New language being born in Australia

I heard this on NPR, but it’s been doing the rounds lately – as all happy news should. Rather than mourning the death of yet another language, linguists are now celebrating the birth of an entirely new one, among the kids of Lajamanu, Australia:

…[T]he people of Lajamanu have been “code switching” between English and creole for many years. But on visits there, she noted that the younger people had gone further to create a new “Light Warlpiri” with a structure of its own.

[University of Michigan linguist Carmel O’Shannessy] theorizes that the language grew in the 1970s and ’80s when many of the adults “were speaking to young children [and] using a lot of English and creole verbs.” The children, who spent a lot of time with each other, “conventionalized a system” that became their own language. And now, “those children have grown up and they’re young adults” who are teaching Light Warlpiri to their offspring.

O’Shannessy’s made a video of a girl telling a scary story in Light Walpiri:

One of the things with the language is that nouns tend to be in old Walpiri, but action verbs are usually English, or based on English.

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