An introduction to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait languages that explains their distinctive features accessibly for readers who have no previous experience with learning another language, and shows how language reflects traditional culture.
When Captain Cook landed at Botany Bay, about 250 distinct languages were spoken across the continent. Yet Australian Aboriginal languages actually share many common features.
Bob Dixon has been working with elders to research Australian languages for half a century, and he draws on this deep experience to outline the common features. He provides a straightforward introduction to the sounds, word building, and wide-ranging vocabulary of Aboriginal languages, and highlights distinctive grammatical features. He explains how language is related to culture, including kinship relationships, gender systems, and naming conventions.
With examples from over 30 languages and anecdotes illustrating language use, and avoiding technical terms, Australia's Original Languages is the indispensable starting point for anyone interested in learning about the original languages of Australia.
About the Author
R. M. W. Dixon is a Professor of Linguistics at James Cook University and Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He has been conducting immersion fieldwork since 1963 and is author of The Languages of Australia, co-author of Australian Aboriginal Words in English, and author of grammars and dictionaries for five Aboriginal languages.