University of Bielefeld, SOAS London,
University of Manchester, University of Queensland
This project will conduct two case studies, based largely on existing audio-visual corpora of four endangered languages, in order to test existing claims about the likelihood of prosodic patterns, discourse-structuring devices, and syntactic structures associated with information structure (i.e. subtypes of focus and topic, and degrees of givenness), to diffuse across language boundaries. The languages in each pair have come into contact through geographical contiguity, but are from different language families: Jaminjung/Ngaliwurru (W. Mindi, “Non-Pama-Nyungan”) and Ngarinyman/Bilinarra (Ngumpin, Pama-Yungan), both spoken in the North of Australia, and Savosavo (unclassified, “Papuan”) and Gela (Oceanic, Austronesian), both spoken in the Central Solomon Islands. The project also aims to further develop a recent model of intonation (Parallel Encoding and Target Approximation, PENTA), which will be used to establish the prosodic correlates of information structure. The interaction of prosody, word order and morphological devices to mark categories of information structure will be described for each language, and compared across language pairs.