Talk:Dyirbal language

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I couldn't remember that Dyirbal was tonal - can we have some more information on this aspect please? — Hippietrail 15:55, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Not Tonal[edit]

R.M.W. Dixon's _The Dyirbal Language of North Queensland_ makes no mention at all of tonality in Dyirbal. Stress is systematically added and dropped, however, and I am working on an update to include this.

  • I have removed the claim that the language is tonal. Anatole V. Lyovin's An Introduction to the Languages of the World says of Dyirbal: "Stress is generally placed on the first syllable of a word and all subsequent odd-numbered syllables except the last. There are several complications with stress, but they are not dealt with here." I have also mentioned this in the phonology section. — Ливай | 23:53, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)


More information?[edit]

My knowledge of this language is fairly extensive and I'd be willing to write about any topic in which people are interested. I'm thinking about preparing some examples demonstrating the syntactic ergativity of Dyirbal already, so I'm looking for other aspects of the language to clarify.

  • I believe Dyirbal examples were used extensively in Van Valin's Role and Reference Grammar (to basically blow holes in Chomsky's Transformational Grammar)... From what I remember, Dyirbal adjectives and determiners can be syntactically seperated from their head noun (while retaining morphological markers), which transformational grammars can't easily accomodate.... maybe add some examples of this? Exit 17:46, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
Hey man: to the guy above who has extensive knowledge of the language, I am interested in knowing MUCH more about Dyirbal than what we have here. If you read this, I'd encourage you to pour your heart and all your knowledge into this article. I would say to you, give a fairly in depth overview of every aspect of the language. One of my favorite language articles in Wikipedia is the one on the Ubykh language. It's very in-depth and informative and gives tons of examples of many of Ubykh's most interesting features. As far as I'm concerned, you don't need an invitation to knock yourself writing about this language. I'd encourage you to do so. I couldn't tell you what aspects to focus on because I know nothing about Dyirbal, and not much about langauges in general. And I think given that Dyirbal has 5 speakers and is probably at death's door, all the more reason to give this langauge it's swan song, it's last hurrah--the honor it deserves. I say to you, make this into a feature article or die trying. --Colin.65.102.39.98 23:40, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

Noun classes[edit]

Some linguists distinguish between such systems of classification and the gendered division of items into the categories of "feminine", "masculine" and (sometimes) "neuter" that is found in, for example, many Indo-European languages.

Someone needs to elaborate on exactly what "such systems" are, because I don't see the difference. --Ptcamn 20:56, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

The difference is that Indo-European, Afro-Asiatic, etc. languages typically have systems of only two genders, or of two genders plus genderless/neuter (the latter sometimes being considered a system of three genders); when there are more than three noun classes, or when there's no clear masculine noun class and clear feminine noun class, the term gender is sometimes avoided. Ruakh 02:22, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Non-synonymous clarification[edit]

In the last paragraph of the grammar section, it says, "Sentences with a first or second person pronoun have their verb arguments marked for case in a pattern that mimics nominative-accusative languages. That is, the first or second person pronoun appears in the least marked case when it is the subject (regardless of the transitivity of the verb), and in the most marked case when it is the direct object." The problem is, these two sentences, despite the "that is" that leads off the second, are not synonymous. For example, in translating "I see him", the first sentence suggests that "I" and "him" should be in different cases ("I" in the less-marked nominative case, "him" in the more-marked accusative one), but the second one suggests that they should be in the same case ("I" in the less-marked nominative case, "him" in the less-marked absolutive case). Which sentence is correct? Ruakh 02:22, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Orthography vs. phonology?[edit]

"Standard orthography uses voiced consonants, which seem to be preferred by speakers of most Australian languages since the sounds (which can often be semi-voiced) are closer to English semi-voiced b, d, g than aspirated p, t, k."

Could someone cite this? I was told that Dyirbal is noted for having only voiced stops, which is particularly interesting, because when languages don't distinguish voicing, they are most likely to have voiceless stops. Is this orthographic convention really preferred, or is the writer just assuming so from a background of speaking English? --Ryan 18:39, 19 December 2006 (UTC)