Dr Dorothea Hoffmann
University of Chicago

Spatial Frames of Reference (FoR) have been analyzed from a variety of different angles including cross-linguistic variety, detailed individual language descriptions, considering the impact of landscape and cognition, and regional overviews. Little attention, however, has been paid to their usage patterns. Consequently, this paper analyzes a curious restriction on the use of different types of absolute directionals within Location and Orientation settings. The analysis is based on a previous observation for Jaminjung that absolute FoR can be conditioned by whether the speaker is also the ground or not (Schultze-Berndt, 2006). The paper aims to expand on this finding for two languages spoken in the same general area of Australia; namely MalakMalak and different varieties of Kriol. It particularly focuses on the influence of morphosyntactic features in FoR and orientation descriptions and takes cognitive approaches as well as cultural salience into consideration. All the three languages restrict the usage of their absolute directional systems. For example, in Jaminjung, the river-drainage system can only be used in orientation settings and instances where the speaker is also the deictic center from which angles are projected. It also is preferably used in large scale settings. In MalakMalak, on the other hand, wind-based directionals are restricted to orientation settings alone and sun-based terms function similarly to the Jaminjung system, albeit in large- and small-scale descriptions. This paper systematically investigates the three languages’ systems, particularly focusing on MalakMalak and aims to explain similarities and differences.

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