Two Missing Pieces in a Nyulnyulan Jigsaw Puzzle


  • Claire Bowern Yale University



Nyulnyulan is a fairly closeknit language family of northwestern Australia. It has been suggested that the family may be an old dialect continuum. While most classifications have recognized two branches, the languages in the middle were all but unattested. It has therefore proven difficult to judge whether the two branches are a result of a tree?like split, or a consequence of missing data. I show from previously missing data that Nyulnyulan is not a dialect chain; there is a clear split even when considering data from the middle languages. This is further evidence that Australian languages are not outside the methods of traditional historical linguistics.