LWM 137: Yingkarta

Product no.: ISBN 9783895861529
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Alan Dench
University of Western Australia

Yingkarta is an almost extinct language once spoken near the present town of Carnarvon on the north west coast of Western Australia. The language has not previously been described, and this description is based on recordings made in the 1960's and early 1980's with the few remaining speakers, most of whom have since died. Unfortunately, no text materials have been collected for the language. All indications are that Yingkarta is relatively conservative with respect to languages to its immediate north, and for this reason its description is of some importance to historical/comparative studies of Australian languages.

Yingkarta is typical of Australian Pama-Nyungan languages with a suffixing, agglutinative structure and relatively free word order. There are six points of articulation with both a laminal and an apical contrast. The language makes no formal distinction between nouns, adjectives and adverbs of manner, which are grouped together as the one part of speech, 'nominal'. Pronouns have singular, dual and plural forms though, unusually for languages of the area, Yingkarta does not mark number on nominals. There is an incomplete set of optional bound pronominal elements, or agreement markers, which appear enclitic to the last word of the first clause constituent. Yingkarta has a system of split-ergative case marking: most pronouns have separate ergative, nominative and accusative forms while other nominals generally take ergative case-suffixes in A function and are unmarked in S and O function. However, the ergative marking of nominals and accusative marking of pronouns appears not to be obligatory, though this may be an artefact of data collected with semi-fluent speakers. Verbs generally fall into one of two major conjugations and in main clauses are inflected for tense, aspect and mood. In subordinate clauses verbs select from among a set of inflections which indicate the relationship between main and subordinate clause. A system of switch-reference operates for relative clauses.

ISBN 9783895861529. Languages of the World/Materials 137. 60pp. 1998.

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