Dalabon
Ngalkbun
Native toAustralia
RegionArnhem Land
EthnicityDangbon = Dalabon
Native speakers
3 (2018)
Macro-Gunwinyguan?
Language codes
ISO 639-3ngk
Glottologngal1292
AIATSIS[1]N60
ELPDalabon
Approximate location where Dalabon is spoken
Dalabon
Coordinates: 13°59′S 133°56′E / 13.98°S 133.94°E / -13.98; 133.94

Dalabon is a Gunwinyguan language of Arnhem Land, Australia. It is a severely endangered language,[2] with perhaps as few as three fluent speakers remaining as of 2018.[3] Dalabon is also known as Dangbon (the Kune or Mayali name), Ngalkbun (the Jawoyn name), and Buwan (the Rembarrnga name).[1]

Classification

Dalabon belongs to the Gunwinyguan languages branch of the Australian languages, its nearest relatives are Kunwinjku, Kune, Mayali (varieties often grouped together as Bininj Kunwok) and Kunbarlang. Its next closest relatives are Rembarrnga, and other languages within the Gunwinyguan family, including Jawoyn, Ngalakgan, Ngandi, Wubuy, and Enindhilyakwa.

Official status

Dalabon has no official status. Local schools spent years to hold sporadic programs teaching Dalabon, but these operations didn't receive enough governmental support. Therefore, the condition of programs is still vulnerable.

Dialect/Varieties

Given the limited number of Dalabon speakers, the study of dialects has become challenging to investigate. Speakers recall a distinction between two different types of speech, dalabon-djurrkdjurrk ("fast", "lively") and dalabon-murduk ("articulate"). However, no significant difference has been found between the two speeches.

Phonology and Orthography

Consonants

There are 22 or 23 phonemic consonants in Dalabon, depending on the phonemic status of /h/. A table containing the consonant phonemes is given below with their orthographic representation (in angle brackets).

Dalabon consonant phonemes
Peripheral Apico- Lamino-Palatal Glottal
Velar Bilabial Alveolar Retroflex
Stops Lenis (short) ⟨k⟩ /k/ ⟨b⟩ /p/ ⟨d⟩ t ⟨rd⟩ /ʈ/ ⟨dj⟩ /c/ ⟨h⟩ /ʔ/
Fortis (long) ⟨kk⟩ // ⟨bb⟩ // ⟨dd⟩ // ⟨rdd⟩ /ʈː/ ⟨djj⟩ //
Nasal ⟨ng⟩ /ŋ/ ⟨m⟩ /m/ ⟨n⟩ /n/ ⟨rn⟩ /ɳ/ ⟨nj⟩ /ɲ/
Lateral ⟨l⟩ /l/ ⟨rl⟩ /ɭ/
Rhotic ⟨rr⟩ /r/ ⟨r⟩ /ɻ/
Semi-vowel ⟨w⟩ /w/ ⟨y⟩ /j/
Fricatives ⟨H⟩ (/h/)

Vowels

There are 6 vowels in Dalabon. A table containing the vowel phonemes is given below with their orthographic representation (in angle brackets).

Dalabon vowel phonemes
Front Central Back
High ⟨i⟩ /i/ ⟨û⟩ /ɨ/ ⟨u⟩ /u/
mid ⟨e⟩ /e/ ⟨o⟩ /o/
low ⟨a⟩ /a/

Phonotactics

Dalabon restricts the trilled [r] and long stops to only occur word-internally. Constraints regarding the edges of a phonological word also limit the glottal stop [ʔ] from occurring word-initially.

The syllable structure of Dalabon is CV(C)(C)(C), or more specifically:

CV(L)(N)(h) or CV(L)(S)

where:

Such complex codas are not unusual, and all combinations are enumerated as follows (words and translations taken from the dictionary[4]).

Complex coda of two consonants

C2
C1
_k _b _ng _h
l_ yalkngalk /jalk.ŋalk/

"native bee sp."

kolb /kolp/

"sound of spear slotting into spearthrower"

kalngbuy /ka.buj/

"initiation ritual"

kolh-no /ko.no/

"liquid, water"

rl_ borlk /boɭk.mɨ/

"(to) fall out"

borlb /boɭp.mɨ/

"(to) be accustomed to"

lurlh(mû) /luɭʔ(.mɨ)/

"hop of a riverine wallaby"

rr_ kerrkban /kerk.ban/

"(to) dodge"

yang-warrb /jaŋ.warp.mɨ/

"(to) tell lies"

marrngkidj /ma.kic/

"sorcerer, clever man"

bukarrh /bu.ka/

"top (of something)"

r_ berk /beɻk/

"deaf adder"

wirbmang /wiɻp.maŋ/

"(to) pull out from flesh"

kerng-no /keɻŋ.no/

"jaw"

warh /waɻʔ.dɨ/

"devil, white person"

ng_ wanjingh /wa.ɳiŋʔ/

"one"

m_ njimh /ɳi.mɨ/

"(to) wink"

n_ kanh /ka/

"this (identified)"

rn_ nornhnornh /noɳʔ.noɳʔ/

"stone axe"

nj_ keninjhbi /ke.niɲʔ.bi/

"whatsit, whosit"

Complex coda of three consonants

C2,C3
C1
_ngh
l_ kalngH /kalŋhmɨ/

"(to) climb"

rl_ njorlngh /ɲoɭŋʔmɨ/

"(to) gobble up"

rr_ ngarnarrngh /ŋaɳarŋʔ/

"marble tree"

r_ modjarngh /mocaɻŋʔ/

"ground honey"

Phonological processes

Dalabon has a pattern of eliding unstressed vowels and unstressed syllables. For example, the word /'cabale/ 'shoulder blade' is often realized as ['cable].[5]

Prosody

The location of phrasal stress in Dalabon appears one or two peaks with an initial rise into the first peak at the left edge of the constituent and a final fall at the right edge of the constituent.[6]

Grammar

Although there is no complete grammatical description of the language, a number of aspects of Dalabon grammar have been described, including its bound pronominal system,[7] polysynthetic word structure,[8] verb conjugations,[9] the use of subordination strategies,[10] nominal subclasses,[11] the demonstrative system,[12] and the use of optional ergativity.[13]

Morphology

The structure of Dalabon verbs:[14]

-12 -11 -10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3
Obj pron Subj pron SURB SEQ CAUS MISC BEN/INST MISC GIN BPIN NUM COM STEM RR TAM Case

SEQ: sequential ‘and then’

CAUS: ‘because’

misc: various adverbial type prefixes

BEN: benefactive applicative

gin: ‘generic’ incorporated nouns

bpin: ‘body part’ incorporated nouns

num: ‘number’ prefixes

COM: comitative applicative

RR: Reflexive/reciprocal

TAM: tense/aspect mood

The diminutive enclitic =wurd is derived from noun wurd 'woman's child', its reduplication wurdurd means 'child'. wurd can attach to most word classes and functions in 3 ways of meaning: to denote small objects, to add emotional connotations and to serve as pragmatic functions (especially for interactional softening). The examples are shown below.[15]

1.
to denote small objects

Bad-dulum-no=wurd

stone-hill-fill=DIM

kanidjah

there

ka-h-di.

3SG-R-stand/be.PRS

Bad-dulum-no=wurd kanidjah ka-h-di.

stone-hill-fill=DIM there 3SG-R-stand/be.PRS

'There is a small stone hill there.' Unknown glossing abbreviation(s) (help);

2.
to add emotional connotations

Wa:h

INTERJ

ka-h-rakka-ng=wurd.

3SG-R-fall-PFV=DIM

Wa:h ka-h-rakka-ng=wurd.

INTERJ 3SG-R-fall-PFV=DIM

'Oh, he fell over poor fellow.' Unknown glossing abbreviation(s) (help);

Syntax

Dalabon is a head-marking language. Dalabon has limited use of subordinate clauses, but it has a distinctive subordination strategy, which is to attach pronominal prefixes to the verb, and marked verbs are used for subordinate clause functions[16]

Pronominal Prefixes Subordinate1 Subordinate2
1sg nga- ngaye-
2sg dja- djaya-
3sg ka- kaye-
1dis nge- ngey-
3dis ke- key-
3du barra- barre-
3pl bala- bale-

subordinate1: the unmarked form of prefixes to show subordinate status, used when the status is overt by other means.

subordinate2: used when prefixes are the only way to show subordination.

dis: disharmonic, meaning odd-numbered generations.

Examples are shown below:

(1)

bala-buh-ngong+boyenj-ni-nj

3pl-because-mob+big-be-PST.PFV

mahkih

because

bala-buh-ngong+boyenj-ni-nj mahkih

3pl-because-mob+big-be-PST.PFV because

‘..because there were so many of them.’

(2)

yila-h-yang-wona-wona-n

1pl/3-REAL-voice-REDUP-hear-PRES

yale-yu-yu.

1pl.SUBORD-REDUP-sleep.PRES

yila-h-yang-wona-wona-n yale-yu-yu.

1pl/3-REAL-voice-REDUP-hear-PRES 1pl.SUBORD-REDUP-sleep.PRES

‘we heard his(dingo's) voice as we were sleeping.’

(3)

karrkkany

hawk.sp.

ka-h-ngun

3/3l-REAL-eat.PRES

kaye-do-n.

3.SUBORD-die-PRES

karrkkany ka-h-ngun kaye-do-n.

hawk.sp. 3/3l-REAL-eat.PRES 3.SUBORD-die-PRES

‘the hawk eats animals that die.’

Vocabulary

Dalabon Gloss Dalabon Gloss Dalabon Gloss
bim "picture" kolh-no "liquid" wadda "home, house, camp"
biyi "man(men)" kung "honey" wah "water"
bonj "O.K." kunj "kangaroo" walu-no "the absolute law"
boyenj "big" labbarl "waterhole" wirridjih "taboo(s)"
burrama "good, healthy" langu "hand/finger" wokan "speak, talk, tell, name, evoke, communicate"
dabarngh "yesterday" mah "also" wol "flame"
dengu-no "foot/toe" mambard "billycan" wurdurd "child(children)"
djihkun "spoon" marrumbu "lover wurrhwurrungu "the elders"
dulum "hill" men-no "conscience, the thoughts of a living creature" yabok "sister"
kardu "maybe" mey "(veget.) food" yang "language, speech, what one says"
kakkak-no "grandkin" murduk "hard/strong" yidjnja "have"
kenbo "later" nayunghyungki "mythical ancestors"
kinikun "different" ngalyurr "thunder"
kirdikird "woman(women)" ngarrk "ache"
kirribruk "true, real, honest, fair, generous" Ngurrurdu "emu"

References

  1. ^ a b N60 Dalabon at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  2. ^ Ponsonnet, Maïa (2018). "Expressivity and performance. Expressing compassion and grief with a prosodic contour in Gunwinyguan languages (northern Australia)". Journal of Pragmatics. 136: 79–96. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2018.08.009. hdl:1885/165435. ISSN 0378-2166.
  3. ^ Cutfield, Sarah (30 June 2018). "Dalabon exophoric uses of demonstratives". In Stephen Levinson; Sarah Cutfield; Michael Dunn; Nick Enfield; Sergio Meira; David Wilkins (eds.). Demonstratives in Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Cambridge University Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-108-34137-0.
  4. ^ Evans, Merlan & Tukumba (2004)
  5. ^ Fletcher, Janet; Evans, Nicholas (2002). "An acoustic phonetic analysis of intonational prominence in two Australian languages". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 32 (2): 123–140. doi:10.1017/S0025100302001019. S2CID 144244382.
  6. ^ Ross, Belinda (2003). The phonological/grammatical mismatch in the Dalabon word: a phonetic study (Thesis). hdl:11343/35879.
  7. ^ Evans, N. and D. Brown and G. Corbett. (2001). Dalabon pronominal prefixes and the typology of syncretism: a Network Morphology analysis. Yearbook of Morphology 2000. 187-231.
  8. ^ Evans, N. (2017). Polysynthesis in Dalabon. In Fortescue, Mithun & Evans (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Polysynthesis, 312-335. Oxford University Press.
  9. ^ Evans, N. & Merlan, F. (2003). Dalabon Verb Conjugations. In Evans, Nicholas (ed.), The non-Pama-Nyungan languages of northern Australia : comparative studies of the continent's most linguistically complex region, 269-283. Pacific Linguistics.
  10. ^ Evans, Nicholas (1 April 2006). "Who Said Polysynthetic Languages Avoid Subordination? Multiple Subordination Strategies in Dalabon". Australian Journal of Linguistics. 26 (1): 31–58. doi:10.1080/07268600500531628. S2CID 59647678.
  11. ^ Ponsonnet, M. (2015). Nominal Subclasses in Dalabon (South-western Arnhem Land). Australian Journal of Linguistics 35(1): 1-52.
  12. ^ Cutfield, S. (2011). Demonstratives in Dalabon: A language of southwestern Arnhem Land. (Doctoral dissertation, Monash University; xx+485pp.)
  13. ^ Luk, Ellison; Ponsonnet, Maïa (3 July 2019). "Discourse and Pragmatic Functions of the Dalabon 'Ergative' Case-marker". Australian Journal of Linguistics. 39 (3): 287–328. doi:10.1080/07268602.2019.1623758. S2CID 198334816.
  14. ^ Evans, N. (2006).
  15. ^ Grandi, Nicola; Körtvélyessy, Lívia (2015). Edinburgh Handbook of Evaluative Morphology. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-8174-7.[page needed]
  16. ^ Evans, N. (2006).

Further reading