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Contact-induced restructuring of pronominal morphosyntax in Umpithamu (Cape York Peninsula, Australia)

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This paper analyses the morphosyntactic status of pronouns in Umpithamu, a language from Cape York Peninsula (Australia). The analysis shows that pronominal morphosyntax in Umpithamu deviates from what can be expected historically and typologically, and attributes this to restructuring under the influence of intensive contact with Lamalamic languages, to which it is not closely related. The evidence for contact-induced restructuring combines a clear linguistic case involving a rare morphosyntactic pattern with a rare function, with a well-documented anthropological case for long-standing language contact. The outcome of the process is morphologically hybrid, combining the external structure of enclitic forms with the internal structure of free forms, which testifies to the abrupt nature of the process that was involved.

Keywords: Australia; Pama-Nyungan; contact-induced change; morphosyntax; personal multilingualism; pronouns

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2012

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  • International Journal for Historical Linguistics

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