Yidiny language

Yidiny language

language
name=Yidiny
familycolor=Australian
states=Australia
region=Queensland
speakers=12 (1981)
fam2=Pama-Nyungan
fam3=Yidinic
iso2=aus|iso3=yii

Yidiny (also spelled Yidinj, unicode|Yidiɲ, unicode|Yidinʸ) is a nearly extinct Australian Aboriginal language, spoken by the Yidindji tribe of northern Queensland.

ounds

Vowels

Consonants

Grammar

The Yidiny language has a number of particles that change the meaning of an entire clause. These, unlike other forms in the language, such as nouns, verbs and gender markers, have no grammatical case and take no tense inflections.The particles in the Yidiny language: "nguju" - 'not' ("nguju" also functions as the negative interjection 'no'), "giyi" - 'don't', "biri" - 'done again', "yurrga" - 'still', "mugu" - 'couldn't help it' ("mugu" refers to something unsatisfactory but that is impossible to avoid doing), "jaymbi" / "jaybar" - 'in turn'. E.g. 'I hit him and he "jaymbi" hit me', 'He hit me and I "jaybar" hit him'.

Affixes

In common with several other Australian Aboriginal languages, Yidiny is an agglutinative ergative-absolutive language. There are many affixes which indicate a number of different grammatical concepts, such as the agent of an action (shown by "-nggu"), the ablative case (shown by "-mu" or "-m"), the past tense (shown by "-nyu") and the present and future tenses (both represented with the affix "-ng").There are also two affixes which lengthen the last vowel of the verbal root to which they are added, "-Vli-" and "-Vlda" (the capital letter 'V' indicates the lengthened final vowel of the verbal root). For example: "magi-" 'climb up' + "ili" + "-nyu" 'past tense affix' (giving "magiilinyu"), "magi-" 'climb up' + "ilda" + "-nyu" 'past tense affix' (giving "magiildanyu"). The affix "-Vli-" means 'do while going' and the affix "-Vlda-" means 'do while coming'. It is for this reason that they cannot be added to the verbs "gali-" 'go' or "gada-" 'come'. Therefore, the word "magiilinyu" means 'went up, climbing' and "magiildanyu" means 'came up, climbing'.

Affixes and number of syllables

There is a general preference in Yidiny that as many words as possible should have an even number of syllables. It is for this reason that the affixes differ according to the word to which they are added. For example: the past tense affix is "-nyu" when the verbal root has three syllables, producing a word that has four syllables: "majinda-" 'walk up' becomes "majindanyu" in the past tense, whereas with a disyllabic root the final vowel is lengthened and "-Vny" is added: "gali-" 'go' becomes "galiiny" in the past tense, thus producing a word that has two syllables. The same prinicple applies when forming the genitive: "waguja-" + "-ni" = "wagujani" 'man's' (four syllables), "bunya-" + "-Vn-" = "bunyaan" 'woman's'.The preference for an even number of syllables is retained in the affix that shows a relative clause: "-nyunda" is used with a verb that has two or four syllables ("gali-" (two syllables) 'go' + "nyunda" = "galinyunda"), giving a word that has four syllables whereas a word that has three or five syllables takes "-nyuun" ("majinda-" (three syllables) 'walk up' + "nyuun" = "majindanyuun"), giving a word that has four syllables. [R.M.W. Dixon, Searching for Aboriginal Languages, pages 247-251, University of Chicago Press, 1989]

References

Further reading

*R.M.W. Dixon. (1977). "A Grammar of Yidiny". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
*R.M.W. Dixon. (1984, 1989). "Searching for Aboriginal Languages". University of Chicago Press.

External links

* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=yii Ethnologue]
* [http://www.rosettaproject.org/archive/australian/oceania/yii/view?searchterm=Yidiny The Rosetta Project]


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