React locally: How language creation can be a response to global language pressure

Carmel O'Shannassy
17 Mar 2015
Humanities Research Centre
Australian National University

Carmel O'Shannessy delivered a well attended public lecture on her research into a mixed language of the Nothern Territory. She discussed how the Warlpiri community has reacted creatively to global pressure from English by incorporating elements of Warlpiri and varieties of English and Kriol systematically in a new way of speaking. The speakers incorporate the source languages into the new code in a pattern rarely seen in the world's languages – by combining noun structure from Warlpiri with verb structure from English and Kriol, and adding structural innovations not found in any of the source languages. She argued that the unusual structure is motivated by an interplay of multilingualism, child-directed speech, and peer-group social interactions; and that a community's response to global pressure can be one of dynamic creativity.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University