SEMINAR: Linguistics Seminar Series 2019
|Linguistics Seminar Series 2019 : Yarnin’ the blackfella way: Quotation in urban Aboriginal English
Metropolitan cities around the world have increasingly become global. Linguistically, this trend is linked to the ingress of linguistic variants readily taken up by metropolitan youth (Cukor-Avila, 2012). Quotative be like is one such variant and the quotative system of English worldwide has changed drastically since its inception. Tagliamonte, D’Arcy &Rodríguez Louro (2016) document overwhelming parallelism in how quotation is deployed across English varieties. Are Aboriginal English speakers participating in global linguistic change? If so, what is the trajectory of this change? We ask these questions not to measure Aboriginal English against a ‘standard English’ canon (cf. Dickson, Forthcoming) but to interrogate how linguistic change across distinct social groups may be seen as indicative of social cohesion (or lack thereof).
Our data stem from the DECRA Corpus of Aboriginal English (Rodríguez Louro, 2018-2021) currently consisting of over 50 hours of talk-in-interaction data stemming from the speech of 70 speakers aged 11-88 who reside in urbanised Nyungar country. We circumscribe the envelope of variation functionally to include all uses of direct quotation, internal thought and non-lexicalised sounds and gestures (example 1). We use linear mixed-effects logistic regression. Our preliminary results show highly constrained discourse-pragmatic variation with marked generational differences. The suite of quotative verbs in the Aboriginal English sample shows a variability of forms unattested in white Australia (where the bulk of the variation is represented by say amongst the pre-1960s-born and by be like amongst millennials and Generation Zs). Additionally, tense and grammatical person operate differently in Aboriginal English where the historical present is not lexically conditioned and first person plural subjects play a prominent role.
(1) So I come running out of the room. […]. I said, ‘Don’t open the door. Now she knows we’re home’. Then ah, well, she goes, ‘Oh, it’s okay’. I said, ‘You deal with her then, you deal with her’, because she thought she knew. […]. She opens the door now. She says, ‘Oh, come inside. Do you need any help?’ I said to her, ‘I’m warning you, don’t take that meat off her’ because she had a trolley, a pram with no baby in there, a pram full of meat. Then she comes pushing it in. She’s like, ‘Hi darling, how you going? Thanks for letting me in your house’, and pushes the white girl and says ‘Get out of my way’ and walks in the kitchen. She’s like ‘I’m making a feed, I don’t care’. I walked out. She reckoned, ‘See, that’s my niece there. She’s black. I’m allowed in this house.’ (Female/18/2001)
Our findings support Malcolm’s (2018: 23) claims that the difference between Aboriginal and mainstream Australian English is emblematic of a lack of integration between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal speech communities which have ‘maintained a largely parallel existence in Australian society’. They also align with Wolfram & Schilling-Estes’s (2006: 229) finding that most African Americans ‘do not participate in major dialect changes’ attested in European American communities in the USA. In sum, the disparities between the quotative systems of Aboriginal English and Anglo-Celtic Australian English are the linguistic reflex of the social chasm between black and white Australia.
Celeste Rodriguez Louro is a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow at UWA. Trained in Argentina, the USA and Australia, Celeste is interested in the linguistic and social factors shaping language usage and in how this usage ultimately contributes to language evolution. Her current DECRA fellowship is allowing her to document sociolinguistic variation in cross-generational Aboriginal English, in collaboration with Glenys Collard.
Glenys Collard is an Executive Member at Mallee Aboriginal Corporation and an Honorary Research Fellow at UWA. A South West Nyungar woman and matriarch within her nuclear family of over 300 people, Glenys has experience working in government and non-government agencies including providing training on Aboriginal English. In the public sector, contributes significantly to developments related to policy and planning. She has also co-authored numerous educational and academic papers.
Celeste Rodríguez Louro and Glenys Collard
UWA, Social Sciences building room 22.03
Dr Maïa Ponsonnet
Fri, 22 Nov 2019 11:00
Fri, 22 Nov 2019 12:30
Karen Eichorn <[email protected]>
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 09:33
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