[Lingtyp] Australian languages

Ilana Mushin i.mushin at uq.edu.au
Thu Jan 12 22:11:44 UTC 2023

Following on from Jane’s email, such particles are widely found across Australian languages, including non-Pama-Nyungan languages. Eg Garrwa (and Yanyuwa) ‘kurda’ and Gija gaage- (the Gija forms inflect for gender). They can be used as compassionate responses as stand alone particles (response token), or they can be used turn initially or finally to express compassion over what has just been said, or is about to be said. They are usually used to express compassion over another’s misfortune, but can also be used affectionately. We have examples of them being used for people, animals and country.

Ilana Mushin
Professor of Linguistics
Deputy Head of School
President, Australian Linguistic Society

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I acknowledge the Jagera and Turrbal peoples on whose land I live and work. Their sovereignty was never ceded.

On 13 Jan 2023, at 8:00 am, Jane Simpson <jansimps at gmail.com> wrote:

Many Australian Pama-Nyungan languages have a nominal which semantically expresses both sympathy and affection, and syntactically is used as an expression of sympathy to an interlocutor (roughly equivalent to English 'Poor you!' or 'Poor thing'!), and to refer to third parties, whether as an argument or in apposition to an argument.  Here are some examples from  Warlpiri

wiyarrpa (N): (La,Ny,Y) dear (term of affection), unfortunate, poor thing. [expression of sympathy, concern, affection and closeness with some being].
◆ Wiyarrpa nyurnu-jarrija kurdu. The poor baby got sick. ◆ Wiyarrpa nyinaka kulu-wangu. Don’t get into a fight, you poor thing! ◆ Wiyarrparlunpaju yungu. That was kind of you to give it to me. ◆ Ngajuku- purdangka wiyarrpa, milpa wijini. My poor brother, his eyes are sore. ◆ .. ◆ Kalalu-nyanu payurnu: “Yungkaju waja, wiyarrpaku.” “Nganja wiyarrparlu. Wiyarrparlu waja, nganja.” They would ask each other for things, “Give me (some) – to my poor self!” “Eat it you poor thing. You poor thing, I say, eat it.” Note: Also used to refer to deceased person in a way that expresses the speaker’s sympathy.◆ Wiyarrpa-ngurlu-nyanu muku pajurnu. He cut himself all over grieving over the poor (deceased) person.

and other examples  .. Kamparru- warnu-patulpalu nyinaja jalya-nyayirni – wiyarrpa.  The people from before were really naked, those dear people.

Wiyarrpa ngula nyangkalu jarntu larrpa-larrpa. Look at that poor skinny dog.

Laughren, Mary, Hale, Kenneth, Egan, Jeannie Nungarrayi, Patrick, Marlurrku Paddy Jangala, Hoogenraad, Robert, Nash, David, and Simpson, Jane. 2022. Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary: Warlpiri yimi-kirli manu jaru-kurlu. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.

Jane Simpson
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