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Borrowing contextual inflection: evidence from northern Australia

Abstract

Gurindji Kriol is a north Australian mixed language which combines lexical and structural elements from Gurindji (Pama-Nyungan), and Kriol (English-lexifier). One of the more striking features of the grammar of Gurindji Kriol is the presence of the Gurindji case paradigm including ergative and dative case-markers within a Kriol verbal frame. Given the fragility of inflectional morphology in other language contact situations, particularly contextual inflections such as structural case markers, this situation bears closer scrunity. This paper argues that the presence of Gurindji case morphology is the result of pervasive code-switching practices which immediately preceded the genesis of the mixed language. As the code-switching stabilised into a mixed language, case-marking was integrated into predicate argument structure of Gurindji Kriol via nominal adjunct structures. Yet, these case markers were not absorbed unscathed. Although the Gurindji Kriol case paradigm bears a close resemblance to its Gurindji source in form, these case markers have not been perfectly replicated in function and distribution. Contact with Kriol functional equivalents such as prepositions and word order have altered the function and distribution of these case markers. The last part of this paper examines the shift that has occurred in Gurindji-derived case morphology in Gurindji Kriol.

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Abbreviations

ABL:

Ablative

ALL:

Allative

AUX:

Auxiliary

COM:

Comitative

DAT:

Dative

DU:

Dual

DYAD:

Kinship pair

ERG:

Ergative

FOC:

Focus

FUT:

Future

IMPF:

Imperfect

INC:

Inclusive

LOC:

Locative

NEG:

Negative

O:

Object

OBL:

Oblique

PAUC:

Paucal

PERF:

Perfect

PL:

Plural

PROG:

Progressive

PRS:

Present

PST:

Past

QN:

Question nominal

S:

Subject

SG:

Singular

TAG:

Tag question

TOP:

Topic

TR:

Transitive

1:

First person

2:

Second person

3:

Third person

-:

Morpheme break

=:

Clitic break

>:

Acting on

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Correspondence to Felicity Meakins.

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Meakins, F. Borrowing contextual inflection: evidence from northern Australia. Morphology 21, 57–87 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11525-010-9163-4

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Keywords

  • Borrowing
  • Code-switching
  • Mixed language
  • Gurindji Kriol
  • Inflectional morphology
  • Contextual inflection
  • Case marker