Documentation and Description of Wanyjirra, a language of Northern Australia


Documentation and Description of Wanyjirra, a language of Northern Australia

Language: Wanyjirra
Depositor: Chikako Senge
Location: Australia
Deposit Id: 0125
ELDP Id: IGS0079
Level: Deposit

Summary of deposit

This collection contains descriptions and documentation of Wanyjirra and is taken mainly from two speakers and their families.

Goals include: to record, transcribe, translate and annotate audio and video data (including previously recorded materials) and make them available to the community members; to complete a reference grammar of Wanyjirra as a PhD dissertation.



Group represented


Language information
Wanyjirra is a little-known and endangered Pama-Nyungan language spoken in Northern Australia. At least two fluent speakers currently live in Halls Creek, Western Australia.

Special characteristics

Since Wanyjirra is lexically similar to surrounding languages, it has been treated as a dialect of these languages and has been missed on some surveys or language maps. For example, according to Ethnologue, Wanyjirra is erroneously reported as a dialect of Gurindji. However, recorded material which Prof. Tsunoda has provided show uniqueness of the Wanyjirra language and culture. For example, Wanyjirra people retain an ‘avoidance’ speech style which is used instead of ordinary speech style between specific taboo kin relations and their own marriage rules based on subsection systems. Another example is the Wanyjirra free pronoun system. This seems to lack core case distinctions: a single form is used for intransitive and transitive subject and object (though another form is used for possessor). This property is quite unusual in Pama-Nyungan languages, but strikingly similar to the non-Pama Nyungan languages spoken geographically close to Wanyjirra, which have the same marking pattern. Neutralisations on this scale have not been reported for other Ngumpin-Yapa languages.

Other typological features of special interest in the language include:

(a) its vowel system, which has an unusual /e a o/ triangular system as opposed to the more normal /i a u/ system

(b) the development of a specific suffix -g- for marking resultative secondary predicates

(c) the extension of a special continuous aspect marker which appears to have become the default for most tense values

(d) an extensive system for cross-referencing pronominal oblique arguments of various types on the auxiliary

(e) the extension of locative-inflected nominalizations to include both same- and different-subject sequences, with the development of a new marker (probably from -rniny ‘way’) for obviative combinations



Deposit contents


Deposit history

Previous fieldwork on Wanyjirra has been carried out by Prof. Tasaku Tsunoda. The depositor's Postgraduate Diploma Subthesis (completed in 2008) was the first sketch of the grammar of Wanyjirra. However, since the subthesis was based exclusively on the transcribed materials which Prof. Tsunoda provided, many linguistic features and also cultural information including kinship systems and marriage rules need to be investigated in more detail.

This project focuses on the collection and analysis of an array of primary language data. These materials will be a long-lasting, multipurpose, multimedia resource which will be available for a wide range of users including the language community members and other academic parties who are interested in this language with permissions of the language community. The accessibility and availability of materials will help the community members, especially younger generations who do not usually speak the language to learn their ancestors’ language and traditional cultures. Also, various kinds of pedagogical materials will be created in the future including story books, language and cultural text books, wordbooks, picture books with linguistic and cultural information. The primary materials are expected to use for future studies not only in linguistic and language-related research (for example, typological, pragmatic, sociolinguistic, comparative linguistic) but also other disciplinary research (for example, anthropology, history and botany).



Other information


Acknowledgement

To refer to any data from the corpus, please cite the corpus in this way:

Senge, Chikako. 2011. Documentation and Description of Wanyjirra, a language of Northern Australia. London: Endangered Languages Archive. URL: https://elar.soas.ac.uk/Collection/MPI170886. Accessed on [insert date here].



Status

Curated
Resources online and curated

Depositor

Chikako Senge
Affiliation: Australian National University

Deposit Statistics

Data from 2018 August 17 to 2018 August 17
Deposit hits:2
Downloaded files
Without statistics


Showing 1 - 10 of 76 Items




"I help my grandchildren keep our language"

Recorded on: 2011-10-10




"I put the language in the book"

Recorded on: 2011-10-28




"Old people took us to the bush"

Recorded on: 2011-10-24








You should have brought back meat'

Recorded on: 2011-10-14