Journal article

From body part to applicative: Encoding ‘source’ in Murrinhpatha

Rachel Nordlinger

Linguistic Typology | Walter de Gruyter GmbH | Published : 2019


Murrinhpatha (non-Pama-Nyungan, Australia) is typologically unusual in having a single applicative construction with the semantics of source/malefactive, but never benefactive. In this paper I discuss the development of this applicative from an incorporated body part meaning ‘hand’. I show that the applicative developed from a reanalysis of the external possession construction; and that the applicative morphology developed from the incorporated body part, rather than from a verbal or adpositional source. This contributes to our understanding of the typology of applicative constructions and also highlights the value in exploring the complex verbal constructions of polysynthetic languages to i..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language

Awarded by ARC

Funding Acknowledgements

The argument and analysis presented in this paper was first presented in conference papers at the European Australianist meeting in Leuven (2009) and the Association for Linguistic Typology conference in (2011), and I thank audiences of those presentations foSr useful feedback that has helped to strengthen and refine the paper. I am extremely grateful to Francella Bunduck, Bill Forshaw, John Mansfield and Joe Blythe for contributing data, and especially to Carmelita Perdjert and the other speakers of Murrinhpatha who have worked with me over many years and have contributed the bulk of the data on which this analysis is based. I am also appreciative of the comments and suggestions of Masha Koptjevskaja Tamm, Angela Terrill and four Linguistic Typology reviewers which led to substantial improvements in argumentation and presentation. This research has been funded by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (Project ID: CE140100041), and through ARC Discovery Projects DP110100961 and DP0984419.