New language discovered in Australia, only spoken by 350 people
2013 07 23

From: Daily Telegraph News



It’s spoken only by a few hundred people living in a tiny desert community, and almost exclusively by those under the age of 35.

But the discovery of a new language in remote Australia is causing a ripple of excitement among linguists around the world.


Lajamanu, with a population of around 850, lies on the northern fringe of the Tanami Desert, 870 kilometres south of Darwin and 560kms southwest of Katherine by road.

It is one of the Northern Territory’s most westerly communities and its original language, Warlpiri, is spoken by about 6000 people in the region.

Carmel O’Shannesssy, a linguist from the University of Michigan, began visiting the town to study local young people’s speech more than a decade ago.

Lajamanu has no entirely paved roads and during the wet season it can be cut off.

A community-managed airline lands a plane on the town’s dirt airstrip twice a week carrying mail, and once a week a truck brings in supplies to stock Lajamanu’s one village store.

All residents speak traditional "strong" Warlpiri and some speak "Kriol", an English-based creole developed in the late 19th century and widely spoken by indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Around 350 young locals speak the new language documented by Ms O’Shannessy, called "Light Warlpiri".

The language is a complex mix of English, Kriol and Warlpiri, but has a verbal system closer to Kriol and English.

Documented in the journal Language, Light Warlpiri differs from its indigenous origins by mixing in English sentence structure.

"The striking thing about Light Warlpiri is that most of the verbs come from English or Kriol, but most of the other grammatical elements in the sentence come from Warlpiri," Ms O’Shannessy told LiveScience.

In English, the order of words in a sentence generally indicates the grammatical relationship between the subjects and objects of a verb.

In traditional Warlpiri, words can be placed in any order, and grammatical interpretations are based on suffixes that are attached to the nouns.

"In Light Warlpiri, you have one part of the language that mostly comes from English and Kriol, but the other grammatical part, the suffixing, comes from Warlpiri," Ms O’Shannessy said.

[...]

Read the full article at: dailytelegraph.com.au



Related Articles
Social Media Images Form a New Language Online
Fossil words and how language changes
Prairie dogs’ language decoded by scientists
Elephants Communicate in Sophisticated Sign Language
Before Babel: In search of the first language
For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II
Coober Pedy – Australia’s Underground Town
Religious sect found after living underground in Russia for nearly a decade
African Coins Found in Australia Thought to Be 1,000 Years Old: May Rewrite History


Latest News from our Front Page

Your Smartphone Broadcasts Your Entire Life To The Secret Service
2014 09 23
Intelligence services collect metadata on the communication of all citizens. Politicians would have us believe that this data doesn’t say all that much. A reader of De Correspondent put this to the test and demonstrated otherwise: metadata reveals a lot more about your life than you think. Ton Siedsma is nervous. He made the decision weeks ago, but keeps postponing it. ...
Scots were tricked into voting ‘No’ – Salmond
2014 09 23
London politicians gulled Scottish voters out of independence by making a false “vow” to grant Glasgow extra powers, First Minister Alex Salmond has said. He also raised the prospect of another referendum, saying the break-up is inevitable. Alex Salmond, leader of the ’Yes’ campaign and the outgoing head of the Scottish National Party (SNP), told the BBC’s Sunday Politics program that ...
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
2014 09 23
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity. Suspected Ebola patient Finda “Zanabo” prays over her sick family members before being admitted to the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center on Aug. 21, 2014, near Monrovia, Liberia. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images As the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has spiraled out of control, affecting thousands of Liberians, Sierra Leonians, and Guineans, ...
Man bitten by Ebola patient flown to Switzerland
2014 09 22
Swiss authorities say a male nurse who was bitten by an Ebola patient while working in West Africa has been flown to Switzerland as a precaution. The health ministry says the unidentified man was working for an international organization in Sierra Leone when he was bitten by a child infected with Ebola on Saturday. The ministry says the nurse was wearing protective ...
Climate March in New York City Reveals Communists Demanding ’Revolution, Nothing Less’ - Trash the City With Garbage
2014 09 22
Tens-of-thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of New York City Sunday to demand political leaders take action on climate change. While the protest remained peaceful, much of the “People’s Climate March” appeared to be made up of fringe elements of the political left. Dozens of signs denouncing capitalism were spotted at the demonstration, often held by self-proclaimed socialists. “Capitalism is destroying the ...
More News »