Learning Pitjantjatjara: A longitudinal study of how children learn Pitjantjatjara

A child playing while wearing a recording device during fieldwork

This research project looks at the linguistic development of young Indigenous children as they grow up learning the traditional Australian language Pitjantjatjara as their mother tongue.

In order to explore this topic, around 20 focus children living in the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands are being recorded with their families at regular intervals over multiple years. By building such a corpus of recordings we can track children’s individual language development as well as investigate numerous aspects of language development within the cohort more generally.

This longitudinal study began in 2016, with postdoctoral researcher Rebecca Defina’s (ongoing) work in Pukatja (Ernabella), which now extends also to the community of Mimili. In early 2019 the project expanded to include children living in another two communities in the APY Lands, Pipalyatjara and Kalka, through postdoc Lucy Davidson’s research.

Chief Investigators: Professor Jill Wigglesworth, Dr Rebecca Defina and Dr Lucy Davidson.