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The language of Norfolk Island

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posted on 2022-03-28, 20:39 authored by Shirley Harrison
The subject of this thesis is Broad Norfolk, which refers to that variety of speech used for communication between Norfolk Islanders in informal social situations. Previous research on the language has been mainly limited to lexical observations. This study covers a considerably wider area of investigation, viz. description of the phonology and grammatical structure of Norfolk and an assessment of the historical affiliations of its main features. ... The analysis of Norfolk phonology is based on impressionistic evidence, with support from an acoustic study of vocalic nuclei. The statistical values of stressed vowels are compared with those of Cultivated Australian. The quality of weakly stressed vowels and Norfolk consonants is also considered. Study of prosodic phenomena, such as syllabication, stress and reduplication habits is restricted to what was required by the description of Norfolk vowels. ... Definition of the Word Classes of Norfolk precedes the formal description of its grammar. Since Norfolk expresses its grammatical relationships by syntax rather than morphology, the determination of Word Classes reveals the basic level of its grammar. This section also permits comment on important idiomatic features of the language. In the formal treatment of structures, Independent and Dependent Clauses, Phrases and Word level constructions are described according to tagmemic procedures. The historical section of the thesis begins with a linguistic history of Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands; it estimates which individuals, attitudes and events most influenced the character of their languages. This chapter discusses such related subjects as the reason for Pitcairnese and Norfolk remaining so stable throughout their history, the probable circumstances under which Pitcairnese developed, and the relationship between Norfolk and creole languages. ... Historical connections are then shown more precisely through description of the development of English and Tahitian vowels and consonants in Norfolk, and through relation of English dialects, Tahitian and creole languages to the structural features of Norfolk. ... The Glossary serves as as illustration and extension of the sections preceding it. It contains all Norfolk vocabulary forms and meanings which are known to the author but which do not exist in Standard English; etymological comment is included for most items. Part of the function of the Glossary is to show, in summary, those forms which are local innovations and those which have been preserved from eighteenth century British dialects and Ancient Tahitian.



Bibliography: leaves 353-358

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis masters research


Thesis (MA (Hons)), Macquarie University, School of English Studies

Department, Centre or School

School of English Studies

Year of Award



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