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  • Author or Editor: Felicity Meakins x
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This paper explores borrowing of nouns between two unrelated Australian languages with a long history of contact: Mudburra, a language with no grammatical gender, and Jingulu, which has four genders and super-classing. Unusually, this case involves extensive borrowing in both directions, resulting in the languages sharing 65% of their nouns. This bi-directional borrowing of nouns allows us to simultaneously examine the behaviour of gender where (i) nouns from a language with no gender have transferred into a language with a gender system, and (ii) nouns from a language with gender have transferred into a language with no gender system. Previous work in this area has been interested in the how nouns are categorised in scenario (i) (; ; ; Parafita Couto et al., 2015; ), and whether there is any evidence for the development of a gender system in the recipient language in scenario (ii) (; ; ; ; ; ; ). We show that Mudburra nouns borrowed into Jingulu are assigned gender on the basis of their semantics, with gender superclassing effects and morpho-phonological massaging. Some of the borrowings into Mudburra, on the other hand, demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of Jingulu morpho-syntax which speaks to a high degree of bilingualism between Mudburra and Jingulu over an extended period.

In: Journal of Language Contact


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 structural 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 languages 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.

In: Journal of Language Contact

This study tests the effect of multilingualism and language contact on consonant perception. Here, we explore the emergence of phonological stratification using two alternative forced-choice (2afc) identification task experiments to test listener perception of stop voicing with contrasting minimal pairs modified along a 10-step continuum. We examine a unique language ecology consisting of three languages spoken in Northern Territory, Australia: Roper Kriol (an English-lexifier creole language), Gurindji (Pama-Nyungan), and Gurindji Kriol (a mixed language derived from Gurindji and Kriol). In addition, this study focuses on three distinct age groups: children (group i, 8>), preteens to middle-aged adults (group ii, 10–58), and older adults (group iii, 65+). Results reveal that both Kriol and Gurindji Kriol listeners in group ii contrast the labial series [p] and [b]. Contrarily, while alveolar [t] and velar [k] were consistently identifiable by the majority of participants (74%), their voiced counterparts ([d] and [g]) showed random response patterns by 61% of the participants. Responses to the voiced stimuli from the preteen-adult Kriol group were, however, significantly more consistent than in the Gurindji Kriol group, suggesting Kriol listeners may be further along in acquiring the voicing contrast. Significant results regarding listener exposure to Standard English in both language groups also suggests constant exposure to English maybe a catalyst for setting this change in motion. The more varied responses from the Gurindji, Kriol, and Gurindji Kriol listeners in groups ii and iii, who have little exposure to English, help support these findings.

In: Journal of Language Contact