Carmel O'Shannessy

LSA 216: Linguistic effects of language attrition and shift

Carmel O'Shannessy is interested in the complex linguistic situations in Indigenous communities in northern Australia. In these communities issues of language contact, variation, change, shift, acquisition and attrition intersect. Carmel has lived and worked for many years in northern Australia, for many of them in the context of bilingual education involving English and Warlpiri (a Pama-Nyungan language). She is currently documenting the emergence of a new Mixed Language, Light Warlpiri, which systematically combines elements of Warlpiri and varieties of English and Kriol (an English-lexified creole). She is also following changes in Warlpiri which are probably contact-induced, specifically changes in word order and use of ergative case-marking. She also documents aspects of how children in one community learn their home languages, Warlpiri and Light Warlpiri (the newly emerged mixed language). The question is especially interesting because the two languages have overlapping grammatical and lexical features, but some of the features, for example, ergative case-marking, have different distributions in each language. Carmel completed her Ph.D. at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands and the University of Sydney, Australia, and joined the Linguistics Department of the University of Michigan in 2007.

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