Polysynthesis in Northern Australia

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This chapter surveys the polysynthetic languages of northern Australia, across four families in three non-contiguous regions: Gunwinyguan (Arnhem Land), Tiwi (Bathurst and Melville Islands), and Southern and Western Daly (Daly River). All are non-Pama-Nyungan. It contextualizes the more detailed treatments of Dalabon (Ch. 43), Southern and Western Daly (Ch. 44), and the acquisition of Murrinh-patha (Ch. 26) by bringing out the typological similarities and differences in polysynthetic languages, with a particular focus on pathways of change between more and less polysynthetic structures. Australian polysynthetic languages exhibit little morphological fusion, and all are basically templatic. However, there are significant differences in noun and verb incorporation, applicatives and other valency-changing operations, and the degree of subordinating morphology, illustrated by comparing the closely related Dalabon and Bininj Gun-wok. Perhaps the biggest difference is the presence of a bipartite structure in the Southern Daly languages. The chapter closes by surveying the main trajectories by which morphological complexity increases or diminishes in the languages of northern Australia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Polysynthesis
    Editors Michael Fortescue, Marianne Mithun & Nicholas Evans
    Place of PublicationOxford
    PublisherOxford University Press
    ISBN (Print)9780199683208
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    Dive into the research topics of 'Polysynthesis in Northern Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this