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Saturday, July 20, 2013

A new language ~ “Light Warlpir”… is born in Lajamanu, Australia

To a casual Q – which languages do you know…. pat came the reply : Basic, Cobol, C, C++, Java, Pascal, Python……… and to the Q – what is your mother tongue – ‘lengthy’……. !!!!!!!  ~ ‘mozhi’ in Tamil means language…. **

There are languages which have gone out of vogue as none speak them… some are feared that sooner they would cease to exist….. The communication amongst humans is through language – a complex system of communication. There are thousands of languages – not all are written as some are only spoken.  Our Nation has hundreds of languages with Hindi in Devanagari script  being the principal official language.  Indian languages belong to several linguistic families – Dravidian being an important one.   The Dravidian family includes 85 languages approx and is spoken by millions of people, predominantly in Southern India and parts of Sri Lanka and some other countries.  Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, Kannada are the prominent ones.  The antiquity of the language is studied through epigraphs which is study of inscriptions on stones and on others forms dating back to centuries.

Tamil is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and the first Indian language to be declared as a classical language by Govt in 2004.  We proudly claim that Tamil literature is existent for over 2000 years with the earliest epigraphic records found on rock edicts.  The earliest period – Sangam literature is dated from 300  BCE. 

Here is something read in Daily Mail of the World's newest language discovered in remote Australian town (but only 350 people speak it and they're all under 35) ~ it is  “Light Warlpir”… used in Lajamanu, a tiny desert community in Australia…. It is stated that this language would have emerged by 1970s. 

The language, now known as Light Warlpir, is used in Lajamanu, a tiny desert community located half-way between Darwin and Alice Springs, on the edge of the Tanami Desert. The isolated village has a population of about 700 and is populated mostly by the descendants of Aborigines forcibly resettled by the Australian government. All residents speak traditional 'strong' Warlpiri and some speak Kriol, an English-based creole developed in the late 19th century, reported Australia's Daily Telegraph. Only about 350 young locals speak the Light Warlpir - and none of them are over 35.

Carmel O'Shannessy, a professor in the department of linguistics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor documented the discovery of Light Warlpiri in a study published online in the journal Language reported LiveScience. O'Shannessy first discovered the language when she began working in a school in the Northern Territory where traditional Warlpiri was being taught to children. She noticed that some of the students appeared to switch between several languages in conversation. 'After a while, I realised this switching took place in every sentence, and I decided to investigate it," O'Shannessy said.  'Once I recorded children speaking, I looked at the patterns and I could see that there were very striking systematic patterns. It was then that I realised this was a system of its own,' she told the website.

'The striking thing about Light Warlpiri is that most of the verbs come from English or Kriol, but most of the other grammatical elements in the sentence come from Warlpiri,' O'Shannessy told the website. In the Warlpiri language words can be placed in any order, and grammatical interpretations are based on suffixes that are attached to the nouns. Another interesting facet is a word form that refers to both the present and past time, but not the future.

According to O'Shannessy it is likely Light Warlpiri emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. She believes it was when children went from switching between English, Kriol and Warlpiri to speaking the mixed Light Warlpiri language on a primary basis. The news, which has excited linguists across the world is not the first time the tiny town has hit the headlines. In 2010, residents were left speechless after fish began falling from the sky. Hundreds of spangled perch bombarded residents of Lajamanu, shocking local Christine Balmer, who was walking home when the strange 'weather' started. She said: 'These fish fell in their hundreds and hundreds all over the place. The locals were running around everywhere picking them up. Meterologists say the incident was probably caused by a tornado. It is common for tornados to suck up water and fish from rivers and drop them hundreds of miles away.

So on a land where once it rained fish, now there is a new language… some languages are feared to be dying, here is one born anew..

Tailpiece ** : Mozhi (Tamil: மொழி) is a 2007 Tamil film produced by Prakash Raj and directed by Radha Mohan. Jyothika portrayed the leading character in this movie along with Prithviraj , Prakash Raj and Swarnamalya in pivotal roles. The producers had tied up with optical disc maker Moser Baer for the release of video.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th July 2013.
PS: the text in blue majorly reproduced from


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