Murrinhpatha is a morphologically complex language from northern Australia which, like other polysynthetic languages, uses complex morphology to encode syntactic relations. Understanding the interaction between morphology and syntax in such languages, and the ways in which meaning and function are distributed across these two grammatical domains, is important for addressing a big unanswered question in our field namely, what difference these structural choices make for the broader linguistic system. In this paper I present recent research on different aspects of Murrinhpatha – including child language acquisition, child-directed speech, and linguistic processing in sentence production – to address this question. I argue that taking such a multi-faceted approach is important for scaling up our language documentation efforts, and crucial for our understanding of linguistic diversity.
February 11, 2021 - 10:35am