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date: 11 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the complex inflectional system of Murrinh-Patha, a polysynthetic language of northern Australia, spoken by approximately 2500 people and still being acquired by children. Murrinh-Patha poses a number of interesting challenges for our understanding of inflectional morphology cross-linguistically, especially within the verbal domain. Although its verbal morphology is largely agglutinating, it is templatic and is rife with discontinuous dependencies, multiple exponence, and the interspersal of inflectional and derivational material. In addition, the verbal word is a complex predicate, built on a discontinuous stem, one part of which (the ‘classifier stem’) is taken from one of thirty eight largely fusional sub-paradigms exhibiting high degrees of suppletion, homophony, and irregularity. Furthermore, some of this verbal inflectional material is co-opted into the nominal system to derive nominal predicates raising interesting questions for the distinction between inflection and derivational morphology.

Keywords: Australian language, polysynthetic, template, complex predicate, multiple exponence, discontinuous dependencies

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