The Nyulnyulan use Bardi language in their communication and other social aspects of their life. The Birdi language is an Australian northernmost language that is mainly used by this family, which is none-Pama. The non-Pama-Nyungan family lives in Kimberly, the western region of Australia. The language is considered as diminishing since its being absorbed by other languages within the region. It is claimed that only five individuals in the entire community can speak the language fluently among all people who identify as the Bardi community (Bowern, McDonough and Kelliher, 334). The Bardi community is approximated to consist of about one thousand people.
The Bardi community and language is said to have been influenced by the European missionaries. This happened in the 1930s when people from the community were moved to other regions dominated by the European languages and indigenous language speaking communities. This is how the Bardi community started to deteriorate in social value and significance in Australia (Bowern, McDonough and Kelliher, 334). The issue of first language acquisition within the Bardi people almost died making it difficult for even the Bardi people to speak their mother tongue fluently. The popularity of the Bardi community and language is therefore said to be dying out given that only five people can speak the Bardi language effortlessly.
The Bardi and Jawi are intelligible language varieties related to the Bardi language. They have very much influenced the existence of the Bardi language. The influence of the Bardi by these two languages has made it difficult to know the scope of dialect variety within the language. There is evidence of collected information in a study to know more about the Bardi community and language (Bowern, McDonough and Kelliher, 341). The study involved the collection of data through the recording of word lists alongside elicitation. This was being done to bring out the language dialect and the aspect of fluency or alteration among various speakers conducted. There is no formal speaker to the language but those conducted were perfect for the study.
Aspects of the study included the structure of syllables alongside word structures. In this case, it was found that Bardi language has great inflectional morphology. This was found to be intensive in verbs, found to take suffixes, prefixes, as well as additional clitics. This was against nouns and pronouns or even adjectives that are inflected mainly for the case. Nouns were found to take possession makers. This was by either a prefix or a suffix. An investigation of consonants indicated that the Bardi language has seventeen consonants. Among these seventeen consonants, twelve of them are sonorants and five obstruents that act as stops (Bowern, McDonough and Kelliher, 343). There were no fricatives found with the language as far as consonants are concerned. There are hardly contrasting stops within the language. Stops were found to be voiceless and less noticeable. Another aspect of the study was plosives within the diminishing language. Plosives involve stop contrasts occurring at about five places of the language articulation. Plosives are part of the consonants but were considered exclusive since voicing is hardly contrastive in the stops.
Lenition was another item of study and it was found to include two processes in the Bardi language. The two lenition processes were synchronic and historical. The synchronic process is associated with leniting the stops that are phonemically voiceless to sonorous reflexes. On the other hand, the historical lenition is associated with sound change resulting to morphological alteration. Other aspects included retroflection, sonorants, vowels, prosodic features, and transcription of connected speech (Bowern, McDonough and Kelliher, 346). All these have completely changed among the majority of the Bardi people due to influence by other communities and languages. Most of the Bardi people can hardly speak their native language apart from five people. Given that, these five people pass on, the Bardi language and culture die out completely in the next few years.
Claire Bowern, Joyce McDonough and Katherine Kelliher. “Bardi.” Journal of the International Phonetic Association, Vol. 42, Is. No. 3 (2012): 333-351 doi:10.1017/S0025100312000217.
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