A new edited volume on language contact in Australia since colonisation, edited by Felicity Meakins (University of Queensland, Australia) and Carmel O'Shannessy (University of Michigan), has been published by De Gruyter Mouton. Meakins and O'Shannessy edited the volume, "Loss and Renewal: Australian Languages Since Colonisation," because recent work on processes and outcomes of language contact involving Australian languages brings new insights to data and theory that are of global relevance. The book is dedicated to a pioneer in Australian language contact and linguistic history, Patrick McConvell.

UM Linguistics Associate Professor O'Shannessy, a co-editor of the new volume, "Loss and Renewal: Australian Languages Since Colonisation," also has a content chapter in the book, called "Entrenchment of Light Warlpiri Morphology." The volume was launched at the Australian Languages Workshop at Kioloa, NSW, Australia, on March 5, 2016. Prof. Jane Simpson (ANU) launched the volume and raised a toast to all involved!

From the publisher's website:

Australia is known for its linguistic diversity and extensive contact between languages. This edited volume is the first dedicated to language contact in Australia since colonization, marking a new era of linguistic work, and contributing new data to theoretical discussions on contact languages and language contact processes. It provides explanations for contemporary contact processes in Australia and much-needed descriptions of contact languages, including pidgins, creoles, mixed languages, contact varieties of English, and restructured Indigenous languages. Analyses of complex and dynamic processes are informed by rich sociolinguistic description.


The early years of a recently emerged language are observed in the emergence of Light Warlpiri (O’Shannessy, 2005, 2012, 2013), which systematically combines elements of Warlpiri (Ngumpin-Yapa) and varieties of English and Kriol (an English-lexified creole). Light Warlpiri combines nominal morphology from Warlpiri with verbal structure mostly from varieties of English and/or Kriol, but with some innovations (O’Shannessy, 2013). Light Warlpiri speakers also speak Warlpiri, allowing a longitudinal study of the children’s production of both languages, and documentation of the path of development of Light Warlpiri. Using a quantitative analysis, this chapter traces the production of ergative and dative morphology in children’s contemporary Warlpiri and Light Warlpiri in one community over a five year period, and finds that trends observed earlier (O’Shannessy, to appear) have become entrenched. First, the occurrence of ergative marking has increased in Light Warlpiri, across all age groups, such that it now parallels that in contemporary Warlpiri. But in Light Warlpiri there has been allomorphic reduction, making the Light Warlpiri forms clearly different from Warlpiri, and removing the Warlpiri conditioning factors of word length and vowel harmony. Second, dative case allomorphy patterns somewhat like the ergative in that Light Warlpiri allomorphy is reduced while contemporary Warlpiri allomorphy is not. Increased use of ergative marking in Light Warlpiri has made the languages more similar in this area, yet in terms of surface forms the two languages show increasing difference.

Find out more about Carmel’s work at her homepage!