Department of Linguistics
University of Michigan
| MAJOR RESEARCH INTEREST:
Documentation of Light Warlpiri, a newly emerged mixed language spoken in the Warlpiri community of Lajamanu, in the Tanami Desert, northern Australia.
Light Warlpiri draws most nouns and nominal structure from Warlpiri, and most verbs and verbal structure from varieties of English and Kriol (an English-lexified Kriol, spoken in the north of Australia), along with radical innovations in the verbal auxiliary system.
Listen to an adult telling a story in Light Warlpiri.
Watch a report about how children speak Warlpiri in Lajamanu / Nyirrpi / Willowra / Yuendumu.
Watch a talk about how languages get new structure, given at the symposium, How Language Evolves, CARTA, UCSD, February 2015
Watch a talk about Light Warlpiri given at AIATSIS, Canberra, May 2013
Go to 2013 "Special Seminars held at AIATSIS during Semester 1"
A SELECTION OF MEDIA ATTENTION, 2013
The New York Times
The Huffington Post
SBS World News Australia
SELECTED RADIO INTERVIEWS
NPR: All Things Considered
ABC Radio National, Australia: Late Night Live
1290 WLBY: The Lucy Ann Lance Show
The most striking thing about Light Warlpiri is an innovative auxiliary system, which draws on Warlpiri, and varieties of English or Kriol.
The auxiliary word shapes are derived from English and Kriol. The meanings and structure have changed, so that the structure of the auxiliary paradigm is not the same as that in any of the source languages. Light Warlpiri has formal modal categories of realis - irrealis, influenced by Warlpiri modal semantics.
Some verbs also show innovations, by combining Warlpiri stems with Aboringinal English or Kriol transitive affixes.|
In the examples, words in this color are from Warlpiri, and those in this color are from English or Kriol. This color is for the innovative auxiliary system and verbal structure.
The role of children in nativizing and developing Light Warlpiri, and children's acquisition of both Light Warlpiri, and Warlpiri, are particularly interesting.
Young adults and children in Lajamanu are multilingual, as they speak Warlpiri, Light Warlpiri and varieties of English and Kriol.
MY RESEARCH COMBINES:
Broad theoretical questions:
LANGUAGE CONTACT AND ACQUISITION
Although many children in the world learn more than one language from birth or from a very young age, few studies have examined children's language learning in contexts in which the children receive language input in several codes or languages from the same interlocutors or in the same settings. The ways children deal with varied input sheds light on children's processing strategies. Viewed from another perspective, it can provide information about language maintenance, shift or attrition, especially in contexts in which the languages or codes differ in their status in the local and wider communities.
Children's language learning in contexts in which several codes or languages are spoken to and around children, and generational changes in linguistic patterns, can inform theories of language acquisition and change.
ENDANGERED LANGUAGE DOCUMENTATION
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Email: carmelos at umich.edu