Batjamalh is an endangered isolate from the Daly River region of Northwest Australia. Only one fluent speaker remains of this head-marking polysynthetic Australian language whose complex phonology and morpho-syntax were described in detail for the first time by Lysbeth Ford in her 1990 MA thesis for ANU. In 1997, Ford published in limited edition a Batjamalh dictionary, which sketched the morpho-syntax of the language with examples from Batjamalh wangga song-texts. This volume makes both works available to the wider public.
Batjamalh is unusual amongst Australian languages in that its phonology exhibits vowel harmony, and the pronominal prefixes to its transitive verbs combine A+O marking. However, its vestigial noun classifiers, fossilised noun incorporation and sole Irrealis allomorph are probably borrowed from Emmi, the neighbouring language whose speakers intermarried with Batjamalh speakers; like Emmi, and other languages in the Daly River Sprachbund, the syntax of Batjamalh simple and complex clauses involves serial constructions where commonly-used transitive and intransitive verbs have been poly-grammaticised to provide aspectual information.
ISBN 9783862885589. Outstanding grammars from Australia 17. 276pp. 2016.
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