Aboriginal Languages of Australia - Bayala Database - columns and fields


4.4 ANALYSIS FIELDS: DFX, tense, pronouns, sfx, function













Fig. 4.41 Examples of the analysis fields in use, with the function explanations to the right




The next group of fields and columns are analysis fields, comprising:

—DFX 1 to 6 (shades of blue)

—tense (medium blue)

—bound pronouns (purple, crimson, mauve)

—suffix 1 to 3 (orange, light brown, dark brown)

—function 1 to 6 (shades of blue)



These fields were introduced to increase the probability of finding word matches. How? Well, Australian languages are said to be ‘agglutinative’, operating largely by the addition on suffixes to word stems. This happens to some extent in English, as for example, in the word ‘hope’:









But it happens a great deal more in Australian indigenous languages. In the case of verbs, suffixes take the place of tense marker words in English (will, did), as well as some adverbs; and in the case of nouns suffixes are used to make case where needed (subject, object, possessive and others) where word order and prepositions carry out this role in English.

Consequently Australian indigenous words commonly have a stem with one to five or more additional endings of suffixes attached to it. The analysis columns in the Bayala databases attempt to isolate the suffixes in the DFX and SFX columns, and the numerous columns enable them to be presented in the order in which they occurred in the original word.



For verbs, it is common to have a tense marker for future or past, which often follows some other suffixes. And some of the languages have ‘bound pronouns’ attached to the word stems, often following the tense marker, to show who is doing the action, and to whom. Normally the subject pronoun (marked PN N) comes before the object pronoun (PN A), but where the subject pronoun follows the object pronoun, it features in the ‘P pst’ field/column.



The blue shaded ‘function’ columns are where the opportunity is provided to identify the function of the various suffixes, if such function can be perceived. Tense and pronoun columns are not explained here as the tense and pronoun columns are sufficient explanation in themselves.

The abbreviations used in the functions columns may be obscure at times. An explanation of them might sometimes be found in the ‘elaboration’ bars at the top of the screen, most likely in the third (dark green) ‘Elaboration Concept’ often used to elaborate on suffixes.