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Light Warlpiri

Light Warlpiri
RegionNorthern Territory, Australia
Native speakers
350 (2013)[1]
mixed KriolWarlpiri
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Light Warlpiri is a mixed language of Australia, with indigenous Warlpiri, Kriol, and Standard Australian English as its parent languages. First documented by linguist Carmel O'Shannessy of the University of Michigan, it is spoken in the Warlpiri community of Lajamanu, mostly by people under the age of 40. As of 2013, there were 350 native speakers of Light Warlpiri, although all of the speakers also knew traditional Warlpiri and many speak Kriol and English.[1]


Like other mixed languages, such as Gurindji Kriol, Michif and Medny Aleut, Light Warlpiri takes its nominal and verbal systems from different source languages. Most nouns are from Warlpiri or English, and take Warlpiri case-marking; but, most verbs and the verbal inflection/auxiliary structure is both borrowed and significantly reanalyzed from Kriol and Australian Aboriginal English.


Light Warlpiri appears to have originated in the 1980s as a codification and expansion of the Warlpiri/Kriol/English code-switching patterns used in speech directed to young children. The children processed the input they heard as a single system,[3] and added innovations in the verb complex.[4] Within the community, it is perceived as a variety of Warlpiri.[5]

See also


  1. ^ a b Bakalar, Nicholas (14 July 2013). "Linguist Finds a Language in Its Infancy". New York Times. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Light Warlpiri". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ O'Shannessy, Carmel (22 March 2012). "The role of codeswitched input to children in the origin of a new mixed language". Linguistics. 50 (2). doi:10.1515/ling-2012-0011. ISSN 1613-396X.
  4. ^ O'Shannessy, Carmel (18 June 2013). "The role of multiple sources in the formation of an innovative auxiliary category in Light Warlpiri, a new Australian mixed language". Language. 89 (2): 328–353. doi:10.1353/lan.2013.0025. ISSN 1535-0665.
  5. ^ Jill Reilly,"World's newest language discovered in remote Australian town (but only 350 people speak it and they're all under 35)"[1], DailyMail,12:15 GMT, 15 July 2013.