Self-association in Murriny Patha talk-in-interaction

Joe Blythe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


When referring to persons in talk-in-interaction, interlocutors recruit the particular referential expressions that best satisfy both cultural and interactional contingencies, as well as the speaker's own personal objectives. Regular referring practices reveal cultural preferences for choosing particular classes of reference forms for engaging in particular types of activities. When speakers of the northern Australian language Murriny Patha refer to each other, they display a clear preference for associating the referent to the current conversation's participants. This preference for Association is normally achieved through the use of triangular reference forms such as kinterms. Triangulations are reference forms that link the person being spoken about to another specified person (e.g. Bill's doctor). Triangulations are frequently used to associate the referent to the current speaker (e.g. my father), to an addressed recipient (your uncle) or co-present other (this bloke's cousin). Murriny Patha speakers regularly associate key persons to themselves when making authoritative claims about items of business and important events. They frequently draw on kinship links when attempting to bolster their epistemic position. When speakers demonstrate their relatedness to the event's protagonists, they ground their contribution to the discussion as being informed by appropriate genealogical connections (effectively, 'I happen to know something about that. He was after all my own uncle').

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-469
Number of pages23
JournalAustralian Journal of Linguistics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


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