Hunter Gatherer Research

Talking about motion in Aboriginal Australia

How linguistic structure and culture influence motion event encoding

Hunter Gatherer Research (2018), 4, (3), 369–390.

Abstract

Traversing the landscape in ancestral myth and everyday life is of central importance across Australia. This paper investigates how lexicalisation patterns in motion descriptions influence the distribution of path encodings in discourse in three typologically distinct languages spoken in similar cultural and topographic settings, Jaminjung, Kriol and MalakMalak. Path salience is investigated in different types of discourse using a dataset of motion event encodings all collected in fieldwork settings. I describe that with regards to expressions of path elements within a single clause, Jaminjung and MalakMalak are low path salient languages while Kriol is a high salience language. However, the three languages show remarkable similarities in distributing path and manner over larger chunks of discourse. I conclude that these findings suggest cultural values and conditions may override morphosyntactic typological constraints on language.

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Hoffmann, Dorothea

Hoffmann, Dorothea