Jaminjung djd Wals

Variety Both Jaminjung and Ngaliwurru varieties
Family Mirndi
Region Southeast Asia & Australia



Eva Schultze-Berndt

The University of Manchester

How to cite the Jaminjung dataset  BibTeX

Schultze-Berndt, Eva. 2013. Jaminjung Valency Patterns.
In: Hartmann, Iren & Haspelmath, Martin & Taylor, Bradley (eds.) 2013.
Valency Patterns Leipzig.
Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
(Available online at http://valpal.info/languages/jaminjung, Accessed on 2017-07-27)


102 Verb forms 16 Coding frames 17 Alternations (96.2% avail.) 218 glossed Examples


General comment

Jaminjung belongs to the small Jaminjungan (or Western Mirndi) subgroup of the geographically discontinuous Mirndi family, one of the non-Pama-Nyungan families of northern Australia. The name Jaminjung is used here for two named varieties, Jaminjung and Ngaliwurru, which are mutually intelligible and exhibit mainly lexical differences. The traditional country of Jaminjung and Ngaliwurru speakers is located north and south of the Victoria River around the present-day township of Timber Creek in the Northern Territory. Jaminjung is severely endangered in that it is no longer acquired by children; only a few dozen elderly speakers are alive today.

A pervasive feature of Jaminjung lexicon and grammar, which proves to be highly relevant for the discussion of verb classes and alternations, is a division of the “verbal” lexicon into two distinct parts of speech. This is an areal phenomenon found in a number of unrelated languages in Northern Australia.
Inflecting verbs (IVs), i.e. those taking obligatory pronominal prefixes and tense and mood marking, form a closed class with only about 35 members (with some variation depending on the dialect affiliation and also the age of individual speakers).
Uninflecting verbs (UVs; also known as "coverbs" or "preverbs" in the literature) can be distinguished from IVs by the fact that they cannot take verbal inflections. They are also distinguishable from nominals in that they do not co-occur with determiners such as demonstratives. UVs form an open class which can be expanded by loan words.

Predicates in Jaminjung thus can be simple (an IV on its own) or complex (a combination of an IV and one or two UVs). In addition, translation equivalents of verbs can be collocations involving nominals, e.g. expressions with a body part for feelings/pain, or expressions like gugu gardbany 'rain falls' = 'to rain'.

Most valency alternations in Jaminjung are only relevant for complex predicates. A valency change in this type of alternation is achieved by combining the same UV with different IVs resulting e.g. in inchoative vs. causative complex predicates. In this database, they are therefore marked as "UV" preceding the alternation name, and are considered coded alternations even though they are not coded by a dedicated valency-changing morphological marker. Note also that the substitution of different IVs with the same UV can also result in other semantic differences, e.g. in lexical aspect, deictic direction of motion, instrument used for contact, or other more subtle differences. In this database only valency-changing alternations are considered.

Characterization of flagging resources

Jaminjung has a rich system of cases which formally are clitics occurring once or more than once in a phrase. Case marking of core arguments follows an ergative-absolutive pattern, with optional ergativity. As a general rule, the case frame used with a particular predicate, whether simple or complex, follows from the morphological transitivity of the inflecting verb (IV). That is, a single absolutive argument occurs with intransitive IVs, and an ergative-absolutive case frame (or double absolutive if ergative marking is omitted) is used with transitive IVs. Since the absolutive is unmarked, it is not glossed in examples. The ergative has the form -ni ~ -di.

Ergative marking of A arguments is optional in Jaminjung; the presence vs. absence of ergative marking depends on a variety of factors including the semantics of the predicate, animacy and degree of agentivity of A, and lexical and grammatical aspect. Therefore, presence vs. absence of ergative marking was not considered an alternation for the purposes of this database.

Regular double absolutive marking used for both A and P of some bivalent atelic predicates (with intransitive IV), i.e. the ergative is not possible on As in this case.

Double absolutive marking is also used for both NP objects of a semantically trivalent predicate.

Dative case (
-gu ~ -wu) marks addressees or beneficiaries and also has a purposive function; in addition a specialised purposive case (-ngurlung) is used by some speakers, and the possessive case -gina (usually appearing in adnominal function) can have a purposive use as well.
Spatial cases are locative (
-gi ~ -g ~ -ni), allative (-bina) and ablative (-ngunyi / -giyag). Specialised forms of these cases are found on inherently locative expressions. An additional origin case (-nyunga) indicates spatial origin (as in 'the man from England') but also has a causal function.

Characterization of indexing resources

From the point of view of indexing morphology, inflecting verbs (IVs) fall into two non-overlapping classes. Morphologically transitive verbs in their non-reflexive/reciprocal form occur with a set of pronominal prefixes which always index the most agentive argument (A) and in addition the patient-like (P) argument. With ditransitive predicates, R rather than P is usually indexed except for a marginal alternation which is possible only in the case that P is animate.

The order of prefixes is usually A followed by P, although in some cases a portmanteau prefix is used. The 3rd person singular object (P) is not overtly expressed except with a 3rd person singular subject.
In one variety, nonsingular first person P prefixes have been neutralised, i.e. only the first person singular prefix is used, and an enclitic pronominal (identical to the dative form) is used to disambiguate for number and the inclusive/exclusive distinction.

Morphologically intransitive verbs indicate their single argument (S) by a pronominal prefix which in most cells of the paradigm (except 2nd person singular) is identical to the A prefix. Thus, indexing more or less follows a nominative-accusative pattern.
A final indexing phenomenon is the cross-referencing of dative, locative and allative arguments or adjuncts by an enclitic oblique (dative) pronoun. This “clitic doubling” is restricted to animate referents.

Characterization of ordering resources

Word order is purely pragmatically conditioned and not employed to indicate grammatical roles. Noun phrases can be freely omitted if understood from context (zero anaphora).

Source of the data and generalizations/background of the contributor(s)

Data in this database are from both elicited and naturalistic speech recorded during multiple field trips undertaken by the author between 1993 and 2008. Occasional examples also come from field notes and texts recorded by Mark Harvey, Janet Bolt, and Michael Walsh, and Dorothea Hoffmann. Examples from audio- or video-recorded sessions are accompanied by the file name of the audio file as archived (with annotations) in the Jaminjung DoBeS archive (www.mpi.nl/dobes) (rather than a page nr). Examples marked as "field notes" are overheard examples. Examples with no file name information come from transcripts which are not yet linked to archived audio files.

Comments on conventions:
In literal glosses of complex verbs in the "comments" field, the gloss of the inflecting verb (IV) is in capitals.
Since there is no infinitive form of the inflecting verb in Jaminjung and roots are not produced in isolation by speakers, the 3rd singular subject (+ 3rd sg object for tr.verbs) past perfective form of inflecting verbs is provided throughout, as this is one of the most frequent forms.
Borrowings (in verb meanings) and code switches (in examples) from Kriol, the English-lexified Creole language spoken by most Jaminjung speakers, are marked by angular brackets (<...>).