Talk:Australian Aboriginal languages

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Adding more infoEdit

I will be adding more languages and creating new pages via links. Imperialguy

Gunwinyguan spellingEdit

The spelling Gunwiñguan is highly unusual. Australian language names are not transcribed with ñ, ny or ng in its place. Imperialguy

Should be ny. kwami

New PollEdit

There's a poll here that would (hopefully) end all this "Indigenous" vs. "Aborigine" controversy. Feel free to vote. Zarbat 09:19, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Yikes! Spelling System vs. Phonetic NotationEdit

In the Phonetics and Phonology section, some spelling system is being used where IPA definitely should be used instead.

The quotes around "retroflex" etc. should be removed while you are at it.

Whatever this system is -- actual spelling used by speaker, an Australianist phonetic system -- is interesting, but needs to be treated separately in an article on spelling/notation/whatever for Australian.

If you feel you must use this spelling system here -- it certainly needs an explanation and a link to an article with IPA equivalents.

EXAMPLE:

"A language which displays the full range of stops and laterals is Kalkutungu, which has labial p, m; "dental" th, nh, lh; "alveolar" t, n, l; "retroflex" rt, rn, rl; "palatal" ty, ny, ly; and velar k, ng. Yanyuwa has even more contrasts, with an additional true dorso-palatal series, plus prenasalized stops at all seven places of articulation, in addition to all four laterals"

These spellings are standardized and extremely common in the literature. The problem with the IPA is that, apart from retroflex ʈ ɳ ɭ, it's not so clear how they should be represented. To be precise, we'd need to subdiacritics on each letter, which is simply not legible. Even if we simplified it to t̪ t ʈ t̠, which is somewhat ambiguous, it would be hard to distinguish dental from "palatal" on most browsers. (I suppose we could copy the orthography and go t̪ tʲ, even though that's not very accurate.) The digraphs are just superior to the IPA in readability. kwami 07:32, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

RelationshipEdit

Josephine Flood (2004 p. 234) states that most languages that are not Pama-Nyungan have a relationship with the proto-Australian family in in verb and sound system, of corse there is still major differences. The languages stated as not being related to Pama-Nyungan are the Tiwi language and Djingili language. Would this be a correct assessment? Enlil Ninlil 04:56, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

AFAIK the idea of a proto-Australian has pretty much been abandoned. The relationship seems to be one of a Sprachbund (geographic area of mutual influence), not genealogical. Tiwi, being on an island, was perhaps not part of the general Sprachbund, while Djingili might have diverged more recently (though perhaps it was a spot the influences passed by).
A simple thought experiment illustrates how an Australian family doesn't make much sense: At that time depth, Sahul (Oz, New Guinea, and Tasmania) was a single land mass. But there are no New Guinea languages in the Australian family, and no Australian languages in any of the New Guinea families. It's not likely that the rising sea levels would just happen to follow the boundary of a language family. That suggests either that linguists haven't done their homework, or that the connections are too remote to be found. If Oz-NG is too deep to trace, then Oz itself should be too deep, and the connections we see today must be something other than genealogical. kwami 06:24, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Suggestions have been made but linguists tend to be very conservative about accepting groupings of languages above family level. When someone tried to create a proto-Australian language it was very like the languages of the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea and most of the variety in Australian languages is nearest New Guinea so it seems likely that the Australian languages (or most of them at least) will turn out to be a subgrouping of the Trans-New Guinea languages.
It is a mistake to think of the languages being the same ones that arrived in Sahul 60,000 years ago as there wasn't just one wave of migration in. Genetics proves that there were later migrations as Y-chromosome haplogroup K common in New Guinea and Australia (in New Guinea since split into M and S) originated in India maybe 40,000 years ago so couldn't have been in the earliest migration in (which is represented by haplogroup C. Presumably the older (Indo-Pacific?) Papuan languages (which have links to Great Andamanese and, if the findings aren't a coincidence, Kusunda came in with these genes maybe 20000-30000 years ago but some may well be from a different date. Trans-New Guinea languages came in later and have even been suggested to be related to the Borean languages, but this research is too early to tell, would make a lot of sense in my opinion though
86.152.221.121 (talk) 17:09, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Don't get me wrong, I have no idea about comparative Australian linguistics, but something like the "trihybrid theory" as related by Windschuttle (notwithstanding the odious political/ideological/racist implications unjustifiedly and illogically attached to it – compare the situation in the Pacific, the Americas or elsewhere, where different layers of immigrating or even conquering populations do not mean that the pre-European aborigines do not deserve special rights, let alone regular human rights; nobody or almost nobody is truly "indigenous" if you split hairs that finely, especially not most Europeans/whites!) makes a lot more sense in principle than the conventional idea of a single wave of immigration. In that case, there would be no reason to assume that all the immigrants came from the same region in Asia (in fact, the "trihybrid theory" explicitly says they did not), nor at the same time, so there is (even) less reason to expect that all Australian languages form a single, coherent (monophyletic) family ("phylum") and that a "Proto-Australian" language (or, more realistically, fragments thereof) can in principle be reconstructed (by the way, the "someone" who tried that and found apparent similarities to Trans-New-Guinea was Dixon himself).
Also, O'Grady, Geoff; Ken Hale. 2004. The Coherence and Distinctiveness of the Pama–Nyungan Language Family within the Australian Linguistic Phylum – does that mean that O'Grady and Hale still take the idea of a demonstrable Australian ("super/macro-")family ("phylum") seriously? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 08:54, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

Eradication of Tasmanian AborigineEdit

The intro says "The Tasmanian people were nearly eradicated early in Australia's colonial history". Why "nearly", when the article on Tasmanian Aborigine says that they "were the indigenous people of the island state of Tasmania"? Is that because there are today descendants of Tasmanian Aborigines, even though not full-blooded descendants? invenio tc 00:39, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

Yes, I think so. It would be hard to say they still are the indigenous people of Tasmania, though that may be s.t. that needs to be examined more carefully. — kwami (talk) 02:36, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

Map under classification headerEdit

This map gives the impression that the Aboriginal languages of Australia are only spoken in Northern Australia. If you look at a map such as this one, this one or this one, one can see that the languages are more spread over Australia rather than grouped in the north. Why are they only showed in the north on the map? --Lundgren8 (t · c) 21:29, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

They aren't. Yellow is a color too. — kwami (talk) 01:29, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for your clarification. I had missed that. My confusion came from that the Pama-Nyungan languages aren’t mentioned in the legend on Commons. Interesting that no languages are from another group on the rest of the island. --Lundgren8 (t · c) 07:27, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that's odd, and no-one has a convincing explanation for it. One possibility is that Pama-Nyungan is not a family but a Sprachbund: after 40,000–60,000 years they've all influenced each other to such an extent that they all seem related, and the northern families are recent arrivals from the Malay archipelago (since replaced there by the spread of Austronesian). But most Australianists accept PN as a valid family, as postulate that it spread across 7/8 of the continent replacing earlier families, though no-one can explain how that happened.
Fixed the legend at Commons. — kwami (talk) 03:11, 27 May 2012 (UTC)
Just a nitpick: Australia is not (considered) an island, but a continent. As for the dominance of Pama-Nyungan, admittedly, it really seems that obvious mechanisms like conquest, agriculture, pastoralism or technological advantages cannot explain it, and the mechanism for the PN expansion (if PN is a valid family at all) must have been more subtle (but probably hard to trace archaeologically or otherwise). But patterns like this are well-familiar around the world, even in regions like pre-colonial/contact-period North America, where geographically widespread families are spoken by foraging cultures. Africa is especially similar to Australia in this respect: There are a few huge groups at least as big and old as Pama-Nyungan, whose validity is open to doubt (Afro-Asiatic, Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congo), only a few isolates (Hadza, Sandawe) and perhaps a couple more, and then there are the Khoisan families in the far south, which are roughly analogous to non-Pama-Nyungan. Why the cradle of mankind appears to show so little "phylic" diversity apart from the far south, completely unlike the Americas, is a big mystery. But then, it's possible that the Greenbergian families in Africa (as in the Americas or the Pacific) are not really valid (or at least not completely) and Africa is really more like Asia and the Americas after all, with of a considerable number of small(er) families and isolates. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 09:38, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

Duplicate sectionEdit

Sections Internal and Subgrouping should be merged or at least made contiguous. --88.73.0.115 (talk) 17:01, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Names in Ruhlen 1987Edit

Here is the listing from Ruhlen, to verify that alt spellings & names have redirects. A few are typos, but might be looked up that way. — kwami (talk) 04:28, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

Edit: full list here. Only red links kept here:

gunbudj (ngunbudj, ≈umbugarla)

guwa (Maric), yanda (Maric), giya (Maric?), yiningay (Maric?), wadjalang (Maric?), gayiri (Maric?), yiman (Maric?)

Not much to do with the Maric langs, but Gunbudj should be taken care of. Can't access AIATSIS right now. — kwami (talk) 06:04, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

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Move pleaseEdit

This article should be moved to Indigenous Australian languages - nobody in this country uses the term "Aboriginal" any more. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 19:23, 13 January 2017 (UTC)

I have no stake in the discussion, but nothing seems wrong with your more modern terminology. Do you know how to do the move? (in the absence of objections from any other editors).--Quisqualis (talk) 03:37, 14 January 2017 (UTC)

It's not true that "no one" uses the term "Aboriginal" anymore. Indigenous is not a generally accepted term amongst First Peoples in Australia, though it is also often used, particularly in discussions about indigeneity more generally. Some see it as a term of erasure or euphemism. "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander" is still preferred and widely used amongst the material I read regularly. Indigenous languages is fine, but the reason for the change is spurious (and not supported by evidence by the original poster). Claire (talk) 11:28, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

Note this is an unpursued move (6 months no reply)

however as it is - there is a parallel usage here in the Australian project - and conversations in the past have ranged over the usage of

Aborigine
Aboriginal
Indigenous

as to the veracity of any one usage being the less offensive to those ascribed the various internal australian labels - australian aboriginal seems ok JarrahTree 12:03, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

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Relevance and datednessEdit

This article needs major revision and updating; it does not take into account a lot of recent research from the last 5-10 years. Claire (talk) 19:48, 19 July 2017 (UTC)

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I've just corrected the name of this map from Horton map of Australian Indigenous languages to the correct official name AIATSIS map of Aboriginal Australia as per https://aiatsis.gov.au/aboriginal-studies-press/products/aiatsis-map-indigenous-australia. It should of course be noted (as per the previous link) that this is **not** a map of languages. Dougg (talk) 03:20, 14 July 2017 (UTC)

One root languageEdit

According to a recent report "all Indigenous languages descend from one common language". 14.2.224.5 (talk) 23:26, 27 March 2018 (UTC)

Also reported by BBC:

Researchers in Australia say they have traced the country's indigenous languages back to a single, common tongue. The languages are all derived from a mother tongue, known as Proto-Australian, that was spoken about 10,000 years ago, according to a new study. ... The research, published in the Diachronica linguistics journal, is the first to prove that all of those languages came from the same family, said linguists at the University of Newcastle, Australia and Western Sydney University.

Nixinova T | E ⟩ 04:08, 28 March 2018 (UTC)
I'd say it's too early to tell. Many times a theory comes up like this only for a reaction paper to be written a year or two latter contesting it. Still the results of the study should be added to all relative articles. Inter&anthro (talk) 14:25, 28 March 2018 (UTC)
Agreed. This is not 'researchers', but two researchers in particular. And they make a strong claim but I don't think it can yet be considered 'proven'. Dougg (talk) 10:28, 29 March 2018 (UTC)
Two reliable secondary sources (ABC, BBC) are treating the theory as fact, and so should we (unless/until someone produces research to the contrary). Mitch Ames (talk) 02:39, 30 March 2018 (UTC)
News sources can't be used to establish an academic theory as a fact. What we have is an hypothesis, not a fact, as the two authors would acknowledge because scholarship in such highly conjectural reconstruction accept as a constituent element of their work, that inferences and deductions which lead to an explanatory model are always provisory, for the simple reason that the past is past, and one cannot 'check back' or verify one's deductions against a reality that has expired, and only survives in bits and patches in linguistic data that, in the meantime (10,000 years) had itself undergone radical transformations.Nishidani (talk) 07:54, 30 March 2018 (UTC)
I understand your point, but it's not for Wikipedia editors to evaluate the research (a primary source) either - that's what secondary sources such as news articles are for. Statements like "claim to have demonstrated" are contrary to WP:CLAIM; while one reference uses "claim", two others [1][2] do not. Perhaps it would be better to reword our article to explicitly say that it's a hypothesis, rather than a claim (or a statement of fact), e.g. say something like "the study hypothesised that...", which (in the context of an academic theory) is accurate and neutral. And/or quote an appropriate part from the study that summarises in plain English what the authors are saying. I read the abstract, but don't understand it enough to reliably quote from it or accurately paraphrase it. The best I do would be "evaluating [the Porto-Australian] hypothesis ... we show that inheritance is favoured over chance and contact", but that's not plain English (and I'm not sure I understand it anyway). Mitch Ames (talk) 09:17, 30 March 2018 (UTC)
Okay. Just for the record, I didn't evaluate the primary research. I did read it, however, before looking at the newspaper accounts, which meant that I could see at sight that the lazy anonymous journalists behind two of the reports evidently hadn't read the paper, and knew nothing of the topic, with the unsigned BBC saying they had prove(n) something, 'that all of those languages came from the same family.' The ABC is more careful:'After decades of debate, Australian researchers say they have finally proven a theory that all Indigenous languages descend from one common language.' Why did I make that edit? Because the paper's language, not reflected in those two brief reader-friendly articles, everywhere states that they are proposing an hypothesis.
(1) 'We consider a remote relationship hypothesis, the Proto-Australian hypothesis we consider the alternative hypothesis . . .we propose . ..'
(2)'remote transmission as a hypothesis for their relatedness is favoured over recent transmission.'
(3)'The alternative hypothesis, that the Yanyuwa prefix system involves elements inherited from PA, has not been examined.We evaluate these two hypotheses in §8, and we provide evidence that theinheritance hypothesis is better supported.'
(4)We propose that these proto-prefixes would have been vulnerable to initial dropping, even in cases where the rest of the lexicon in a language does not show effects of initial dropping. Synchronic and diachronic evidence from NPN languages supports this hypothesis.'
(5)'We propose that the Mawng adjectival niɲ- and the Umbugarla adjectival kiɲ involve additional, outer prefixation of Masculine prefixes, as discussed in §7.1.For Mawng, evidence within the Iwaidjan family supports this hypothesis.'
(6) 'The evidence supports the hypothesis that any horizontal transmission of prefix paradigms would be a remote and not a recent phenomenon..'
(7)'Evidence potentially supporting the PA hypothesis is found in a range of domains, as summarized in Table 22.'
(8)'As discussed in §10, there is evidence from other grammatical and lexical domains which also appears to support the PA hypothesis.'
If you look at the scant mentions of it, being just out, then there is a divide between quotes having both authors say they have proven the hypothesis (very dangerous in this area of scholarship), and then admitting it jars with other ideas, and 'may' have been the case. I read a preprint version (before getting the Diachronics article) but can't find that early version linked now. By 'claim' I was not expressing skepticism: it's just that speculative reconstructions about linguistic events 12,000 (not 10,000) years ago are extremely dicey. It is a very good paper with an interesting argument, but we should not be using newspaper snippets of news just out, written by anonymous journos with no evident grasp of the topic, to suggest this is factual. It is, as you say, speculative and hypothetical.Nishidani (talk) 14:03, 30 March 2018 (UTC)

"Aboriginal languages" listed at Redirects for discussionEdit

An editor has asked for a discussion to address the redirect Aboriginal languages. Please participate in the redirect discussion if you wish to do so. Steel1943 (talk) 21:50, 29 August 2019 (UTC)

Return to "Australian Aboriginal languages" page.