Dalabon

Dalabon belongs to the Gunwinyguan family (among the non-Pama-Nyungan Australian languages), and like all the languages in this family, it is highly polysynthetic and agglutinative. Dalabon speakers live in the communities of Weemol, Bulman, Beswick/Wugularr and Barunga, located in south-western dalabon_captionArnhem Land, to the east of the town of Katherine, in the Northern Territory (Australia).

Dalabon is severely endangered. It is difficult to evaluate the number of speakers, because some passive speakers remain silent for cultural/interactional reasons. There are probably fewer than a dozen fluent speakers, with diverse levels of mastery. Dalabon is no longer a language of significant interactions on a day-to-day basis. Even when two relatively fluent Dalabon speakers talk together, they normally use Kriol. However, Dalabon is still used occasionally in some households, for instance when addressing requests.

While speakers of Dalabon are few, several of them are highly motivated to document their language. Some have collaborated with linguists for a long time, and are very willing to continue to do so. One of them, Maggie Tukumba, is the coauthor of a dictionary (Evans et al. 2004). While there exists no grammar of Dalabon, a number of articles have been published. I have been involved with the Dalabon community since 1998, through language projects and other activities, and focused on Dalabon for my PhD Dissertation.

Some literature on Dalabon
Bordluk, Daisy, Nikipini Dalak, Maggie Tukumba, Lily Bennett, Rita Tingey Bordro, Margaret Katherine, Sarah Cutfield, Manuel Pamkal & Glenn Wightman. 2013. Dalabon plants and animals. Aboriginal biocultural knowledge from southern Arnhem Land, north Australia. Darwin: Centre for Indigenous natural and cultural resource management, Northern Territory University and Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory.

Cutfield, Sarah. 2011. Demonstratives in Dalabon. A language of south-western Arnhem Land. PhD Dissertation. Melbourne: Monash University.
Evans, Nicholas. 2007. Standing up your mind. In Mengistu Amberber (ed.), The language of memory in a cross-linguistic perspective, 67–95. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Evans, Nicholas, Dunstan Brown & Greville Corbett. 2001. Dalabon pronominal prefixes and the typology of syncretism: A network morphology analysis. In Booij Geert & Jaap Van Marle (eds.), Yearbook of morphology 2000, 103–172. Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Evans, Nicholas & Francesca Merlan. 2003. Dalabon verb conjugation. In Nicholas Evans (ed.), The non-Pama-Nyungan Languages of Northern Australia: Comparative studies of the continent’s most linguistically complex region, vol. 552, 268–283. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
Evans, Nicholas, Francesca Merlan & Maggie Tukumba. 2004. A First Dictionary of Dalabon. Maningrida: Maningrida Arts and Culture, Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation.

Ponsonnet, Maïa. 2014a. Dalabon emotion glossary (second draft, June 2014).
Ponsonnet, Maïa. 2014b. The language of emotions: The case of Dalabon (Australia). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Ross, Belinda Britt. 2011. Prosody and grammar in Dalabon and Kayardild. PhD Dissertation. Merlbourne: The University of Melbourne.