In 1972 when R. M. W. Dixon’s classic grammar, The Dyirbal Language of
North Queensland, was published, under thirty speakers of the ‘traditional’
language remained. Now only some of their children and grandchildren use
the language; these younger people speak a simplified version. In this
impressive empirical survey, Annette Schmidt analyses the changes that have
taken place in the Dyirbal spoken by that last generation of its speakers
at the levels of phonology, morphology, syntax, the lexicon and semantics.
She also provides a detailed account of the socio-linguistic setting of the
community and the attitudes towards Dyirbal among younger speakers, their
elders and English speakers.