|Ethnicity||Dangbon = Dalabon|
Dalabon is a Gunwinyguan language of Arnhem Land, Australia. It is a severely endangered language, with perhaps as few as three fluent speakers remaining as of 2018. Dalabon is also known as Dangbon (the Kune or Mayali name), Ngalkbun (the Jawoyn name), and Buwan (the Rembarrnga name).
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.
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.
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.
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).
|Stops||Lenis (short)||⟨k⟩ /k/||⟨b⟩ /p/||⟨d⟩ t||⟨rd⟩ /ʈ/||⟨dj⟩ /c/||⟨h⟩ /ʔ/|
|Fortis (long)||⟨kk⟩ /kː/||⟨bb⟩ /pː/||⟨dd⟩ /tː/||⟨rdd⟩ /ʈː/||⟨djj⟩ /cː/|
|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/|
There are 6 vowels in Dalabon. A table containing the vowel phonemes is given below with their orthographic representation (in angle brackets).
|High||⟨i⟩ /i/||⟨û⟩ /ɨ/||⟨u⟩ /u/|
|mid||⟨e⟩ /e/||⟨o⟩ /o/|
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)
Such complex codas are not unusual, and all combinations are enumerated as follows (words and translations taken from the dictionary).
"native bee sp."
|kolb /kolp/||kalngbuy /kalŋ.buj/||kolh-no /kolʔ.no/
"(to) fall out"
"(to) be accustomed to"
"hop of a riverine wallaby"
|rr_|| kerrkban /kerk.ban/
"(to) tell lies"
"sorcerer, clever man"
"top (of something)"
|r_||berk /beɻk/||wirbmang /wiɻp.maŋ/
"(to) pull out from flesh"
"devil, white person"
"(to) gobble up"
Dalabon has a pattern of eliding unstressed vowels and unstressed syllables. For example, the word /'cabale/ 'shoulder blade' is often realized as ['cable].
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.
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, polysynthetic word structure, verb conjugations, the use of subordination strategies, nominal subclasses, the demonstrative system, and the use of optional ergativity.
The structure of Dalabon verbs:
|Obj pron||Subj pron||SURB||SEQ||CAUS||MISC||BEN/INST||MISC||GIN||BPIN||NUM||COM||STEM||RR||TAM||Case|
SEQ: sequential ‘and then’
misc: various adverbial type prefixes
BEN: benefactive applicative
gin: ‘generic’ incorporated nouns
bpin: ‘body part’ incorporated nouns
num: ‘number’ prefixes
COM: comitative applicative
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.
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);
'Oh, he fell over poor fellow.' Unknown glossing abbreviation(s) (help);
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
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:
‘..because there were so many of them.’
‘we heard his(dingo's) voice as we were sleeping.’
karrkkany ka-h-ngun kaye-do-n.
hawk.sp. 3/3l-REAL-eat.PRES 3.SUBORD-die-PRES
‘the hawk eats animals that die.’
|bim||"picture"||kolh-no||"liquid"||wadda||"home, house, camp"|
|bonj||"O.K."||kunj||"kangaroo"||walu-no||"the absolute law"|
|burrama||"good, healthy"||langu||"hand/finger"||wokan||"speak, talk, tell, name, evoke, communicate"|
|dulum||"hill"||men-no||"conscience, the thoughts of a living creature"||yabok||"sister"|
|kardu||"maybe"||mey||"(veget.) food"||yang||"language, speech, what one says"|
|kirribruk||"true, real, honest, fair, generous"||Ngurrurdu||"emu"|