The expression of possession in Wumpurrorni English, Tennant Creek

2017-06-02T02:12:53Z (GMT) by Disbray, Samantha Simpson, Jane
We discuss the expression of possession in Wumpurrami English (WE), a variety spoken in the Tennant Creek area of the Northern Territory. We illustrate this from a data-set of 319 utterances containing possessive constructions (drawn from 14 video-recordings of conversations between care-givers and children). We show how the WE constructions relate to those of the source languages, Warumungu, Standard Australian English (SAE), and the Creole that developed in northern Australia late in the nineteenth century. The interaction between these sources in the development of WE is complex. Three notable features are examined: the use of a possessor clitic whose form is taken from Warumungu, but whose syntactic behaviour is taken from the SAE Genitive clitic, the use of a post-nominal possessor as in Warumungu, and the extension of the possessor clitic to the possession of inalienable things such as body-parts. A body-part possessor construction appears with a wider range of verbs than in standard Australian English, but narrower than that in traditional Warumungu. We show the wide variation in the use of possessive constructions, and suggest that relevant factors are the speaker's age, code-switching, and the context of use.