Innovations and neutralizations in the Warlpiri pronominal system Academic Article uri icon


  • The paradigm functions as a domain for certain processes of change. There can be changes in the number of grammatical categories or in the forms used to represent them. Thus, Benveniste (1968) contrasts change involving only the forms while the system remains the same (‘conservative’ change) with innovations in which there is change in the categories and the oppositions. In this paper, we will discuss both types of change in the Warlpiri pronominal system. Warlpiri is an Aboriginal language spoken in central Australia by about 3000 people. Our research has been carried out at Yuendumu, a remote community 300 km northwest of Alice Springs. While the majority of people in the community (about 750) have Warlpiri as their mother tongue, there are also about 65 non-Aboriginal people who speak English, and a few speakers of other Aboriginal languages closely related to Warlpiri. Although there is limited exposure to English, Warlpiri is the community language at Yuendumu.

publication date

  • March 1987