The language of Central Australian Aboriginal songs

Koch, Grace and Turpin, Myfany (2008). The language of Central Australian Aboriginal songs. In Claire Bowern, Bethwyn Evans and Miceli Luisa (Ed.), Morphology and Language History: In honour of Harold Koch (pp. 167-183) Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing.

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Author Koch, Grace
Turpin, Myfany
Title of chapter The language of Central Australian Aboriginal songs
Title of book Morphology and Language History: In honour of Harold Koch
Place of Publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher John Benjamins Publishing
Publication Year 2008
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
Open Access Status
Series Amsterdam studies in the theory and history of linguistic science. Series IV: Current Issues in Linguistics Theory
ISBN 9789027248145
ISSN 0304-0763
Editor Claire Bowern
Bethwyn Evans
Miceli Luisa
Volume number 298
Chapter number 12
Start page 167
End page 183
Total pages 17
Total chapters 25
Collection year 2009
Language eng
Subjects B1
190401 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Performing Arts
200319 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages
200501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature
950105 The Performing Arts (incl. Theatre and Dance)
950203 Languages and Literature
Formatted Abstract/Summary
The language of Central Australian Aboriginal songs differs markedly from everyday speech. Early research on Aboriginal song texts suggested that the differences between speech and song were insurmountable. In 1886 F.J. Gillen, the postmaster at Alice Springs who was familiar with the Arrernte language, stated:

‘What about the words’ etc, I have never yet been able to find out the meaning of any of their Arunta chants and I am doubtful whether they use words in their Altherta [Itharte ?ceremony?]. (Mulvaney et al. 1997:130).

Difficulties in translating songs has sometimes been put down to their archaic nature (Strehlow 1947:xx). More recent research shows that interpretations of songs do relate to the identifiable words in song texts. We suggest that the multi-dialectal nature of song, the presence of metrical requirements which force phonological alteration of words, as well as the methods of song transmission and interpretation, mean that caution should be taken before assigning the category of ‘archaic form’ to unfamiliar words in song. One way to ascertain whether a form in song is archaic, is to see how it accords with Harold Koch's meticulous reconstruction of proto Arandic.

In this chapter we draw primarily upon examples of women’s songs from Kaytetye (K) of the Artuya subgroup, and Arrernte (Arr), which along with Anmatyerr (An), Alyawarr (Aly) make up the Urtwa subgroup.
© 2008 - John Benjamins B.V.
Q-Index Code B1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

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Created: Mon, 13 Apr 2009, 10:18:56 EST by Vicky McNicol on behalf of School of Communication and Arts