'Greedy girl': convergent discourse patterns in Central Australia

Jane Simpson

Many older people in Central Australia are multilingual.  The
association of land with language, the pressure to speak the
language of the country one is in, exogamous marriage patterns,
and widespread shared auxiliary sign languages suggest that the
societies have been stably multilingual for a long time. I
discuss this in relation to a video tape recorded by Adam Kendon,
in which a woman tells the same story in three languages of which
she is a fluent speaker: Warlpiri, Warumungu, Warlmanpa, and in
the auxiliary sign language.  The spoken language stories show
similarities in sentence structuring. I suggest that much of the
multilingualism is of this form -- beginning speakers organise
the lexical items and grammatical morphemes from another language
into the information structures of their own language. I
speculate that this hypothesised stable multilingualism has led
to a convergence in discourse patterning in the grammars of the
languages.

Date created: 26 March 1998
Last modified: 26 March 1998
 1998 Jane Simpson
Maintained by: David Nash

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