The term Bininj Gun-wok was recently coined to cover a large group of related dialects spoken in Western Arnhem Land, Australia, including Kunwinjku, Mayali, Gun-djeihmi, Kune, and others; many of these dialects have not been described before. Bininj Gun-wok, in turn, belongs to the so-called Gunwinjguan family, the largest family of non-Pama-Nyungan languages. It is one of the few Australian languages still being passed on to children, and in fact the number of speakers is increasing.
This detailed pan-dialectal grammar takes care to set the language in its cultural context throughout, with rich ethnographic discussion of the many special kinship-based speech registers and a sizeable text collection with examples of all major dialects. Bininj Gun-wok is a heavily polysynthetic language, with three productive types of noun incorporation, incorporation of one verb into another, two applicatives, reflexive/reciprocal formation, prefixes representing subject and object/indirect object, and a large number of further adverbial-type prefixes. Within the nominal system, it has four genders in some dialects, reducing to simpler systems in others. A major focus of the grammar is the many problems of how meanings are constructed in a polysynthetic language, and how the many elements of the verbal morphology interact with one another in the composition of grammatical structure.
This volume will be of interest to a wide range of readers: morphologists and syntacticians, Australianists, linguistic anthropologists, dialectologists, typologists, and educationists and others working in Western Arnhem Land.