A description of the Emmi language of the Northern Territory of Australia
Lysbeth J. Ford
University of Sydney
RMW Dixon (series ed.)
Emmi, named after the word for ‘what’ in the language, is a highly endangered polysynthetic Australian language with only a handful of fluent speakers. A member of the Daly River sprach-bund of the Northern Territory, Emmi is a head-marking language with vestigial noun class marking, but a highly developed system of verb classifiers and ordered nominal and propositional enclitics. Emmi noun incorporation is lexical and syntactic, and, as in other languages of the region, lexically incorporated body-parts function as metaphors and classifiers for entities of similar shape to these body-parts. The syntax of Emmi simple and complex clauses involves serial constructions in which major intransitive verbs have been poly-grammaticised to provide aspectual information.
Ford has since worked on neighbouring related languages, also highly endangered, which have similar highly developed systems of verb classifiers, and clitics, but a more extensive system of noun classifiers. She has also worked extensively on traditional songs in Emmi, its closely related dialect Mendhe, and the related languages Marri Ammu, Marri Tjabin and Marri Ngarr, and compared the use of all these languages in wangga and lirrga song-texts.
ISBN 9783862881543. Outstanding grammars from Australia 08. 465pp. 2013.