kata tjuta
Original Published Date: 
Monday, August 16, 2021

Full article issued by Flinders University.

Professor Marija Tabain, from La Trobe University, is an ARC Future Fellow who has contributed to our understanding of Australia's Indigenous languages through research conducted over many years into the articulatory and acoustic phonetics of several different Central Australian languages.

'Our study of consonant articulation among 21 speakers of these three neighbouring Central Australian languages highlights the unique use of language and subtle differences between the users,' says Professor Tabain.

'Literacy plays a major role in maintenance of marginal phonemic contrast,' the researchers conclude.

Gavan Breen OAM from the Institute for Aboriginal Development in Alice Springs, and Professor Richard Beare from Monash University, were also involved in the study, engaging with several members of Arrernte, Pitjantjatjara and Warlpiri communities in the Northern Territory and northern South Australia.

'This ongoing research is increasingly confirming the uniqueness of Aboriginal languages, particularly as regards their sound systems and range of articulations,' says Professor Butcher, who is also an expert in articulation and communication disorders.

He says the development of Indigenous Australian languages – among the oldest surviving languages on the planet – may also help inform contemporary studies and 'tell us more about human languages in general'.

Photo credit: 

Image: Kata Tjuta (Public Domain).