Associate Professor Carmel O'Shannessy is collaborating with Professors Barbara Kelly and Gillian Wigglesworth, both at the University of Melbourne (Australia), on a language acquisition project called "Learning to tell a narrative in Murrinhpatha." The 3-year project was awarded funding this week by the Australian Research Council (ARC).

ARC is a commonwealth entity within the government of Australia that advises them on research. They identify both excellence in research and opportunities for further development in order to deliver cultural, economic, social, and environmental benefits to Australians.

Project Abstract

This project aims to examine the linguistic, social, and cognitive stages of children’s narrative development in Murrinhpatha, an Indigenous Australian language spoken in Wadeye. Until they encounter the bilingual education system at primary school, the children of Wadeye grow up in a largely monolingual Murrinhpatha environment. The research will examine how children structure narratives in this typologically unusual language. It will provide insights into how information interacts with linguistic complexity, cognitive constraints and social interaction. This project aims to maintain the vitality of Murrinhpatha in the community and contribute to the development of bilingual education programmes.