University of Melbourne
Warrwa, traditionally spoken in the Derby region of West Kimberley, Western Australia, is an endangered language, with just two full speakers. It is a nonPamaNyungan language, one of approximately a dozen members of the Nyulnyulan family; it belongs to the western branch. Phonologically it is typical of an Australian language, distinguishing seventeen consonants and three vowels, each with contrastive length. Two types of verbal construction are distinguished, simple and compound. Simple verbs consist of an inflecting verb root which carries pronominal prefixes crossreferencing the subject and indicating tense, and various aspectual suffixes and pronominal enclitics crossreference the object and indirect object. Compound verbs consist of an invariant preverb followed by an inflecting simple verb. Noun classes are not distinguished in Warrwa (or in any other Nyulnyulan language), and caserelations are marked by postpositions. In the ideolect of one of the remaining speakers a few body part nominals take pronominal prefixes crossreferencing the possessor of the body part; for the other speaker this system has been lost entirely. As in other Nyulnyulan languages, free pronouns distinguish four persons, 1, 1+2, 2, and 3 and two numbers, minimal and augmented.
The sketch is based primilarily on elicited and textual material gathered by the author during his 1992 field trip. William McGregor is the author of A functional Grammar of Gooniyandi (Amsterdam: John Bejamins, 1990), and a number of journal articles on that language; he is also author of Gunin/Kwini, volume 11 in this series. He currently holds an Australian Research Council fellowship in linguistics at the University of Melbourne.
ISBN 9783929075519. Languages of the World/Materials 89. 64 pp. 1994.