Language is remarkable. Today, there are over six thousand known languages spoken throughout the world. In the remote territories of northern Australia, natives of the small village of Lajamanu have even invented their own language.
In Lajamanu, researchers have observed that only people under the age of 35 speak Warlpiri rampaku, or Light Warlpiri. Natives over that age just speak Warlpiri, or Strong Warlpiri. Light Warlpiri is unique because it is neither a dialect nor a variation of another language. Rather, it is an entirely new language with its own set of grammatical rules, inspired by a combination of Warlpiri, English, and Kriol, an English-based Creole language.
“These young people have developed something entirely new. Light Warlpiri is clearly a mother tongue,” said Peter Bakker, an associate professor of linguistics at Aarhus University in Denmark.
According to the New York Times, University of Michigan linguist Carmel O’Shannessy, suggested, “the development of the language was a two-step process.” Children adapted the baby talk their parents spoke to them–itself a combination of the three languages – and added new features to create a whole new language. New languages are found from time to time, yet “no one has been there at the beginning to see a language develop from children’s speech,” added Bakker.
Yet, parents are also urging their children to learn Warlpiri in hopes of preserving their rich culture, researchers reported. They further suggest that the creation of Warlpiri rampaku may be due to the isolation of those who speak it. In fact, located in the very northern part of Australia, Lajamanu is over three hundred miles of dirt roads away from the nearest urban city.
Today, there are about seven hundred inhabitants in Lajamanu, with over 350 who speak Warlpiri rampaku. Specialists, including O'Shannessy, are now questioning the original Warlpiri language will survive. "The elders would like to preserve Warlpiri, but I'm not sure it will be. Light Warlpiri seems quite robust," O’Shannessy said.
[Source: The New York Times]