Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper explores how emotions are expressed in the endangered Gunwinyguan language Kunbarlang and compares these expressions to those in the neighbouring Gunwinyguan language Bininj Kunwok, and neighbouring languages from other language families, Mawng (Iwaidjan) and Ndjébbana (Maningridan). As well as considering body-based emotion expressions and the tropes (metaphors and metonymies) they instantiate, we consider the range of other (non-body-based) expressions and tropes available in each language. These provide an important point of comparison with the body-part expressions, which are limited to expressions based on noun incorporation in the Gunwinyguan languages and, correspondingly, a more limited range of tropes. By outlining and comparing the linguistic tropes used to express emotions in these four languages in the highly multilingual yet socioculturally unified context of western Arnhem Land, we aim to shed further light on the relationships between linguistic figurative features and conceptual representations of emotions.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Aung Si
    Aung Si 2019 Flora-fauna loanwords in Arnhem Land and beyond – An ethnobiological approach. Australian Journal of Linguistics39(2). 202–256. 10.1080/07268602.2019.1566888
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07268602.2019.1566888 [Google Scholar]
  2. Baker, Mark
    1996The polysynthesis parameter. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Barwick, Linda
    2011 Musical form and style in Murriny Patha djanba songs at Wadeye (Northern Territory, Australia). InMichael Tenzer & John Roeder (eds.), Analytical and cross-cultural studies in word music, 316–354. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384581.003.0009
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384581.003.0009 [Google Scholar]
  4. Barwick, Linda, Bruce Birch & Nicholas Evans
    2007 Iwaidja jurtbirrk: Bringing language and music together. Australian Aboriginal Studies. 6–34.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Berndt, Ronald
    1951 Ceremonial exchange in western Arnhem Land. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology7(2). 156–176. 10.1086/soutjanth.7.2.3628621
    https://doi.org/10.1086/soutjanth.7.2.3628621 [Google Scholar]
  6. Berndt, Ronald & Catherine Berndt
    1970 Time for relaxation. InStephen A. Wurm & Donald C. Laycock (eds.), Pacific Linguistic Studies in Honour of Arthur Capell, 557–591. Canberra: Linguistic Circle of Canberra.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Bowern, Claire
    2014 Complex predicates in Australian languages. InHarold Koch & Rachel Nordlinger (eds.), The languages and linguistics of Australia: A comprehensive guide, 263–295. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton. 10.1515/9783110279771.263
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110279771.263 [Google Scholar]
  8. Brown, Reuben
    2014 The role of songs in connecting the living and the dead: A funeral ceremony for Nakodjok in western Arnhem Land. InAmanda Harris (ed.), Circulating cultures: Exchanges of Australian Indigenous music, dance and media, 169–201. ANU Press, Canberra. 10.22459/CC.12.2014.07
    https://doi.org/10.22459/CC.12.2014.07 [Google Scholar]
  9. 2016 The role of performance in western Arnhem Land song. PhD thesis, University of Sydney, Sydney.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Brown, Reuben, David Manmurulu, Jenny Manmurulu, Isabel O’Keeffe & Ruth Singer
    2017 Maintaining song traditions and languages together at Warruwi (western Arnhem Land). InJames Wafer & Myfany Turpin (eds.), Recirculating songs: Revitalising the singing practices of Indigenous Australia, 268–286. Canberra: Asia-Pacific Linguistics.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Coleman, Carolyn
    . n.d.Kun-barlang dictionary. Unpublished copy held at theAustralian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sstudies. oai:aseda.aiatsis.gov.au:0284
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Eather, Bronwyn, Jimmy Kalamirnda & Yurrbukka Community
    2005A first dictionary of Na-Kara. Maningrida: Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation, Maningrida Arts and Culture.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Ekman, Paul
    1992 An argument for basic emotions. Cognition and Emotion6(3/4). 169–200. 10.1080/02699939208411068
    https://doi.org/10.1080/02699939208411068 [Google Scholar]
  14. 2011Universal facial expressions. Retrieved from: https://www.paulekman.com/resources/universal-facial-expressions/ (Last accessed28.02.2021).
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Evans, Nicholas
    2003Bininj Gun-Wok: A pan-dialectal grammar of Mayali, Kunwinjku and Kune, 2vols.Pacific linguistics; 541., Pacific Linguistics, Canberra.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. 2004 Experiencer objects in Iwaidjan languages. InPeri Bhaskararao & Karumuri V. Subbarao (eds.), Non-nominative subjects, 169–192. Amersterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tsl.60.10eva
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.60.10eva [Google Scholar]
  17. 2010Dying words: Endangered languages and what they have to tell us. Chichester: Wiley–Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Evans, Nicholas & Rhys Jones
    1997 The cradle of the Pama-Nyungans: Archaeological and linguistic speculations. InPatrick McConvell & Nicholas Evans (eds.), Archaeology and linguistics: Aboriginal Australia in global perspective, 385–417. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Evans, Nicholas & Hans-Jürgen Sasse
    2002 Introduction: problems of polysynthesis. InNicholas Evans & Hans-Jürgen Sasse (eds.), Problems in polysynthesis, 185–201. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter. 10.1524/9783050080956.1
    https://doi.org/10.1524/9783050080956.1 [Google Scholar]
  20. Evans, Nicholas & David Wilkins
    2000 In the mind’s ear: The semantic extensions of perception verbs in Australian languages. Language76(3). 546–592. 10.2307/417135
    https://doi.org/10.2307/417135 [Google Scholar]
  21. Garde, Murray
    . n.d.. Bininj Kunwok pan-dialectal dictionary. Unpublished electronic file.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. 2006 The language of kun-borrk in western Arnhem Land. Musicology Australia (28). 59–89.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. 2008 Kun-dangwok: “clan lects” and Ausbau in western Arnhem Land’, International Journal of the Sociology of Language (191). 141–69. 10.1515/IJSL.2008.027
    https://doi.org/10.1515/IJSL.2008.027 [Google Scholar]
  24. Green, Rebecca
    . n.d.Ndjébbana dictionary. Unpublished electronic file.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. 2003 Proto Maningrida within Proto Arnhem. InNicholas Evans (ed.), The non-Pama-Nyungan languages of northern Australia: Comparative studies of the continent’s most linguistically complex region, 369–421. Canberra: Pacific linguistics.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Harvey, Mark
    2018 Disputation, kinship and land tenure in Western Arnhem Land. InPatrick McConvell, Piers Kelly & Sébastian Lacrampe (eds.), Skin, kin and clan: The dynamics of social categories in Indigenous Australia, 107–136. Canberra: ANU Press. 10.22459/SKC.04.2018.05
    https://doi.org/10.22459/SKC.04.2018.05 [Google Scholar]
  27. Heer, Rolf De & Peter Djigirr
    2006Ten Canoes. Australia: Vertigo Production.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Kapitonov, Ivan
    2019 Aspects of Kunbarlang grammar. PhD thesis, University of Melbourne.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Kövecses, Zoltán
    1995 Anger: Its language, conceptualization and physiology in the light of cross-cultural evidence. InJohn Taylor & Robert E. McLaury (eds.), Language and the cognitive construal of the world, 181–196. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110809305.181
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110809305.181 [Google Scholar]
  30. 2002Metaphor: A practical introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. 2005Metaphor in culture: Universality and variation. New York: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511614408
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511614408 [Google Scholar]
  32. McKay, Graham
    2000NdjébbanainRobert M. W. Dixon & Barry J. Blake (eds.), The Handbook of Australian languages, vol.5, 155–354. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Miceli, Luisa & T. Mark Ellison
    2017 Language monitoring in bilinguals as a mechanism for rapid lexical divergence. Language93(2). 255–287. 10.1353/lan.2017.0014
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2017.0014 [Google Scholar]
  34. Nordlinger, Rachel
    2014 Constituency and grammatic relations in Australian languages. InHarold Koch & Rachel Nordlinger (eds.), The languages and linguistics of Australia: A comprehensive guide, 215–262. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton. 10.1515/9783110279771.215
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110279771.215 [Google Scholar]
  35. Noyce, Philip
    2002Rabbit-Proof Fence. Australia: Jabal Films PtyLtd.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. O’Keeffe, Isabel
    2010Kaddikkaddik ka-wokdjanganj ‘Kaddikkaddik spoke’: Language and music of the Kunbarlang Kaddikkaddik songs from western Arnhem Land. Australian Journal of Linguistics30(1). 35–51. 10.1080/07268600903134012
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07268600903134012 [Google Scholar]
  37. 2016 Multilingual manyardi/kunborrk: Manifestations of multilingualism in the classical song traditions of western Arnhem Land. PhD Thesis, Linguistics. Melbourne: University of Melbourne.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Ponsonnet, Maïa
    2013 The language of emotions in Dalabon (Northern Australia). PhD Thesis, SCHL, Linguistics. Canberra: Australian National University.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. 2014aThe language of emotions: The case of Dalabon (Australia). Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. 2014b Documenting the language of emotions in Dalabon (Northern Australia): Caveats, solutions and benefits. InAicha Belkadi, Kakia Chatsiou & Kirsty Rowan (eds.), Proceedings of Conference on Language Documentation and Linguistic Theory Conference4, 1–13. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. 2014c Figurative and non-figurative use of body-part words in descriptions of emotions in Dalabon. International Journal of Language and Culture1(1). 98–130. 10.1075/ijolc.1.1.06pon
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ijolc.1.1.06pon [Google Scholar]
  42. 2016 Emotion nouns in Australian languages. InPeter K. Austin, Harold Koch & Jane H. Simpson (eds.), Language, land and story in Australia, 228–243. London: EL Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. 2017 Conceptual representations and figurative language in language shift: Metaphors and gestures for emotions in Kriol (Barunga, northern Australia). Cognitive Linguistics28(4). 631–671. 10.1515/cog‑2016‑0020
    https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2016-0020 [Google Scholar]
  44. 2018 Do linguistic properties influence expressive potential? The case of two Australian diminutives (Gunwinyguan family). Anthropological Linguistics60(2). 157–190. 10.1353/anl.2019.0002
    https://doi.org/10.1353/anl.2019.0002 [Google Scholar]
  45. 2020Difference and repetition in language shift to a creole: The expression of emotions. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9780429470158
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429470158 [Google Scholar]
  46. Ponsonnet, Maïa, James Bednall & Isabel O’Keeffe
    2019 The respective roles of culture and grammar in shaping emotion metaphors: The case of the Gunwinyguan family (Australian, non-Pama-Nyungan), International Cognitive Linguistics Conference 15 August 2019, Nishinomya, Japan.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Singer, Ruth
    2006 Agreement in Mawng: Productive and lexicalised uses of agreement in an Australian Language. PhD Thesis, Linguistics. Melbourne: University of Melbourne.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. 2011 Typologising idiomaticity: Noun-verb idioms and their relations. Linguistic Typology, 15(3), 625–659. doi:  10.1515/LITY.2011.037. (Last accessed26.01.2018).
    https://doi.org/10.1515/LITY.2011.037 [Google Scholar]
  49. 2016The dynamics of nominal classification: Productive and lexicalised uses of gender agreement in Mawng. Boston/Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 10.1515/9781614513698
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9781614513698 [Google Scholar]
  50. Singer, Ruth & Salome Harris
    2016 What practices and ideologies support small-scale multilingualism? A case study of Warruwi community, northern Australia. International Journal of the Sociology of Language241. 163–208. 10.1515/ijsl‑2016‑0029
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2016-0029 [Google Scholar]
  51. Singer, Ruth, Nita Garidjalalug, Heather Hewett, Peggy Mirwuma & Phillip Ambidjambidj
    2015Mawng dictionary v1.0. Retrieved from: https://www.mawngngaralk.org.au/mawng-dictionary/ (Last accessed13.02.2021).
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Taylor, Luke
    1987 The same but different: Social reproduction and innovation in the art of the Kunwinjku of western Arnhem Land. PhD thesis, Australian National University.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Teo, Amos
    2007Breaking up is hard to do: Teasing apart morphological complexity in Iwaidja and Maung. Honours thesis, University of Melbourne.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Thomas, Martin
    2015 Because it’s your country: Death and its meanings in West Arnhem Land. Life Writing12(2). 203–223. 10.1080/14484528.2013.853382
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14484528.2013.853382 [Google Scholar]
  55. Walsh, Michael
    1987 The impersonal verb construction in Australian languages. InRoss Steele & Terry Threadgold (eds.), Language topics: Essays in honour of Michael Halliday, 425–438. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error