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Australian Aboriginal Languages

The languages of Australia form a unique group whose external genetic connections are unclear. Many linguists believe that all evolved from a single ancestor language because of so many shared phonetic and grammatical characteristics, but time depth (time during which a language undergoes independent genetic development) makes reconstructing “proto-Australian” difficult, leading others to maintain that Australian languages constitute a geographical rather than a linguistic group.

One major division can be drawn within Australia—between the Pama-Nyungan languages, which cover 90% of the continent, and the much more diverse non-Pama-Nyungan languages, which are found in the far north (the Kimberly, Arnhem Land) and Tasmania. Personal pronouns are very different between these two groups, and only a small set of common monosyllabic verb stems suggests any relationship at all ...

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