Australian Aboriginal English


Australian Aboriginal English

Australian Aboriginal English (AAE) is a term referring to the various varieties of the English language used by Indigenous Australians. These varieties, which developed differently in different parts of Australia, vary along a continuum, from forms close to standard English to more nonstandard forms. The furthest extent of this is Kriol, which is regarded by linguists as a distinct language from English. Speakers change between different forms according to social context.

Several features of AAE are shared with creole languages spoken in nearby countries, such as Tok Pisin in Papua New Guinea, Pijin in the Solomon Islands, and Bislama in Vanuatu.

AAE terms, or derivative terms, are sometimes used by the broader Australian community. This is particularly true in outback areas, where the indigenous population is generally more significant than in urban and suburban areas.

Phonology

Grammar

Pronouns

Although "he" and "him" are masculine pronouns in standard English, in Aboriginal English, particularly in northern Australia, it may also be used for females and inanimate objects. The distinction between "he" as the nominative form and "him" as the accusative form is not always observed, and "him" may be found as the subject of a verb.

"Fellow"

In some forms of Aboriginal English, "fellow" (also spelt "fella", "feller", "fullah", "fulla" etc.) is used in combination with adjectives or numerals, e.g. "big fella business" = "important business", "one-feller girl" = "one girl". This can give it an adverbial meaning, e.g. "sing out big fella" = "call out loudly". It is also used with pronouns to indicate the plural, e.g. "me fella" = "we" or "us", "you fella" = "you".

Lexicon

Kin terms

Words referring to one's relatives are used in different senses to Standard English, reflecting traditional kinship systems.
*"Aunty" and "uncle" are used as terms of address for older people, to whom the speaker may not be related.
*"Brother" and "sister" include close relatives of the same generation, not just siblings.
*"Cousin" includes any relative of one's own generation.
*The combinations "cousin-brother" and "cousin-sister" are used to refer to biological cousins.
*In south-east Queensland, "daughter" is used to refer to any woman of one's great-grandparents' generation. This is due to the cyclical nature of traditional kinship systems.
*"Father" and "mother" include any relative of one's parents' generation, such as uncles, aunts, and in-laws.
*"Grandfather" and "grandmother" can refer to anyone of one's grandparents' generation. "Grandfather" can also refer to any respected elderly man, to whom the speaker may not be related.
*"Poison" refers to a relation one is obligated to avoid. See "Mother-in-law language".
*The term "second", or "little bit" in northern Australia, is used with a distant relative who is described using a close kinship term. For example, one's "second fathers" or "little bit fathers" are men of one's father's generation not closely related to the speaker. It is contrasted with "close", "near" or "true".
*A "skin" or "skin group" are sections which are determined by the skin of a person's parents, and determine who a person is eligible to marry.
*"Son" can refer to any male of the next generation, such as nephews.

Business

Many Aborigines use the word "business" in a distinct way, to mean "matters". Funeral and mourning practices are commonly known as "Sorry Business". Financial matters are referred to as "Money Business", and the secret-sacred rituals distinct to each sex are referred to as "Secret Women's Business" and "Secret Men's Business".

Camp

Many Aborigines refer to their house as their camp, particularly in Central Australia and the Top End of the Northern Territory.

Deadly

Deadly is used by many Aboriginal people to mean excellent, very good, in the same way that "wicked" is by other English speakers. The Deadlys are awarded for outstanding achievement by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. This usage is not exclusive to Aborigines.

Gammon

Victorian era English word for "pretend". Still used by some Australian Aborigines to mean joking generally. Gammoning – usually pronounced "Gam'in"'.

Australian language expert, Sidney J. Baker, lists "gammon" used by "whitefellas" as "falsehood".

Gubbah

"Gubbah" is a term used by some Aboriginal people to refer to white people. It is a shortening of the word "Government", since traditionally Aboriginal people's contact with whites most often involved government officials. Another theory is that it is a contraction of "Governor". It has also been said to mean "White Ghost".

Humbug

Whereas humbug in broader English (see Charles Dickens's Scrooge character) means nonsensical, or unimportant information, humbug in Aboriginal English means to pester with inane or repetitive requests. The Warumpi Band's most recent album is entitled "Too Much Humbug". In the Northern Territory, humbug is used by both black and white in this latter, Aboriginal way.

Mob

Regularly used to mean a group of people. Unlike broader English, it does not usually mean an indiscriminate crowd, but a cohesive group. My mob – my people, or extended family. Mob is also often used to refer to a language group – "that Warlpiri mob". This term is also found in the name of outback New South Wales hip-hop group, The Wilcannia Mob.

Yarn

English word for a long story, often with incredible or unbelievable events. In Australian English, and particularly among Aborigines, has become a verb, to talk. Often, "Yarnin"'.

ee also

*Australian Aboriginal Pidgin English
*Australian English
*Australian Aboriginal languages
*Kriol
*List of English words of Australian Aboriginal origin
*Torres Strait Creole

References

*cite book |last=Arthur |first=J. M. |year=1996 |title=Aboriginal English |publisher=Oxford University Press Australia
*cite book |year=2000 |title=Aboriginal English in the courts: a handbook |publisher=Dept. of Justice and Attorney General |id=ISBN 0-7242-8071-5 |url=http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/courts/pdfs/handbook.pdf

External links

* [http://coombs.anu.edu.au/WWWVLPages/AborigPages/LANG/WA/4_7_1.htm West Australian Aboriginal English]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Australian Aboriginal kinship — is the system of law governing social interaction, particularly marriage, in traditional Australian Aboriginal culture. It is an integral part of the culture of every Aboriginal group across Australia. Contents 1 The subsection or skin name… …   Wikipedia

  • Australian Aboriginal Pidgin English — refers to the pidginised varieties of English spoken by Australian Aborigines until about the early 1950s for communication with Europeans and other immigrant ethnic groups, as well as with other Aborigines with whom they did not share a common… …   Wikipedia

  • Australian Aboriginal sweet foods — Australian Aborigines had many ways to source sweet foods. The four main types of sweet foods gathered – apart from ripe fruit – were[1]: honey from ants and bees (sugarbag, see below) leaf scale (honeydew – lerps) tree sap flower nectar In some… …   Wikipedia

  • Australian Aboriginal languages — Aboriginal language redirects here. For other uses, see Indigenous languages of the Americas. For all the languages of Australia, see Languages of Australia. The Australian Aboriginal languages comprise several language families and isolates… …   Wikipedia

  • Australian Aboriginal mythology — Australian Aboriginal myths (also known as Dreamtime stories, Songlines or Aboriginal oral literature) are the stories traditionally performed by Aboriginal peoples [Morris, C (1994) “Oral Literature” in Horton, David (General Editor)] within… …   Wikipedia

  • Australian Aboriginal languages — Group of perhaps 250 languages spoken by the one to two million native inhabitants of Australia before the beginning of European conquest in 1788. More than half are now extinct; of the remainder, only about 20, mostly in the North Territory and… …   Universalium

  • Australian Aboriginal cricket team in England in 1868 — The Australian Aboriginal cricket team in England in 1868 was a cricket team made up of Australian Aborigines that toured England between May and October 1868, the first Australian cricket team to travel overseas. The first tour by an Australian… …   Wikipedia

  • Australian Aboriginal sign languages — NOTOC Many Australian Aboriginal cultures have or traditionally had a sign language counterpart to their spoken language. This appears to be connected with various taboos on speech between certain people within the community or at particular… …   Wikipedia

  • Aboriginal English — /æbəˌrɪdʒənəl ˈɪŋglɪʃ/ (say abuh.rijuhnuhl ingglish) noun one of a number of variants converging on Australian English, especially characterised by the pronunciation, lexis, and idiom typical of many Aboriginal people, including distinctive… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Transcription of Australian Aboriginal languages — Prior to the arrival of Europeans, Australian Aboriginal languages had been purely spoken languages, and had no writing system. The Latin alphabet of the colonizers was inevitably used for the transcription of Australian Aboriginal languages, but …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.