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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton April 28, 2012

The role of codeswitched input to children in the origin of a new mixed language

Carmel O'Shannessy,
From the journal Linguistics


Light Warlpiri is a mixed language, with Warlpiri and Aboriginal English/Kriol as its sources. It was developed by a group who received codeswitched input in a baby talk register from when they were young. The innovating group conventionalized the input they received and developed morphosyntactic structures beyond those in the input. The development of Light Warlpiri shows that commonly occurring processes in language contact situations, codeswitching and re-analyses of existing forms, play an important role in the extreme outcome of the development of a mixed language, through a two-part process: a) an adult group directed codeswitched speech to children, and b) the children conventionalized and expanded the morphosyntactic structures they heard. The new code is an in-group language and did not emerge in order to indicate a new dual-cultural identity, but since its development it has come to signal the identity of young Warlpiri from Lajamanu.

Received: 2010-07-17
Revised: 2011-07-21
Published Online: 2012-04-28
Published in Print: 2012-03-22

©[2012] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston