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These languages provide an interesting test case for exploring the perceptual effects of language contact in that the clear majority of Australian languages do not have contrastive stop voicing, while English, the primary lexifier of Kriol and Gurindji Kriol, clearly does.


We show that, based on perceptual data and with further evidence from production data from previous studies Bundgaard-Nielsen and Baker, ; Jones and Meakins, , it is likely that during the development of Kriol and Gurindji Kriol, the stop contrast was not initially present. This study also demonstrates that Kriol is more advanced in the development of a voicing contrast than Gurindji Kriol, which is likely the result of 50 years more exposure to English through the earlier presence of formal Western education.

Importantly, this study provides further evidence that linguistic systems and complexity develop incrementally and with variation. This study provides a more nuanced picture of how stratification occurs. In this respect, this study joins the growing morphosyntactic literature on mixed languages that demonstrates the complex nature of language development under intensive contact with other languages. Earlier studies often characterised mixed languages as faithfully replicating the morphosyntactic patterns from both of their source languages, however subsequent studies have noted that transferred grammatical elements often undergo change when they are absorbed into the recipient language often under the influence of patterns in the recipient language.

Furthermore, absorption is not categorical but is an incremental process, resulting in variation among speakers.

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For example, the transfer of the Gurindji ergative suffix into Gurindji Kriol in the genesis of this mixed language saw its transformation into an optional nominative case suffix under the influence of Kriol argument structure Meakins, Similarly, this study captures two languages at different stages of developing phonological stratification, demonstrating how the contrast has developed in individual bilingual speakers and is incrementally propagating through the speaker communities.

Gurindji Kriol is a mixed language spoken in the Victoria River District of northern Australia that is located kilometres from the nearest town of Katherine. It emerged around 40 years ago and is now spoken by Gurindji people in the Aboriginal communities 1 of Daguragu and Kalkaringi, and by Bilinarra and Ngarinyman people in two communities north of Kalkaringi—Pigeon Hole and Yarralin. Gurindji Kriol originates in Gurindji Ngumpin Yapa, Pama-Nyungan , the traditional Australian language of the region, and Kriol, the English-lexifier creole language spoken across much of northern Australia.

It combines the lexicon and structure of these two languages. The structural mix of Gurindji Kriol is well documented, with Gurindji providing much of the noun phrase system and Kriol contributing the verb phrase system e. This type of mixed language is referred to as a V erb -N oun mixed language and includes Michif and Light Warlpiri Matras and Bakker, ; Meakins, b. The lexicon of Gurindji Kriol is also highly mixed. Based on a word Swadesh list, The remaining The extent of lexical mixing is shown in 1 below where Gurindji forms are given in italics and Kriol forms in plain font.

Gurindji Kriol now has around speakers. It is the main language spoken and acquired at Kalkaringi. Gurindji is still spoken by people over the age of 40 years, albeit generally code-switched with Kriol. All Gurindji people speak Kriol to varying extents when they visit Kriol-speaking areas to the north, for example Katherine and Timber Creek, but do not speak it at home. Standard Australian English is the language of the school despite the fact that children enter school with no background in English. Gurindji Kriol originated from contact between non-Indigenous colonists and the Gurindji people.

In the early s, white pastoralists set up cattle stations in the Victoria River District area, including on the homelands of the Gurindji. Many Gurindji people were killed in skirmishes over land, and the remaining people were put to work on Wave Hill Station in the early s as stockmen and kitchen hands in slave-like conditions together with other Aboriginal groups such as the Bilinarra and Ngarinyman.

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Today the Gurindji continue to live on their traditional lands at Kalkaringi Charola and Meakins The linguistic practices of the Gurindji are closely tied to these social circumstances. The establishment of the cattle stations by colonisers saw the introduction of the cattle station pidgin the basis of Kriol into the linguistic repertoire of the Gurindji. Code-switching was a common practice and it is likely that it provided a fertile ground for the formation of the mixed language McConvell and Meakins, ; Meakins, , The shift to a mixed language rather than monolingual Kriol was probably the result of the fact that Kalkaringi had only one dominant language with other languages present such as Bilinarra and Ngarinyman mostly mutually intelligible rather than many disparate languages spoken in one community that is a characteristic of Kriol-speaking communities see below.

English has had little foothold in the community, perhaps due to its late introduction.

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It is not entirely clear when a school was established in Kalkaringi but probably not before the s. Most access to English before then was in the limited communication Gurindji people had with station people who, in any case, mostly addressed Gurindji people using the cattle pidgin. Kriol is an English-lexifier creole language and the first language of most Aboriginal people across the Top End of Australia with the exception of northern Arnhem Land and the Daly River region Munro, ; Sandefur and Harris, Kriol is now the main language of these communities, with traditional Australian languages rarely used except by the oldest generations.

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English is the second most widely used language in most of these places, although is only learnt when children enter school. Like Kalkaringi, all education and government services are provided in English. Citation: Journal of Language Contact 11, 1 ; Structurally, Kriol is an isolating language with little bound morphology, for example core arguments are differentiated using word order or marked by prepositions.

Similarly, tense, mood, and aspect tam categories are expressed through auxiliary verbs rather than inflections Sandefur, The lexicon of Kriol is almost entirely derived from English, with a small amount of vocabulary maintained from surrounding substrate languages, in particular Marra Dickson, Some examples are given below. Kriol originated in nsw Pidgin and spread north to Queensland and the Northern Territory in the early s through the pastoral industry via Aboriginal labour imported from Queensland and nativised in different places Meakins, ; Sandefur and Harris, ; Simpson, for an overview.

One of the earliest varieties of this cattle station pidgin to nativise was Roper River Kriol at Roper River Mission now Ngukurr in the early s. Roper River Mission was established as a refuge for Aboriginal people from nine different language groups including Alawa, Marra, Warndarrang, Ngalakgan, and Ngandi who were escaping massacres.

Most Aboriginal people were fluent in two or more of these languages.

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In addition, they would have spoken the pidgin English that arose from interaction with the colonists at least 30 years prior to the establishment of the mission. For many Aboriginal people at the mission, the cattle station pidgin became their lingua franca , with traditional languages reserved for in-group communication. The mission also separated children from their parents so a combination of community-level multilingualism and lack of access to traditional languages most likely contributed to the formation of Kriol rather than a mixed language, as was the case for Gurindji Kriol.

The presence of English was also strongly felt in the mission with children taught in English right from its establishment in the early s Harris, In this respect, Ngukurr is a community that has around 50 years and two generations more contact with English than Kalkaringi where Gurindji Kriol developed. It has been shown that listeners weight relevant cues encoded in the speech stream to identify contrasts Lisker, ; Scobbie, Some cues are given priority over others and experiments involving the removal of specific cues e.

When languages have a distinction between stop consonants in the same place of articulation, one of the primary cues used to distinguish such categories involves voice onset time vot. This cue refers to the temporal duration from the moment of release of the closure to the onset of voicing in the following vowel Lisker and Abramson, When a stop series is contrastive, it often conforms to one of three patterns: voiced, voiceless unaspirated, and aspirated Keating, The vot of stop consonants, like those found in French dialects Caramazza and Yeni-Komshian, ; Hoonhorst et al.

Other secondary cues thought to be involved in stop production and perception include pitch F0 depression after voiced stops Abramson and Lisker, This can be observed as a decrease in the fundamental frequency right after release. Another secondary cue involves the loss of the initial transition of the first formant F1 in vowels following a voiceless stop known as F1 cutback Liberman, Delattre, and Cooper, ; Lisker and Abramson, The duration of the post-stop vowel has also been shown to correlate with stop voicing contrasts Miller and Dexter, ; Summerfield, Those described here all come from the mixed language or Kriol literature and all suggest that phonology, like the lexicon and grammar of a language, also does not conform to any clear systematic paradigmatic patterns in situations of borrowing but rather variation is commonplace, perhaps as an intermediate step in the development of a system.

Unlike English, traditional Gurindji does not have a voicing contrast in the stop series, which consists of [p, t, c, k]. One particularly relevant finding to this study describes vot variation in Kriol-derived and Gurindji-derived words produced by adult speakers of Gurindji Kriol. Here, they tested whether the values systematically relate to those in English cognates.

Based on data gathered from a picture naming task and natural speech, their results show that there is little effect of English voicing in Gurindji Kriol among words of Kriol or Gurindji origin in word-initial position, although there is some degree of variability Jones and Meakins, : These findings raise the questions: How are stops categorically perceived in Gurindji Kriol and is there any variation based on age or exposure to Australian English?

And how do their results compare with those of Kriol? Based on impressionistic data, Kriol has been described as not having a stop voicing contrast, at least not in basilectal varieties, in existing published literature Hudson, ; Munro, ; Sandefur, as well as in recent surveys Butcher, ; Schultze-Berndt, Meakins, and Angelo, However, Bundgaard-Nielsen and Baker and Baker, Bundgaard-Nielsen, and Graetzer , show that second and third generations of monolingual Roper Kriol speakers both produce and perceive stop-voicing contrasts [p-b, t-d, k-g] while first generation speakers show variability.

What makes this situation worthy of further investigation, however, is the fact that variation between the voiced and voiceless series shows that speakers are at least able to make the correct articulatory gestures needed to produce such sounds. This means speakers might be able to take advantage of such variability perceptually when needed e.

Because Kriol, as it is spoken at Ngukurr, developed earlier than Gurindji Kriol and has been in contact with English which has a clear stop voicing contrast for longer and more intensively through an extended period of schooling, we might expect Kriol listener perception to be more contrastive than their Gurindji Kriol counterparts.

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  7. Through constant modern day contact with English, however, both languages may be adopting the stop voicing contrast—Kriol in all parts of speech and the Kriol origin lexicon in Gurindji-Kriol e. If the adoption process was merely for sociolinguistic reasons, we would expect a quicker diffusion of the contrast as speakers would be made consciously aware of the difference.

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    However, an incremental and variable change may signify the structure of the language is benefiting from adopting the contrast e. Regarding perception, there are four primary outcomes that will reveal how stop consonants are categorized in the phonology of these languages: 1 the voiced series assimilates to the voiceless series, 2 both series are perceptually contrastive, 3 both series exist in free variation, and 4 the voiceless series is established while the voiced series is in flux. Bundgaard-Nielsen and Baker show that for elicited stops from three Roper Kriol speakers, there is a clear contrast between voiced and voiceless stop production in the English origin lexicon.

    Moreover, they also show variability in stop voicing production in a Kriol dominant Wubuy L1 speaker that suggests Wubuy speakers make use of a single stop category regarding voicing. With respect to perception, Bundgaard-Nielsen and Baker showed that Wubuy listeners had a difficult time discriminating between both English and Kriol labial stops that differed in vot duration; a result they attribute to the lack of native experience in dealing with the voicing contrast.

    The adoption of the stop voicing contrast by Kriol speakers might be expected before that in Gurindji Kriol since the functional load of the contrast would affect the entire Kriol lexicon rather than just the Gurindji Kriol verb phrase elements. In Media Lengua, a lexicon-grammar lg mixed language Matras and Bakker, ; Meakins, b spoken in Ecuador, with Imbabura Quichua systemic elements and an Ecuadorian Rural Spanish-derived lexicon, Stewart showed the Spanish voiced stop series has been adopted, both productively and perceptually, by Quichua 3 and Media Lengua speakers with varying ages and levels of Spanish proficiency.

    The vot values of these adopted stops, however, are longer in duration than their original Spanish counterparts suggesting some degree of overshoot during acquisition. Stewart forthcoming, also claims a similar tendency for Spanish-derived vowels in both Quichua and Media Lengua. Based on the differences in formation between these two mixed languages code-switching in Gurindji Kriol McConvell and Meakins, versus.

    To illustrate this point, in Michif, which, like Gurindji Kriol, is a V erb- N oun mixed language Bakker, : ; Meakins, a : , with Cree-derived verb phrases and French-derived noun phrases, Rosen, Stewart, and Cox show that speakers have actually only adopted a small number of French vowels while the rest assimilate to their Cree counterparts. It should be noted that there have been attempts to systematically categorize these phonological processes. Van Gijn provided an in-depth analysis suggesting that mixed languages borrow phonological material based on type of lexical and grammatical material they adopt.

    Here, a language with a lexical-grammar split, where the lexicon of one language and the grammar from another combine to make a new language e. On the other hand, noun-verb mixed languages, which borrow lexical items categorically e. Recent studies referenced above that explore the phonetic properties of these sound systems, however, paint a more complex picture involving mergers, near-mergers, segments with substantial overlap in acoustic space, and category maintenance.

    Other patterns e. Turning briefly to the bilingual literature, Pasquale revealed that when speaking Quechua, Quechua-Spanish bilinguals dominant in Quechua produced overall shorter vot values than Quechua monolinguals; values that trended towards Spanish-like production. Spanish-dominant bilinguals, on the other hand, showed no noticeable shift toward Quechua-like vot production when speaking Quechua.

    MacLeod and Stoel-Gammon suggest simultaneous French-English bilinguals produce vot with French monolingual-like values, which also carried over into their English vot production. These hypotheses, of course, would not predict the absence of functional morphemes both free and bound in early SLA.

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    However, their proponents attribute this absence to performance factors and insucient exposure to the L2, and claim that learners do show evidence of syntactic properties associated with functional categories, suggesting that these categories are present despite the lack of surface inection see White First, more importance is given to the lexicon, in which each entry contains both meaning components and detailed grammatical specications.

    Functional phrases along with some parameter settings are now stored in the lexicon, as well as inections. In contrast, the model of the Minimalist Program is a bottom-up model, in which items from the lexicon merge to form a phrase structure according to the grammatical specications that are a component of each lexical item. While the inections of functional categories are specied in the lexiconfor example, person, gender, and number for verbsthese formal features must be licensed in order to appear in the output i.

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    For this to happen, these features must be moved to the specier position of the functional head to be checked whether they are compatible with the features associated with the functional node. However, the inectional features associated with functional phrases are also specied. Thus, only strong inectional features are expressed with overt morphology; if the features are weak, there will be no overt inectional morphology. According to Klein and Perdue , the explanation for the lack of grammatical morphology in the Basic Variety is that at this stage of development all features are weak.

    Acquisition past the BV involves the changing of values for feature strength. These views hold that linguistic structures emerge from the communicative functions of language, and that acquiring language is constrained not by an innate language-specic cognitive module, but by general human systems of perception and cognition. Thus, these views are often considered to be under the headings of functionalism or emergentism, rather than nativism.