By Andries W. Coetzee
Jan 20, 2013
Carmel O'Shannessy and an Australian colleague, Felicity Meakins, just had a paper appear in the Journal of Language Contact. This is the permier journal for research on language contact phenomena, and the fact that their paper appeared in this journal is a testament to the quality and originality of their research. In their paper, they compare the complex ways in which two mixed languages, Light Warlpiri and Gurindji Kriol, differ in terms their verbal systems. Although these two language arose under very similar circumstances (contact between Aboriginal English and either Gurindji or Warlpiri), they differ substantially in how they integrated verbs from English, and Gurundji or Warlpiri. In their paper, Carmel and Felicity argue that the reason for this difference between Light Warlpiri and Gurindji Kriol can be found in differences between the verbal systems of Warlpiri and Gurindji, respectively. The full bibliographic information of their paper, together with an abstract, is given below.
Meakins, Felicity & Carmel O'Shannessy. 2012. Typological constraints on verb integration in two Australian mixed languages. Journal of Language Contact, 5(2):216-246.
Gurindji Kriol and Light Warlpiri are two mixed languages spoken in northern Australia by Gurindji and Warlpiri people, respectively. Both languages are the outcome of the fusion of a contact variety of English (Kriol/Aboriginal English) with a traditional Australian Aboriginal language (Gurindji or Warlpiri). The end result is two languages which show remarkable struc¬tural similarity. In both mixed languages, pronouns, TMA auxiliaries and word order are derived from Kriol/Aboriginal English, and case-marking and other nominal morphology come from Gurindji or Warlpiri. These structural similarities are not surprising given that the mixed lan¬guages are derived from typologically similar languages, Gurindji and Warlpiri (Ngumpin-Yapa, Pama-Nyungan), and share the Kriol/Aboriginal English component. Nonetheless, one of the more striking differences between the languages is the source of verbs. One third of the verbs in Gurindji Kriol is derived from Gurindji, whereas only seven verbs in Light Warlpiri are of Warlpiri origin. Additionally verbs of Gurindji origin in Gurindji Kriol are derived from coverbs, whereas the Warlpiri verbs in Light Warlpiri come from inflecting verbs. In this paper we claim that this difference is due to differences in the complex verb structure of Gurindji and Warlpiri, and the manner in which these complex verbs have interacted with the verb structure of Kriol/English in the formation of the mixed languages.