By R. M. W. Dixon
Aboriginal humans were in Australia for a minimum of 40,000 years, talking approximately 250 languages. via exam of released and unpublished fabrics on all of the person languages, Dixon surveys the ways that the languages fluctuate typologically and provides a profile of this usual linguistic region. The areal distribution of so much positive aspects is illustrated with greater than 30 maps and an index of languages and language teams is supplied.
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Extra resources for Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development (Cambridge Language Surveys)
4 The language situation in Australia There is (or was) a classificatory kinship system, with every person in a community related to every other through a series of mathematical-like rules of equivalence. Each Australian community has strict conventions for how one should behave with each class of relatives. Certain classes constitute avoidance relationships – typically, classificatory mother-in-law and classificatory son-in-law. They should not look at each other, nor speak directly to each other.
But this language had no name, in traditional times. There is now an accepted label. ‘The Western Desert language’ is currently in use, by Aborigines and non-Aborigines, to describe a chain of dialects, each mutually intelligible with its neighbours, which extends over one and a quarter million square kilometres (one-sixth of the area of Australia). In other situations no appropriate name has come into use. I have worked on a language in North Queensland that includes at least a dozen dialects (tribal languages) including Girramay, Djirru, Jirrbal, Gulngay, Mamu and Ngadjan.
On the linguistic criterion, there were about 240 or 250 indigenous languages known to have been spoken in Australia. Almost all of these had a number of distinct dialects, each associated with a tribal group, or with a subdivision within a tribe. For the people themselves it is the tribal dialect (ϭ political language) that has a name (in all but a very few instances) – for example, Pitjantjatjarra,Yankuntjatjarra and Pintupi in the western deserts area. Speakers of Pitjantjatjarra, Yankuntjatjarra and Pintupi recognise that these are mutually intelligible and – once the linguistic sense of the term ‘language’ is explained to them – acknowledge that they are dialects of one language.
Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development (Cambridge Language Surveys) by R. M. W. Dixon