Fission, fusion and syncretism: linguistic and environmental changes amongst the Tangkic people of the southern Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia

Memmott, Paul, Round, Erich, Rosendahl, Daniel, and Ulm, Sean (2016) Fission, fusion and syncretism: linguistic and environmental changes amongst the Tangkic people of the southern Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia. In: Verstraete, Jean-Christophe, and Hafner, Diane, (eds.) Land and Language in Cape York Peninsula and the Gulf Country. Culture and Language Use, 18 (18). John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, pp. 105-136.

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Abstract

A revised model of Tangkic linguistic and cultural history is developed based on a reanalysis of relationships between six Tangkic languages in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria and drawing on recent archaeological and environmental studies. Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of Tangkic basic vocabulary was employed to infer the topology of the Tangkic family tree and define structural branching events. Contrary to previous models suggesting progressive colonisation and fissioning from mainland sources, the data support hypotheses that the modern configuration of Tangkic owes its form to pulses of outward movement from Mornington Island followed by subsequent linguistic divergence in both grammar and lexicon of the varieties. We also speculate that an extreme environmental event (c.800–400 BP) may have flooded low-lying coastal areas resulting in abandonment of some areas, a relatively short co-residence involving cultural and linguistic syncretism between neighbouring groups and then recolonization.

Item ID: 41298
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-90-272-4454-3
ISSN: 1879-5838
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Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE)
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery Project Number DP120103179, ARC Discovery Project Number DP0663047, AINSE AINGRA09025, AINSE AINGRA09031, ARC Future Fellowship project number FT120100656
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2015 01:56
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160103 Linguistic Anthropology @ 40%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology @ 60%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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