Indigenous community in northern Australia that is generated from a unique combination of elements from other languages.

A new language has been discovered in a remote Indigenous community in northern Australia that is generated from a unique combination of elements from other languages. Light Warlpiri has been documented by University of Michigan linguist Carmel O'Shannessy, in a new study published in the June, 2013 issue of the scholarly journal Language.

The people who live in a small community in the Tanami Desert speak a traditional language, Warlpiri. It is spoken by about 4,000 persons and is highly endangered. In one community called Lajamanu, however, speakers readily switch between languages -- from Warlpiri to English and Kriol (an English-based creole). In the 1970s and 1980s, children internalized this switching as a separate linguistic system, and began to speak it as their primary code, one with verb structure from English and Kriol, and noun structure from Warlpiri as well as new structures that can be traced to Warlpiri, English and Kriol, but are no longer the same as in those source languages. As these children grew up they taught the new language to their own children, and it is now the primary code of children and young adults in the community.

Light Warlpiri is one of a small number of 'mixed languages,' ones which typically consist of combinations of elements from two languages, although the combinations can be of different types. For example, most of the words come from one language and most of the grammar from the other. It is rare to find the structures of the verb system and noun system from different languages, as in Light Warlpiri, as is the fact that more than two languages were involved in the creation.

One striking innovation involves taking word forms from English, for example, I'm 'I-present tense,' and creating new forms such yu-m 'you-nonfuture,' (that is, the present and past but not the future). There were no structures in Warlpiri, English or Kriol, however, that meant 'nonfuture time.'

This creation of new meanings from old sources also occurs in pidgin and creole languages, and in languages in the Balkan linguistic area. Perhaps the common factor between these and Light Walpiri is that each of them arose from combining elements from several languages. The wide separation of these codes suggests that this innovative combining may be an unusual but widely available human language phenomenon.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Linguistic Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Carmel O'Shannessy. The role of multiple sources in the formation of an innovative auxiliary category in Light Warlpiri, a new Australian mixed language. Language, Volume 89, Number 2, June 2013 DOI: 10.1353/lan.2013.0025

Cite This Page:

Linguistic Society of America. "New language discovery in remote Indigenous community in Australia reveals linguistic insights." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130618101729.htm>.
Linguistic Society of America. (2013, June 18). New language discovery in remote Indigenous community in Australia reveals linguistic insights. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130618101729.htm
Linguistic Society of America. "New language discovery in remote Indigenous community in Australia reveals linguistic insights." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130618101729.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins