ELL: An Australian type of NP: the subset construction

Ruth Singer rsinger at OPTUSNET.COM.AU
Wed Nov 8 10:20:48 UTC 2000

Dear list members,
I an honours student at Melbourne Uni. I am looking into a construction
in Australian languages which has been described as a type of part-whole
construction for an essay I'm doing. Blake in Australian Aboriginal
Grammar calls it the 'inclusive construction' and I have been calling it
the 'subset construction', following Nick Evans, who first brought it to
my attention. An example is the easiest way to explain it. One from
Ngukurr Kriol is below:

mindubala banji
1.dual    brother-in-law
My brother-in-law and I

The basic form is that a non-plural pronoun is used followed by a
singular NP. The hearer then constructs the larger group of which the
overt NP is a subset from contextual clues. When the first person dual
is used the missing NP is taken to be the speaker. When a third person
dual form is used the missing NP could be evident from the context or
unspecified. When a third person group pronoun is used the constuction
is usually taken to mean the named referent and his or her 'gang' or
group they usually hang around with. The construction also occurs with a
first person group pronoun. There's some examples of these types below.
Basically I was just wondering if anyone knew of any more in-depth
discussions of this construction and if anyone had any interesting
examples to contribute. It seems to be a pretty widespread construction
and I've found examples in a number of different language families quite
widely separated spatially and typologically.


Yijayi-jarra pila      yani  kurlirra
(name)-DU     AUX:3:DU went south
Yijayi and her friend went south
                (Hudson 1983:66)

raku-ërakuny-dji-rr-a       [Nanapurr   Birandjitj-tja]s
ëWe all, Frances included, were dying
                (Morphy 1983:87)


Bula      ngadhu        yumurr     yuwal-inh   dhada-y
3du+NOM   1sg+GEN+ABS   child+ABS  beach-ALL   go-PAST
Those two - my son included - went to the beach
                (Havidland 1979:105)

Fitzroy Valley Kriol

Les   kripap    la Sherin-mob
letís creep.up LOC S.-COL
Letís creep up on  Sharon and her friendsí
        (Hudson 1983:.60)

Endangered-Languages-L Forum: endangered-languages-l at carmen.murdoch.edu.au
Web pages http://carmen.murdoch.edu.au/lists/endangered-languages-l/
Subscribe/unsubscribe and other commands: majordomo at carmen.murdoch.edu.au

More information about the Endangered-languages-l mailing list