Content

9 Put in a Nutshell: Lexical Appropriation in a Corpusof Australian Plays in:

Katja Lenz

Lexical Appropriation in Australian Aboriginal Literature, page 305 - 338

1. Edition 2017, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-3964-9, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-6743-7, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828867437-305

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
305 Part Four: Findings and Conclusions 307 9 Put in a Nutshell: Lexical Appropriation in a Corpus of Australian Plays In the following, we shall try to recapitulate the results of the previous seven analyses and summarise the major findings. In order to do so, we will take a look at the numbers and frequencies of occurrence of those lexical items identified as instances of appropriations, on the level of the individual texts as well as within the corpus as a whole. In this context, we will also need to consider possible reasons for the great variation both in the amount and in the nature of the lexical appropriations established for each of the texts. After that, we will return to the conceptual categories we have postulated, detail which domains and individual concepts are most strongly represented in the corpus, and scrutinise the means employed to express them. Lastly, we will focus on those lexical items which recur in two or more texts and consider their role as representative examples of the AborE lexicon. 9.1 Frequency of Occurrence of Lexical Appropriations in the Corpus Taken together, the seven texts analysed have revealed no fewer than 412 different types of lexical appropriation that can be attributed to the influence of AborE speech patterns. Most of them are nominal elements. Only a comparatively small number of appropriations, i.e. 70 items, were also documented in the sources for early Australian contact varieties that were consulted; 42 items are documented in NSW Pidgin. The majority of all lexical appropriations, that is 183 items, are English terms50, but we find almost as many single-word insertions from different Aboriginal languages, namely 178 items. The majority of Aboriginal language words that occur in the plays come from regional languages and thus serve to identify the setting of the action and the characters’ background and linguistic as well as cultural affiliations. Arthur (1996) confirms that 25 of the single-word insertions in the corpus have a wider usage in AborE, and another 36 are also attested in AusE. The great majority, however, appears to be restricted to regional varieties of AborE. The number of the different types of English-derived lexical appropriations is surprisingly small, considering that English terms constitute the major part of appropriations in all texts except for one. Thus, 109 lexical items were found which have undergone semantic modification while another 67 items exemplify how Abo- 50 This includes the items gubs and sit on for which it is not established with certainty that they are English-derived elements. 308 riginal dialects of English use elements from the standard language in unique and often innovative ways; a mere six different English-derived items show phonological modification. Lastly, the item bullyman might best be explained as an example of lexical conflation. This shows quite plainly that many English-derived appropriations occur repeatedly in different texts, a point which will be discussed in more detail below. In addition, 23 multi-word insertions are documented in the plays, most of which are found in Davis’ play The Dreamers. The corpus further reveals 20 hybrid elements that have been counted as lexical appropriations; these include the items baccaddal ‘tobacco’ which is probably a hybrid blend and gooly up which possibly goes back to a NSW Pidgin term. Another three appropriations are non-English pidgin terms: Jimmy Chi’s Bran Nue Dae contributes the ‘world pidgin’ item savvy as well as two elements attributed to Broome Pearling Lugger Pidgin. Finally, our corpus includes five items for which it remains unclear whether they are Aboriginal language words or ultimately spring from another source: bunjin’ (The Dreamers) munga, mungari (Bran Nue Dae), and wurrah (Windmill Baby) all occur in the three texts written by playwrights from Western Australia. The word gunjiwarngs (The Cherry Pickers) might be a combination of the Englishderived gunji, from ‘constable’ and an Aboriginal language word, but this could not be confirmed. The preceding chapters have shown that the degree of lexical appropriation established for the different plays in the corpus varies dramatically, ranging from a total of 190 items that were recorded in The Dreamers to a modest 46 items found in Up the Road. As could be expected, we can detect parallels between the overall number of lexical appropriations established for the individual texts and the amount of Aboriginal language words they contain, that is, those texts that exhibit a larger amount of lexical appropriation are also prone to use a greater number of Aboriginal language words or to include multi-word insertions. A number of factors are likely to contribute to this variation within our corpus, including the playwrights’ own backgrounds, the plays’ thematic focus, the location of the action as well as the time of writing, the intention with which the plays were written, and the audiences they are aimed at. Further, the degree of lexical appropriation recorded for the individual texts may also depend on the particular variety of AborE that is portrayed and on the extent to which the speech used in the plays approaches realistic language use. We must also not forget that writers are no linguists and that their interest is not the exact representation of a linguistic variety. In her analysis of Aboriginal literary texts included in the curricula of Australian schools, Gibbs (1998: 6) notes that even in the work of Jack Davis, whose dialogues converge more noticeably from StAusE usage than those of many other playwrights, “Aboriginal English is represented selectively and judiciously […] to avoid alienating readers who are unfamiliar with the dialect”. She 309 suggests that the author “exploit[s] the dialect for literary purposes by selecting only particular aspects of Aboriginal English to convey the flavour of the variety textually.” In addition, we need to keep in mind that many of the plays under discussion were workshopped extensively and revised under the influence of Aboriginal as well as non-Aboriginal writers and directors. Both The Dreamers, written in the early 1980s but based on an older script, and The Cherry Pickers, written in 1968 and first performed in 1971, belong to the early generation of Aboriginal drama texts. Like many plays of the 1970s and 1980s, they were composed with the intention to illustrate past and present living conditions of Aboriginal Australians and to confront non- Aboriginal theatre goers with realities beyond their field of experience. Thus, one might say that it was not because, but rather despite this thematic focus and the large amount of Nyoongah language that Davis’ plays achieved such a high popularity. His biography shows that in his earlier life, Davis was influenced by people who had retained considerable linguistic and cultural knowledge, including his step-father Bert Bennell (Chesson 1988: 40ff), and that his character Uncle Worru is modelled after three elders whom he got to know as a young man and whom he describes as prolific story tellers and singers, with a great knowledge of cultural practices (Chesson and Davis 1988: 20ff). The Dreamers is the play which shows by far the largest degree of lexical appropriation, containing no fewer than 190 different types. In addition, it makes the most massive use of Aboriginal language material: Davis’ text reveals 91 single-word insertions, 88 of which are from Nyoongah, and another 20 multi-word insertions from the same language. In addition, we find several instances in which items elsewhere occurring as single-word insertions are combined, e.g. choo kynya, ‘real shame’, lit. ‘shame’ + ‘shame’. His text portrays a Western Australian city-dwelling family whose daily routine is determined by poverty, unemployment, alcoholism, and a general hopelessness, but also by a strong sense of family and solidarity. With the arrival of old Uncle Worru the family is confronted with memories of the life on the reserve and forgotten cultural practices. These themes provide ample opportunity for the playwright to interweave his text with lexical material from his ancestral language which relates to a variety of conceptual domains, such as cultural knowledge and practice, local flora and fauna, body parts and intimate or delicate matters, the contact experience, and human relationships. The large amount of Nyoongah language creates a tangible link to Nyoongah culture and lifestyle and is also the reason why The Dreamers is the text which has readers and audiences experience the strongest feelings of cultural alienation, presenting them with a world which is linguistically and conceptually foreign. What is more, the longer passages of Nyoongah, in the form of multi-word insertions or songs, disrupt the English text to an extent that is unparalleled in any of the other plays. 310 Gilbert’s The Cherry Pickers, too, highlights the desperate economic situation of many Aboriginal people and the loss of cultural knowledge and practice. His text, which introduces the audience to the camp life of a group of itinerant fruit pickers, further underlines the need for solidarity and unity within the Aboriginal community. It is not clear how much linguistic and cultural knowledge Kevin Gilbert obtained as a child and youth growing up in Condoblin, but the family did maintain close connections to the local Wiradhuri community. We further know that he studied Aboriginal languages and culture during his prison term, and in many of his works, Gilbert tries to capture the speech of the Aboriginal people of NSW in a realistic manner so that we may assume that his language use in The Cherry Pickers, too, portrays the speech styles of people he knew, for example of those he met when he earned a living as an itinerant worker himself. The Cherry Pickers is the second text within the corpus which is characterised by a marked use of Aboriginal language. The play contains 125 instances of lexical appropriation. Of these, 42 are single-word insertions, including 30 elements from Wiradhuri or other closely related NSW languages. In addition, the text contains two multi-word insertions and eleven hybrid compounds which involve Wiradhuri elements. The Aboriginal language material included in the play describes concepts which pertain to many of the domains that have also been outlined for The Dreamers, viz. to cultural practice, body parts and sexual innuendos, interpersonal relationships, as well as to different forms of behaviour. Bran Nue Dae, written in the late 1980s, was another large success from Western Australia. Penned by Broome playwright Jimmy Chi, the text contains Aboriginal language elements from a variety of different WA languages which underline the linguistic diversity of the northern location. Interspersed with songs by Chi’s band Kuckles, the road-movie-like plot chronicles Willie’s passage into manhood and the characters’ search for identity and a place of belonging. Bran Nue Dae is the third and last text in our corpus which features a substantial amount of Aboriginal language material, even if it is much smaller than that established for the two plays just discussed. Among the 82 lexical appropriations counted, there are 25 single-word insertions and one multiword insertion from WA languages. The great majority of the Aboriginal language elements in the text either describes features of the Western Australian landscape or refers to different language and culture groups, underlining the characters’ areal affiliation. Most appropriations in Chi’s play, especially the lexical items from traditional languages, are found in the lyrics of the songs, many of which were written by Kuckles long before Chi began to work on his musical. Other than the remaining texts in our corpus, Bran Nue Dae also contains the “World Pidgin” (Harris 1986: 262) item savvy as well as terms from Broome Pearling Lugger Pidgin, accentuating the diversity of influences on Aboriginal identity in the northwest of Australia. 311 It appears that the texts The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers and Bran Nue Dae are quite exceptional in their use of lexical AborE features, especially in relation to the amount of lexical material from traditional languages. None of the plays remaining to be discussed makes use of longer stretches of Aboriginal language and also the number of Aboriginal language words established for these texts is substantially lower. Murras is another early text, written in the mid-1980s, by South Australian playwright and activist Eva Johnson whose work again stands in the earlier protest tradition. We do not know much about Johnson’s background except that at the age of two, the author who belongs to the Mulak Mulak people of the Daly River region in the Northern Territory was taken away from her family and spent her childhood and adolescence in different institutions, including an Adelaide orphanage. This personal experience is also reflected in Johnson’s work: Murras deals with the ways in which government policies affect the life of Aboriginal people, here a South Australian family who are forced to leave their home and move to the city where cultural knowledge and practice are no longer of any importance. Murras’ main themes, the effects of Australian assimilation policies and the loss of cultural identity, thus reflect the topics addressed by Davis and Gilbert and provide ample opportunity to include Aboriginal language words for culture-specific concepts. Despite this thematic focus, the text shows a much smaller amount of lexical appropriation and a greatly reduced use of Aboriginal language terms: featuring a total of 60 different types of lexical appropriation, Murras includes a mere seven singleword insertions. This means that crucial cultural concepts are expressed through English and that there is less ‘in-group’ communication which is opaque for outsiders. Many of the English or English-derived items which have been identified as instances of appropriation are long-established and widely used AborE words. On the grammatical level, the dialogue is heavily marked by features that can be attributed to AborE and provide the text with a distinct ‘exotic’ quality. The Aboriginal language words used by Johnson are not restricted to elements from South Australian languages but also include terms from Northern Territory and NSW languages. Therefore, the text noticeably differs in a number of aspects from the other early plays that rely heavily on the insertion of regional language words. Conceptually, the single-word insertions relate to items of clothing, body parts, and cultural practice. A further item describes South Australian Aboriginal people. An even lower degree of appropriation was recorded in Up the Road, written in the mid-1990s by Melbourne playwright John Harding. Harding’s text, which chronicles a young, successful Aboriginal bureaucrat’s return to his home community, is partly based on the playwright’s own experience as a government employee. Up the Road reveals the smallest amount of lexical appropriation: the play includes no more than 46 different appropriation types 312 and contains hardly any Aboriginal language material. Significantly, the three single-word insertions that are found in the text, viz. gin, Koori, and mopoke, all of which are from NSW languages, have also entered the mainstream dialect where they are now established loanwords. The effect created by this shortage of Aboriginal language words is one that could also be observed for Johnson’s Murras, viz. that the plays and their characters are not lexically linked to an identifiable area and that the language employed lacks a regional identification. The thematic focus of Up the Road is on in-group tensions and family relationships, and while we can observe numerous references to the importance of family ties and in-group solidarity, none of the Aboriginal language terms used in the play strictly relates to conceptual domains associated with these themes. Rather, these are most strongly expressed through English kinship terms which are shared with a variety of ethnic dialects and sociolects of English. All in all, Harding’s text appears to rely on well-known and widely used lexical features of AborE; no fewer than 43 of the lexical appropriations established for Up the Road are listed in Arthur (1996), the AND, the OED Online, or Dixon et al. (2006) and thus appear to have wider currency in AborE or AusE. It is unclear if the small amount of Aboriginal language words in Murras and Up the Road is an areal phenomenon and possibly reflects a characteristic of the lexicon of south-eastern varieties of AborE. Arthur (1996: 1) provides an argument in favour of this hypothesis when she remarks: “In southern Australia especially, there were great assimilationist pressures placed upon people not to speak their own language”. She (1996: 3) goes on to say that, there is a major language divide between northern Australian and southern Australia. [...]. In southern Australia, colonisation has been established longest and the proportion of Aboriginal people to non-Aboriginal people is very low. It is the area where there has been the greatest displacement of peoples and the greatest loss of languages and other traditional aspects of life such as ceremony. In northern Australia Aboriginal people have been better able to retain language and traditional aspects of culture because European occupation is much more recent [...], and the population densities of the two cultures and the pattern of European settlement are quite different. This has meant that the Aboriginal English in northern Australia is in general more different from other Australian Englishes [...]. This notwithstanding, we have only just outlined that Gilbert’s The Cherry Pickers, which is also a text from the south-east of Australia, i.e. from an area that experienced early colonisation and grave loss of traditional languages, shows a remarkably high degree of lexical appropriation and includes a mass of Aboriginal language words. The two newest plays in our corpus were written in the 2000s by David Milroy and Wesley Enoch, two successful and well-known Australian playwrights and theatre directors. Both have won the prestigious Patrick White Award and their works have become an integral part of Australian main- 313 stream theatre. Milroy’s play Windmill Baby, set on a derelict cattle station in the Kimberley region, once more takes us to the north of Western Australia where a large number of Aboriginal languages were spoken in close vicinity. In this part of the country, the linguistic repertoire of many Aboriginal people further includes a contact language such as Pidgin English or Kriol, so that we are dealing with a location characterised by great linguistic variety. The play portrays the difficult life of cattle station workers in the middle of the 20th century and sketches the relationships of dependence that arose as results of the contact situation in the Australian north. All this is interlaced with a bittersweet love story. In the author’s note that accompanies the published text, Milroy reveals that the idea for Windmill Baby sprung from conversations he overheard when visiting relatives in the Pilbara, and although he does not explicitly state that the language he uses in his text is based on a Pilbara or Kimberley variety of AborE, his account might lead us to conclude that the play exhibits features indicative of these varieties. In fact, while on the level of grammar Windmill Baby includes several salient characteristics of AborE, some of which are shared with pidgins and creoles, the text makes only a moderate use of lexical appropriation, comprising a total of 51 different types, nine of which are regional language words. As in Bran Nue Dae, the single-word insertions found in Milroy’s play are from a variety of different Western Australian source languages. Four of them describe body parts or private matters; the remaining items belong to different conceptual domains, including the contact experience and the Western Australian fauna. For the first time, we encounter an Aboriginal language word which denotes a white person. Almost half of the English-derived lexical appropriations counted in Windmill Baby fall into the conceptual category ‘Aboriginal way’. These terms do not so much evoke culturally-bound concepts from domains such as religious beliefs, cultural practice, social organisation, or connectedness to the land. Rather, they provide the text with a general Aboriginal ‘flavour’ as they exemplify distinctive AborE modes of expressing realities. Our last play, The Story of the Miracles at Cookie’s Table, written by Queensland theatre practitioner Wesley Enoch, is set on Stradbroke Island where Enoch spent the first years of his life and where a large part of his family still lives. Again we know from the author himself that the idea for his play arose from a family visit. In addition, Enoch has revealed that he attempted to capture the speech styles of people he knew in his text and that, although none of the island languages are still spoken, he acquired a few Stradbroke Island language words during his childhood. In Cookie’s Table, a family story centred on Nathan, a successful Aboriginal government official and his estranged mother Annie, Enoch, too, explores issues of identity and the search for a place of belonging. The amount of lexical appropriation and the number of Aboriginal language words found in The Story of the Miracles at Cookie’s Table is compa- 314 rable to that determined for the play Murras: while 60 different types of lexical appropriation have been counted, only eight of them are single-word insertions. Still, all the single-word insertions in the text are from local island languages or from languages spoken on the adjacent mainland. While few in number, they relate to a variety of different conceptual domains, including body parts, aspects of contact experience, but also fauna and environmental features. While focused thematically on family history and finding a place somewhere in between tradition and modernity, the play reveals a number of English-derived lexical appropriations which relate to cultural practice and aspects of Aboriginal-European contact. 9.2 Lexical Appropriation across Different Conceptual Domains As has been stated before, no conceptual category could be determined for the two items munga ‘just like’ and mungari ‘food’, the etymology of which remains unclear. The remaining 410 lexical appropriations are distributed across the different conceptual domains as follows: a. The continuation of cultural and religious tradition total number: 88 items o 35 single-word insertions, 5 multi-word insertions, 11 hybrid compounds, 24 semantically modified English lexemes, 13 English lexemes that show AborE usage The domain of cultural tradition is the conceptual category which is most strongly represented in our corpus. This is mostly due to the high number of single- and multi-word insertions which relate to cultural and religious knowledge and practice, especially the many items found in the plays The Dreamers and The Cherry Pickers, two texts which place a considerable thematic emphasis on issues of cultural maintenance and loss. b. Kinship structures total number: 16 items o 14 semantically modified English lexemes, 2 English lexemes that show AborE usage, viz. bruz and cousin brother It is a remarkable outcome that the domain of kinship is expressed exclusively through English lexemes in our corpus. Most of these have a semantic scope which differs from that found in StE; two items describe culture-specific kinship concepts by means of blending and compounding. c. Human relationships and social interaction total number: 31 items 315 o 10 single-word insertions, 3 hybrid compounds, viz. boorah time, booreye time, geenjing time from The Cherry Pickers, 6 semantically modified English lexemes, 11 English lexemes that show AborE usage, i.e. distinct lexical combinations, such as friend up, old girl, 1 pidgin term, viz. savvy. In the domain of human relationships and social interaction, on the other hand, one third of all recorded items are Aboriginal language elements. Again, most of the single-word insertions were recorded in The Dreamers, but also in The Cherry Pickers. The domain of feeling and behaviour displays an even higher percentage of traditional language words: d. States of feeling and being and ways of conduct total number: 34 items o 14 single-word insertions, 1 multi-word insertion, 1 element that is very probably a hybrid compound (gooly up), 12 semantically modified English lexemes, 5 English lexemes that show AborE usage, plus wurrah, the origin of which is unclear Here, Davis’ and Gilbert’s texts contribute all single-word insertions. Most of the English-derived terms in this category occur repeatedly in the corpus. e. Body parts and body functions, intimate and personal aspects of live total number: 46 items o 39 single-word insertions, 2 multi-word insertions from The Dreamers, 1 hybrid compound, 1 semantically modified English term, 1 phonologically modified English lexeme, viz. kuckle, 1 English lexeme that shows AborE usage, viz. gumbones from Windmill Baby, and one unclear item, viz. bunjin’ from The Dreamers. This is one of two conceptual categories (excluding category k. Traditional language maintenance) which almost exclusively contain words from regional Aboriginal languages. The only item which occurs repeatedly in the plays is the English term finish. Due to the high density of terms that are opaque for non-Aboriginal people, the items from this conceptual domain play an important role in the creation of a feeling of intimacy among speakers. Again, The Dreamers and The Cherry Pickers contribute the greater number of items, albeit elements from this conceptual domain are found in all plays except Up the Road. f. Relationship to the land total: 12 items 316 o 3 single-word insertions denoting a type of shelter, viz. gunyah, whurly, wiltja, 6 semantically modified English lexemes, 3 English lexemes that show AborE usage The connection between the people and the land is one of the two conceptual domains which are most weakly represented in the corpus. However, the category includes the item country, a widely used term which describes a central concept in AborE. In addition, we find the lexical items Land Council and land rights which refer to recent political developments. g. Nature and environment total number: 31 items o 30 single-word insertions, 1 hybrid compound, viz. jigal tree This is the second category which includes almost exclusively Aboriginal language words. Again, the high number of single-word insertions in this category is largely attributable to the ones found in The Dreamers. Another text which contributes several items is Bran Nue Dae. h. The contact experience total number: 62 items o 18 single-word insertions, 2 hybrid compounds and 1 hybrid blend, 3 phonologically modified English terms, 7 English lexemes that show AborE usage, 27 semantically modified English lexemes, 2 Broome Pearling Lugger Pidgin terms, viz. butta and mukan from Bran Nue Dae, and 2 unclear elements, both of which describe the police, viz. bullyman from Cookie’s Table and gunjiwarngs from The Cherry Pickers. Words that relate to the contact experience form another major conceptual domain which is represented in all of the texts analysed. This category further includes the largest number of phonologically modified English terms which are generally rarely employed as lexical appropriations and also features two lexical items from a northern Australian pidgin. i. Novel conceptualisations of Aboriginality and cultural survival total number: 6 items o 4 single-word insertions, 2 semantically modified English lexemes All of the single-word insertions which fall into this conceptual category denote a regional identity, viz. Koori, Murri, nunga(s), Nyoongah. Like the two items black and blackfella, which are the most frequently occurring words in our corpus (see below) but relate to an Indigenous identity derived from the contact experience, they are widely known and used designations for Aboriginal people. Still, Novel conceptualisations of Aboriginality and cultural survival is the smallest conceptual category in the corpus. 317 j. Aboriginal way total number: 44 items o 25 English lexemes that show AborE usage, 17 semantically modified English lexemes, 2 phonologically modified English lexemes This category, which like (k) Traditional language maintenance is not a conceptual category in the strictest sense, comprises lexical items that express realities in ways not found in StE. As such, it is not surprising that we only find English-derived terms, the majority of which exhibit a distinctive AborE usage. No less than 29 of the lexical items in this category are attested in an earlier contact variety and many of them feature in several texts. k. Traditional language maintenance total number: 40 items o 25 single-word insertions, 15 multi-word insertions Originally set up to account for the numerous Aboriginal language elements found in The Dreamers which defy a classification according to our framework of conceptual domains, this category includes only very few elements from other texts, viz. two items from Bran Nue Dae and one from Windmill Baby. 9.3 Recurrent Concepts When comparing the results of the individual text analyses, it becomes apparent that sometimes, the same or closely related concepts are expressed by a range of different lexical appropriations. Depending on the play in which they are found, these appropriations may take on different forms, e.g. we may find English-derived terms, hybrid combinations, or different Aboriginal language words. In the following, we shall list the different concepts that recur within the corpus and identify the type of lexical appropriation strategy used to express them. The individual elements are discussed in order of the conceptual category into which they fall. From the domain of cultural and religious tradition, we find a range of terms, mostly Aboriginal language words, which describe different types of mythical monsters, evil spirits, and spirit beings. In addition, the corpus reveals different references to dances or the action of performing such a dance, various names of Aboriginal language groups, and words for the time and space in which different events shaped the world: • The ‘Dreaming’: Dreaming (English – The Dreamers) one time (English – Murras) 318 Both references to the Dreaming are made by means of English words. While the term Dreaming is derived from Dreamtime, a (somewhat unfortunate) translation of the Arrernete word altyerre (Arthur 1996: 27), the expression one time alludes to the idea that in the Dreaming, past, present, and future exist simultaneously and as one. The item Dreaming is listed in the online editions of the AND and the OED and is used in different varieties of English. • (Evil) spirits: bugeene (either from the Wiradhuri word bugiiñ or possibly from the English bugan ‘evil spirit’ –The Cherry Pickers) mimi, also as hybrid compound mimi spirit (‘caretaker of the death spirit’, Gunwinygu, central Arnhem Land – Murras) moorlies (Nyoongah – The Dreamers) tjennuks (Nyoongah – The Dreamers) widartji (Nyoongah – The Dreamers) All of the lexical items which describe spirit beings are found in the three earliest texts which put their thematic focus on the loss of Aboriginal culture, with the majority of terms coming from The Dreamers. As such, it is not surprising that we only find Aboriginal language words to express the concepts in this domain. Bugeene, mimi, and moorlies, however, appear to have a wider currency and are also listed in sources for (regional varieties of) AusE. • Monsters: bunyip (either from Wathawurung or from a dialect of Wemba – The Cherry Pickers), Hairy Man (English – Cookie’s Table) Different types of monsters are referred to by the widely used Aboriginal language term bunyip in one text and by the English word Hairy Man in another. The latter item, the English term for a monstrous spirit figure also known by its Aboriginal language name dulugal (Arthur 1996: 31), is included in the most recent play which is aimed at mainstream audiences. • Messengers (of death): Wallitch, from walitj (‘nighthawk’, Nyoongah – The Dreamers) mabung (‘messenger’, Wiradhuri – The Cherry Pickers) wahwee bugeene (Wiradhuri – The Cherry Pickers) mook-pook (owl) (either imitative or from the Sydney language – The Cherry Pickers, Up the Road) messenger (bat) (English – The Cherry Pickers) Four different references to the messenger bird are found in Gilbert’s text The Cherry Pickers alone, where the concept is variously denoted by English terms and Wiradhuri words. In addition, Gilbert’s play includes the item 319 mook-pook, probably from the Sydney language, which is also found in Up the Road, a text that uses hardly any Aboriginal language elements. This underlines the term’s high level of currency. • Dances corroboree (The Sydney language – The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers) Inma (Pitjantjatjara – Murras) karda, middar, nyumby, yahllarah (Nyoongah – The Dreamers) kangaroo dance (Guugu Yimidhirr and English – The Cherry Pickers) waitj dance, yongara dance (Nyoongah and English – The Dreamers) dance(s) (noun and verb, English – The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Cookie’s Table) emu dance (English – The Cherry Pickers) Our corpus further reveals a whole range of items describing dances or the act of dancing. Most of them come from The Dreamers, a text which not only features a variety of Nyoongah words but also contains the more widely used term corroboree as well as different hybrid compounds. Another traditional language term is found in Murras while The Cherry Pickers shows the use of hybrid compounds and the English word dance(s). The latter item also features in Murras and Cookie’s Table. • Local names for Aboriginal language groups: Kamilaroi (Gamilaraay – The Cherry Pickers) Bardi, Karrajarri, Nyikina, NyulNyul, Yawuru (from the respective languages – Bran Nue Dae) Except for the word Kamilaroi, included in The Cherry Pickers, all singleword insertions denoting Aboriginal language groups come from Jimmy Chi’s Bran Nue Dae, indicating the cultural and linguistic diversity of northern Western Australia. All other texts make use of more inclusive terms that describe a wider regional identity. From the domain of kinship, we find one concept which appears in different English-derived forms: • ‘Cousin-brother’ bruz (English – Up the Road) cousin brother (English – Bran Nue Dae) 320 Below we will see that many lexical items which describe family relations and relatives recur in our corpus. Still, ‘cousin brother’ is the only concept that is expressed by two distinct lexical forms in two different texts. In both cases, we are dealing with English terms, viz. a blend and a compound. The conceptual category of human relationships and social interaction contributes several terms of respect for elders as well as different words for children: • Respectful terms of address for elders moodjarng (‘elder’, ‘old gentleman’, Wiradhuri – The Cherry Pickers) old fella (English – The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers) old girl (English – The Dreamers, Cookie’s Table) old man (English –The Cherry Pickers, Bran Nue Dae, Windmill Baby) • Children koolangarah (‘children’, Nyoongah – The Dreamers) little fella (English – The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers) English terms dominate among the terms of address for elders, only The Cherry Pickers includes an Aboriginal language word. At the same time, Gilbert’s play also contains the English term old fella as well as old man, an item that occurs in three different texts. Children are referred to by a Nyoongah word in Davis’ text, however, both The Dreamers and The Cherry Pickers also include the English litte fella. In addition to the two words for children, our corpus reveals the items miggai (‘girl’, Wiradhuri – The Cherry Pickers) and nop (‘boy’, Nyoongah – The Dreamers) which have not been included above. A number of recurrent concepts are further found among the words which relate to states of feeling and being and forms of behaviour, viz., descriptions of madness, expressions for the concept of ‘shame’, and terms for Aboriginal people who have seemingly taken on ‘white ways’: • Madness, crazyness: gwarngee (Wiradhuri – The Cherry Pickers) ngarabarnng (Wiradhuri – The Cherry Pickers) womba (Gamilaraay, Yuwaalaraay & Yuwaalayaay – Cookie’s Table) • ‘Shame’: choo kynya (Nyoongah – The Dreamers) wurrah (source language is unclear – Windmill Baby) shame (English – The Dreamers, Murras, Up the Road, Windmill Baby, Cookie’s Table) big shame (English – Bran Nue Dae) shame job (English – Murras, Up the Road) 321 • Aboriginal people ‘betraying’ their Aboriginal identity, their community: black whitefella (English –The Cherry Pickers) coconut (English – Up the Road) Two texts make reference to states of mental disorder, which are exclusively described by Aboriginal language words of lower currency; The Cherry Pickers even includes two different terms in one text, another regional language term comes from Cookie’s Table. Note in this context that the English word silly, which also features in The Cherry Pickers, is used with the meaning ‘incompetent, childish’ rather than to refer to a mental state. Most plays in the corpus include references to the concept of ‘shame’, however, The Dreamers and Windmill Baby are the only ones which also use a form other than the widely-known English word shame or an expression containing this element. In addition, two English terms refer to Aboriginal people who are reproached for having adopted ‘white’ manners that reject their Aboriginal heritage and identity; both of them play with the black-white contrast. We further find a number of Aboriginal language terms from the conceptual domain of the body and intimate aspects of life which describe a person’s behind; other items in this category are words for the end of life, for excrements, and for sexual intercourse: • Body parts (terms for the ‘behind’) booble (Wiradhuri – The Cherry Pickers) dhoomboo (several northern WA languages – Windmill Baby) doolah (Wiradhuri – The Cherry Pickers) kwon (Nyoongah – The Dreamers) moom (several languages of south-eastern Australia – The Cherry Pickers) muppi (Moondjan – Cookie’s Table) noora (Bardi, Nyikina, and possibly other northern WA languages – Bran Nue Dae) • Death and dying: finish (noun and verb, English – The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Windmill Baby) noych (‘dead’, Nyoongah – The Dreamers) • Faeces: goona (‘excrement’, several Aboriginal languages –Windmill Baby) goonung (‘excrement’, Wiradhuri and other Aboriginal languages – The Cherry Pickers) koomp (‘urine’, The Dreamers) 322 • Sexual intercourse: bunjin’ (‘(to) play around (with women)’, unclear etymology –The Dreamers) geenjing (here ‘(to) fool around’, Wiradhuri and other Aboriginal languages – The Cherry Pickers) The behind is another concept which is expressed exclusively by regional language words of low currency. Again, The Cherry Pickers provides several different words for the same referent. It should further be noted that no fewer than five texts within the corpus make use of appropriations to allude to this body part. Apart from this, we find that four plays use the English term finish in reference to death and dying; Jack Davis further includes a Nyoongah word. The items goona and goonung ‘excrement’, ‘shit’ are very probably different renditions of one widely occurring Aboriginal language word. Gilbert’s play The Cherry Pickers further supplies a variety of different forms that describe a type of temporary shelter and belong to the conceptual domain of a person’s relationship to the land. All of the items are Aboriginal language words that have some degree of currency in AusE: • Shelters gunyah (Sydney language – The Cherry Pickers) whurly (Gaurna and other South Australian languages – The Cherry Pickers) wiltja (Western Desert language – The Cherry Pickers) The contact experience is another conceptual category which contributes a whole range of concepts that are variously expressed. These include descriptions of Aboriginal people which are based on physical appearance, words for white people and for the police, but also terms for alcohol and tobacco as well as for money and for items of clothing: • Terms for Aboriginal people (based on skin colour): blackfella(s) and variants thereof (English – all texts except Bran Nue Dae) black(s) (English – all texts) blackies (English – Bran Nue Dae) dark (English – Cookie’s Table) darkie (English – The Cherry Pickers) Two of the terms for Aboriginal people which are based on skin colour are derived from the English colour adjective dark. These strongly resemble the use of terms such as black(s) and blackfellas which appear to be used more widely and also feature prominently in our corpus. Both adjectives dark and black underline the opposition between the (usually) fair-skinned colonisers and the Aboriginal population. • Terms for white people: gudiya (several Kimberley languages – Windmill Baby) 323 whitefella and variants thereof (English – The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) whiteman (English – The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Bran Nue Dae, Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) While each of the texts makes reference to white Australians, Windmill Baby is the only play which uses an Aboriginal language term (albeit one that has relatively high currency) to describe non-Aboriginal people; all other texts, even The Dreamers and The Cherry Pickers, exclusively employ the two English words whitefella and whiteman. • Terms for the police linjoo (from the term for ‘sour food’, several WA languages – Bran Nue Dae) manatj (‘black cockatoo’, Nyoongah – The Dreamers) bullyman (English-derived – Cookie’s Table) gunjis (English-derived – The Cherry Pickers) gunjiwarngs (unclear – The Cherry Pickers) The terms which describe the concept ‘police’, too, show some variation concerning their source language: two of the texts from Western Australia use regional language words whereas Cookie’s Table and The Cherry Pickers, written by playwrights from Queensland and NSW, make use of English words, both of which involve a phonological modification that causes an alienation effect. The Cherry Pickers further includes the term gunjiwarngs that might be a hybrid compound, combining the English-derived element gunji with an unknown Aboriginal language word, but we have no conclusive evidence for this assumption. • Alcohol gnoop (Nyoongah – The Dreamers) goom (several Qld. languages – Cookie’s Table) kaep (Nyoongah – The Dreamers) widgellee and variants thereof (Wiradhuri – The Cherry Pickers) jirri-jirri tea (Wiradhuri and English – The Cherry Pickers) Only three texts allude to alcohol, usually by means of an Aboriginal language term. Again, The Cherry Pickers shows some variation when referring to this concept, using a hybrid compound in addition to a single-word insertion while The Dreamers reveals two different Nyoongah words for alcohol. Cookie’s Table, the third text, supplies the widely used item goom. • Tobacco gnumarri (Nyoongah – The Dreamers) bacca (English-derived – The Dreamers) baccaddal (probably a hybrid blend – The Cherry Pickers) 324 References to tobacco are found in two texts. This time, The Dreamers provides a Nyoongah word in addition to the phonologically modified English term bacca. The item baccaddal is probably a blend of an English and a Wiradhuri term. • Money boondah (Nyoongah – The Dreamers) bungoo (Yugambeh/Bundjalung – Cookie’s Table) • Underwear, ‘panties’ gundies (Narungga – Murras) jowijj/jowitch (several Kimberley and Pilbara languages – Bran Nue Dae, Windmill Baby) The two remaining recurring concepts from the domain of contact experience, viz. those of money and underwear, are expressed exclusively by means of Aboriginal language words. The last conceptual category which supplies concepts that reappear in different texts is the category that contributes Novel conceptualisations of Aboriginality: • Regional Aboriginal identity: Koori(es) (Awakabal, eastern NSW – Up the Road), Murri(s) (Gamilaraay and several southern Queensland languages – Cookie’s Table), nunga(s) (Nhangka – Murras), Nyoongah (Nyoongah – The Dreamers) Here, references to regional Aboriginal identities are the only concepts which appear several times. While all texts use an English item involving the element black to refer to Aboriginal people, only four plays include traditional language terms that describe a more extensive identity associated with a wider geographical region. These items can be contrasted with words which actually belong to a different conceptual domain, viz. the local names for smaller language groups such as Bardi and NyulNyul that have been listed above as examples of the continuation of Aboriginal culture. Summing up what has been detailed above, we can say that The Cherry Pickers shows the highest degree of variation concerning the types of lexical appropriation that are used to express particular concepts. Repeatedly, the same referent is described by a variety of forms, at times, the author resorts to different Aboriginal language words to refer to a particular concept, at others, Aboriginal language words are used alongside hybrid compounds and/or English terms. A similar tendency can be observed for The Dreamers, although it is not as pronounced as in Gilbert’s play. All other texts usually rely on the 325 same lexical item to denote a particular concept, or as in the case of Murras, on an Aboriginal language word plus a hybrid compound involving this word, e.g. mimi and mimi spirit. We can further detect some tendencies as to which concepts are expressed by which means: not surprisingly, all items that describe Aboriginal language and culture groups as well as those terms which denote regional identity are Aboriginal language words which are derived from individual group names. Aboriginal language words are further employed when reference is made to private or delicate issues such as mental instability, diseases, sexual intercourse, or body parts, as well as to concepts associated with the colonisers and the contact experience, e.g. money and the authorities, or substances such as alcohol and tobacco. In addition, we find that Aboriginal language words are used to describe concepts which belong to the domain of Aboriginal culture and religion and belief systems. The greatest variation in terms of the different types of appropriation which are used to describe the same concept or a number of closely related concepts is found for the ‘messenger (bird)’ as well as for dances. These are referred to by means of various Aboriginal language words (including the established loanwords mook-pook and corroboree), hybrid compounds, and English words. A range of concepts are expressed through either single-word insertions from regional languages or English lexemes, viz. spirits or monsters, address terms for elders, words for children, white people, the police, and tobacco, as well as the concept ‘shame’. Exclusively English terms are used for the concept of a ‘cousin brother’, Aboriginal people who have adopted white manners, and to refer to Aboriginal people on the basis of skin colour. 9.4 Recurrent Lexical Items Not only individual concepts appear repeatedly in our corpus. We can further detect a considerable number of appropriations that feature in more than one text and a few in fact occur in each of the plays that have been analysed. In sum, 90 different lexical items classified as instances of lexical appropriation are found repeatedly in the corpus: These include 52 semantically modified English words, 29 examples of AborE usage of English terms, seven one-wordinsertions, one phonologically modified item, and one hybrid compound. Below, all recurring items will be listed according to their conceptual category and underlying appropriation strategy: 326 a. The continuation of cultural and religious tradition – 16 recurrent items The most frequently recurring lexemes from this category are Dreaming, Law, and way1, each of which was recorded in four different plays. Both Dreaming and Law describe central religious concepts and are widely used AborE words. Dance (n. and v.), old people, and story/stories occur in three texts. The three single-word insertions corroboree (n. and v.), kylie(s), and mookpook/mopoke, too, are widely known lexemes and have entered AusE as borrowings, though not necessarily with the same sense as in AborE. • 10 semantically modified English words: dance (n. and v.), 1. an Aboriginal ceremonial dance, also 2. ‘(to) perform an Aboriginal dance’ (3 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Cookie’s Table) doctor (n. and v.), 1. a spiritually powerful person whose powers include healing, also 2. ‘(to) exert spiritual powers over somebody, particularly to heal’ (2 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers) Dreaming (n.), a collection of events beyond living memory which shaped the physical, spiritual, and moral world and which is still manifested in and sustains the present (4 texts: The Dreamers, Bran Nue Dae, The Cherry Pickers, Murras) language (n.), an Aboriginal language, Aboriginal language (2 texts: Bran Nue Dae, Cookie’s Table) In addition, our corpus contains the element lingo (Cookie’s Table). law (n.), the body of religious and cultural knowledge that informs and directs Aboriginal society (4 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Bran Nue Dae, Up the Road) love song (n.), a traditional song thought to lure a male/female (2 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Windmill Baby) old (adj.) 1. ‘Aboriginal’, but with an added sense that it is part of Aboriginal culture that belongs to the time before Europeans, also 2. ‘having recognised wisdom and authority’ (2 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Bran Nue Dae) In addition, Cookie’s Table has the item old women which is derived from old ‘having recognised wisdom and authority’. song (n.) a traditional Aboriginal song, used to hold the knowledge of the law or the Dreaming (2 texts: The Dreamers, Cookie’s Table) story/stories (n.), a true account, which may include spiritual truth of a thing, event or place 327 (3 texts: The Dreamers, Murras, Cookie’s Table) yarn (n. and v.), ‘Aboriginal story’, also refers the telling of stories as a cultural practice in Aboriginal society, especially the telling of family stories (2 texts: The Dreamers, Cookie’s Table) • 2 examples of AborE usage: old people (NP), people of the older generations, those living and those passed on, holders of traditional ways of living and wisdom, and spiritual guides for those who come after (3 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Windmill Baby, Cookie’s Table) In addition, our corpus contains the NP Old Ones (The Cherry Pickers). way1 (n.), 1. the manner in which one lives as an Aboriginal person, uses language, and performs social and personal activities; the beliefs and customs which provide meaning for this way of living; the term may also be applied to non-Aboriginal ways, 2. customs, beliefs, habits, practices and so forth that belong to Aboriginal society, esp. those that relate to traditional life (4 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Cookie’s Table) • 3 single-word insertions: corroboree (n. and v.), Sydney language, 1. a dance ceremony, of which song and rhythmical musical accompaniment are an integral part, and which may be sacred and ritualised or non-sacred, occasional and informal, 2. ‘(to) perform a corroboree’ (2 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers) kylie(s) (n.), Nyoongah, ‘boomerang’ (2 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers) mook-pook/mopoke (n.), ?imitative, ?Sydney language, an owl, Ninox novaseelandiae, here, the ‘messenger’ bird (2 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Up the Road) In addition, our corpus contains the hybrid compound mook-pook owl (The Cherry Pickers). • 1 hybrid compound: dilly bag (n.), Yagara (Brisbane area) and English, a bag made from woven grass, vine or fibre (2 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Murras) b. Kinship structures – 10 recurrent items Many of the lexical items that pertain to the domain of kinship occur repeatedly in the plays analysed. Half of the terms listed below, all of which are 328 English words, appear four times or more in the corpus: Auntie is the most frequently recurring term, used in six different texts; cousin, family, relation, and uncle appear in four texts. All of the terms have great currency in Aboriginal varieties of English. • 10 semantically modified English words: Aunt, also Auntie/Aunty (n.), an older woman, often wise in traditional language, having status within her community; also a term of address (6 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Bran Nue Dae, Up the Road, Windmill Baby, Murras) blood (n. and adj.) of relatives, ‘close’ (2 texts: Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) brother (n.), a close relative of the same generation, often a parallel cousin, 2. a form of address for a sibling, or a gesture solidarity with another Aboriginal person of the same generation (3 texts: The Dreamers, Bran Nue Dae, Up the Road) In addition, our corpus contains the abbreviation bro (Bran Nue Dae). cousin (n.), a relative of either sex, not necessarily close, but of one's own generation; also a form of address (4 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Up the Road, Windmill Baby) cuz/coz, a familiar form of address for a cousin, also a term of solidarity (2 texts: The Dreamers, Up the Road) family (n.), all one’s blood relatives (4 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) granny/grannies (n.), 1. a term of respect for an older woman who needs not be a relative, also 2. a relative of either sex of one’s grandchildren’s generation or of one’s grandparents’ generation (2 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers) relation(s) (n.), a relation; the term is used much more inclusively than in StE (4 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Up the Road) sister (n.), a female of the same generation, a biological sister or a close cousin, or a person classified as such; also an address term used to express solidarity (2 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers) In addition, our corpus contains the compound sister girl (n.) (Up the Road). uncle (n.), a respectful term of address for an older man (4 texts: The Dreamers, Bran Nue Dae, Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) 329 c. Human relationships and social interaction – 11 recurrent items Six out of the 11 reappearing elements in this category are English words which have been categorised as examples of AborE usage. Most are designations for people belonging to different age classes. In addition, we find the widely used loanword gin. Only flogging occurs in more than three texts. • 3 semantically modified English words: flash (adj.) ‘ostentatious’, ‘attention seeking’, used with the implication that this type of behaviour is more typical for Europeans and not in line with Aboriginal norms of group-oriented and cooperative behaviour (3 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Up the Road) flogging (n.) ‘a belting’ (4 texts: Murras, Up the Road, Windmill Baby, Cookie’s Table) In addition, our corpus contains the related verb flog ‘(to) belt’ (Murras) sing out (v.) ‘call out’ (2 texts: The Dreamers, Bran Nue Dae) • 7 examples of AborE usage: little fella (n.), a child (2 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers) old fella (NP), 1. an older person, 2. a person of recognised authority within the community, normally an older person, also an address term (2 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers) old girl(s) (NP), a respectful reference to a woman of an older generation (2 texts: The Dreamers, Cookie’s Table) old man (NP), a figure of authority, also an address term conveying respect, from old, ‘having recognised wisdom and authority’ (3 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Bran Nue Dae, Windmill Baby) us mob (pron.), a connected group, a whole ‘family’ or a part of it, a group connected in some other way (2 texts: Bran NueDae, Up the Road) you mob (pron.) ‘you (2. pers. pl.)’ (2 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Bran Nue Dae) young fella (NP), a young person, usually a young man (2 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers) • 1 single-word insertion: gin (n.), Sydney language, ‘woman’, ‘wife’ (2 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Up the Road) 330 d. States of feeling and being and ways of conduct – 8 recurrent items While only eight items in this category are used repeatedly in the corpus, three of them can be found in no less than five texts, viz. cheeky, poorfella, and shame. Again, all the lexemes listed below are widely used in AborE. • 4 semantically modified English words: cheeky (adj.) ‘mischievous, but possibly also dangerous’ (5 texts: The Dreamers, Murras, Bran Nue Dae, Up the Road, Windmill Baby) poor (adj.), of a person who has died; (a euphemism for) ‘deceased’, ‘late’ (2 texts: The Dreamers, Up the Road) shame (n.) ‘embarrassment’, ‘fear’, a sense for having transgressed the social and moral code of society, intentionally or unintentionally (5 texts: The Dreamers, Murras, Up the Road, Windmill Baby, Cookie’s Table) In addition, our corpus contains the noun phrase big shame (AborE usage, Bran Nue Dae) sorry (adj.) ‘sorrowful’, ‘full of grief’, ‘grieving’ (2 texts: Bran Nue Dae, Windmill Baby) • 4 examples of AborE usage: gammin/gammon (v. and adv.) 1. ‘(to) pretend or lie’, 2. ‘falsely’ (3 texts: Murras, Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) make out (v.) ‘give the impression’, ‘pretend’ (2 texts: The Dreamers, Murras) poor fella (NP) and variants thereof, referring to the condition of oneself or others, implying recognition of the plight of the human condition (5 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Bran Nue Dae, Windmill Baby) shame job (n.), an event or situation which can cause a person to feel shame (2 texts: Murras, Up the Road) e. Body parts and body functions, intimate and personal aspects of live – 2 recurrent items This time, we find only two items which appear in more than one text, viz. the single-word insertion goona/goonung, a form which is found in numerous Australian languages and the English word finish. This is partly due to the fact that the lexical elements used to refer to concepts connected to the body or to private matters are usually Aboriginal language words that have only limited currency; recall the many different items that were found for the ‘behind’. 331 • 1 semantically modified English word: finish (n. and v.) ‘(to) end, to die’, also ‘the end, an end’, (4 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Windmill Baby) • 1 single-word insertion: goona/goonung (n.), numerous Australian languages, ‘excrement’, ‘shit’ (2 texts: Windmill Baby, The Cherry Pickers) In addition, our corpus contains the compound goonamia ‘toilet’, Nyoongah (The Dreamers) f. Relationship to the land – 4 recurrent items Of the four lexical elements in this category that are used repeatedly, camp and country are included in four and five texts, respectively. The items Land Council and land rights are used in the same sense also in AusE but have been counted as instances of lexical appropriation since they are of special relevance for Aboriginal people and allude to the Indigenous Australian peoples’ struggles to repossess their lands. • 4 semantically modified English words: camp (n.), a living place, temporary or permanent; the term can refer to the living place of either a single person or a small or large group, and can include in its reference a group of houses or a swag under a tree, but always in an Aboriginal-controlled environment (4 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Windmill Baby, Cookie’s Table) country (n.), the tract of land where an Aboriginal person or community belongs, to which they have a responsibility, and from which they can draw spiritual strength (5 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Bran Nue Dae, Cookie’s Table) Land Council (n.), a body appointed to represent the interests of [Aboriginal people] in Aboriginal land (2 texts: Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) land rights (n.), the entitlement of [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples] to possess their traditionally occupied territory (3 texts: Bran Nue Dae, Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) g. Nature and environment – 1 recurrent item The only recurring word in this category is kangaroo. While the lexeme is a widely used loanword in all varieties of English, all usages in the corpus refer 332 to the animal as an item of food, a meaning that is more commonly found in AborE. • 1 single-word insertion: kangaroo/roo (n.), Guugu Yimidhirr (Cooktown/northern Queensland), any of the larger marsupials of the chiefly Australian family Macropodidae, having short forelimbs, a tail developed for support and balance, long feet and powerful limbs, enabling a swift, bounding motion, here used with reference to the meat of the animal (2 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers) h. The contact experience – 14 recurrent items Six of the 14 lexical appropriations which describe the contact experience show a remarkably high frequency of occurrence in the corpus. These are black(s), which features in every play, blackfella and feed, occurring in all texts but one, as well as white man and whitefella, occurring five times. The AND and the OED confirm that the items black, blackfella, white man, and whitefella have currency beyond AborE; the lexeme feed ‘meal’, however, appears to be more common in AborE. • 12 semantically modified English words: big words (NP) ‘formal English’, ‘flash language’ (2 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Cookie’s Table) black(s) (n. and adj.), 1. ‘Aboriginal’, 2. an Aboriginal person (all 7 texts) blackfella (n. and adj.) (and variants thereof), 1. an Aboriginal person, 2. ‘Aboriginal’ (6 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Up the Road, Windmill Baby, Cookie’s Table) boss (n.), a form of address from an Aboriginal person to a European man, not necessarily an employer (2 texts: The Dreamers, Windmill Baby) feed (n.) ‘meal’ (6 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Bran Nue Dae, Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) government (n.) (and variants thereof), all public authorities and their officials whether State or Federal (3 texts: Murras, The Cherry Pickers, Cookie’s Table) 333 In addition, our corpus contains the compound government fella (n.) from government man, describing a person employed by government bureaucracies (Murras) Jacky (n.), a person subservient to whites (3 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Up the Road) mission (n.), an Aboriginal settlement which may or may not once have been a religious institution (2 texts: Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) In addition, our corpus contains the abbreviation mish (Up the Road) missus (n.) a form of address to a white woman, not necessarily an employer (2 texts: The Dreamers, Windmill Baby) take (away) (v.), ‘(to) remove a child from its family and community, to be raised outside its culture’ (2 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Cookie’s Table) white man (n.) (and variants thereof), a non-Aboriginal person, unmarked for gender (5 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Bran Nue Dae, Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) whitefella (n.) (and variants thereof), 1. a white person, a European Australian or other person with a similar appearance, 2. (as adj.) ‘white’, ‘European’ (5 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) • 1 example of AborE usage: tucker (n.) ‘food, particularly European food’ (3 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Bran Nue Dae) • 1 single-word insertion: jowijj/jowitch (n.), several northern WA languages, ‘knickers’, ‘panties’, ‘trousers’ (2 texts: Bran Nue Dae, Windmill Baby) i. Novel conceptualisations of Aboriginality and cultural survival – 1 recurrent item Only one of the items from category (i) Novel conceptualisations of Aboriginality and cultural survival occurs repeatedly in the corpus; it features in two texts. All but one of the remaining words, few as they are, describe wider regional Aboriginal identities. Since the plays analysed come from various parts of Australia, none featured in more than one text. 334 • 1 semantically modified English word: community (n.), 1. a settlement or place where the majority of the inhabitants are Aboriginal, also 2. the Aboriginal community as a community of people which may be regional and specific, or general and non-specific (2 texts: Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) j. Aboriginal way – 23 recurrent items Category (j) Aboriginal way is the conceptual domain which reveals the highest number of recurrent lexical elements, indicating that most items from this category are widely used, in AborE as well as in our corpus. Indeed, 13 out of the 23 English lexemes feature in four texts or more. These are ay, true (both occurring four times), mob, never, no good, one, way2, what for (all occurring five times), big mob, eh, proper, reckon (all occurring six times), and fella (occurring seven times). Again, we find more examples of AborE usage than terms that show semantic change. • 7 semantically modified English words: cruel (adv.) ‘very’ (2 texts: The Dreamers, Cookie’s Table) deadly (adj.) ‘great, fantastic, terrific’ (3 texts: Bran Nue Dae, Up the Road, Windmill Baby) fella (n.), 1. a person, either male or female though usually male, 2. any animate or inanimate thing (all 7 texts) mob, 1. a group of Aboriginal people, linked by relationship and culture, 2. a group of people or animals, 3. an expression of number (5 texts: The Dreamers, Murras, Up the Road, Windmill Baby, Cookie’s Table) plenty (adj.) ‘much (of)’, ‘many’ (2 texts: The Dreamers, Murras) proper (adj. and adv.) ‘real’, ‘really’, ‘truly’, also ‘adequate’, ‘adequately’ (6 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Bran Nue Dae, Windmill Baby, Cookie’s Table) reckon (v.) ‘(to) say’ as well as ‘(to) think’ (6 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Bran Nue Dae, Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) too much (adj. and adv.) ‘very’, ‘very much’, ‘a great deal’, ‘a lot of’ (2 texts: Murras, Windmill Baby) 335 • 13 examples of AborE usage: all gone (adj.) ‘not present’, ‘no more’ (3 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras) ay(e) (int.), an interjection, used as rhetorical comment, usually at the end of statements (4 texts: The Dreamers, Bran Nue Dae, Murras, Windmill Baby) big mob (NP, also used adjectivally), from mob, 1. a group of Aboriginal people, linked by relationship and culture, 2. a group of people or animals, 3. an expression of number; a large group (of people, animals, etc.), a large amount of something (6 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Bran Nue Dae, Windmill Baby, Cookie’s Table) eh (int.), an interjection, used as rhetorical comment, usually at the end of statements (6 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Bran Nue Dae, Up the Road, Windmill Baby, Cookie’s Table) longa (prep.) ‘next to, with’, ‘in, at, to’ (2 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Bran Nue Dae) never (adv.), an emphatic negative (5 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Bran Nue Dae, Windmill Baby, Cookie’s Table) no good (adj.), ‘not any good’, ‘worthless’ (5 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Bran Nue Dae, Murras, Cookie’s Table) one (n.), (as a noun) used with adjectives, with the resulting combination, while appearing noun-like, still functioning as an adjective (5 texts: The Dreamers, Murras, Bran Nue Dae, Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) this one/that one (pron.) and variants thereof, used to indicate sth. with particularity, often used alongside the thing indicated, to distinguish it from another in the same category (3 texts: The Dreamers, Bran Nue Dae, Windmill Baby) time (n.) ‘a specific period’ (3 texts: The Dreamers, Murras, Windmill Baby) true (adv.), used as an intensifier of a statement or a response to a statement, ‘it’s really so’, ‘is that really so’, ‘truly’ (4 texts: The Cherry Pickers, Up the Road, Windmill Baby, Cookie’s Table) unna (int.), an intensifier to a statement or response to a statement, meaning ‘isn't it?’, ‘wouldn't you say’, ‘don't you think’ (2 texts: The Dreamers, Up the Road) 336 way2 (n.), a productive element in the formation of adverbials of manner and place (5 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Windmill Baby, Cookie’s Table) what for (adv.) ‘why’ (5 texts: The Dreamers, The Cherry Pickers, Murras, Up the Road, Cookie’s Table) • 1 phonologically modified English term: nother (adj.) ‘another’ (3 texts. The Dreamers, Murras, Bran Nue Dae) Establishing which of the plays contain the highest number of items that occur repeatedly in the corpus, we find that once again, The Dreamers and The Cherry Pickers lead the field with 57 out of 190 and 54 out of 125 items, respectively. However, both plays also show a much greater amount of lexical appropriations than all other texts, so that percentagewise, the share of recurring items is much lower than that of the other plays. Wesley Enoch’s Cookie’s Table, for example, contains a total of 60 types of lexical appropriations, 42 of which feature in several plays; in Up the Road, no less than 38 out of 46 appropriations are shared with the other texts. The three remaining plays reveal 38 out of 60 (Murras), 34 out of 82 (Bran Nue Dae), and 32 out of 51 (Windmill Baby) recurrent items. It does not come as a surprise that those texts which contain fewer Aboriginal language words also make greater use of English lexemes that are more widely used and thus repeatedly occur in the corpus. Only few Aboriginal language words feature in more than one text, which is mainly attributable to the fact that the majority of the single-word insertions found in the corpus are from local or regional languages and only have restricted currency in AborE. Most of those that are used repeatedly are widely used loanwords, viz. corroboree, gin, goona, jowijj, kangaroo, kylie, and mook-pook. The item goona is found in numerous Aboriginal languages and is also a common lexical feature in many varieties of AborE. Only the term jowijj/jowitch constitutes an exception as it appears to be restricted to varieties of AborE spoken in the north-west of the country. Nevertheless, the word is found in two different texts from Western Australia. All of the seven singleword insertions appear twice in the corpus, so does the hybrid compound dilly bag, which, too, is shared with non-Aboriginal varieties of English in Australia. Generally, the elements which feature in more than one text seem to have a wider currency in AborE and beyond: most have an entry in Arthur (1996) and several are also listed in Dixon et al. (2006), the AND or the OED. Others are discussed in the literature on AborE which indicates that they, too, are regularly occurring lexical features of Aboriginal varieties of English. The only exceptions here are the items jowijj, love song, and you mob which are not documented at all in the literature consulted. 337 What remains unclear is whether the appropriations that feature prominently in the corpus do so because they have currency in the areas where the different plays are set or whether they were deliberately employed by the authors as salient lexical markers of their characters’ Aboriginality. Above, we have determined a notably high frequency of occurrence for several terms from category (j) Aboriginal way, for appropriations which describe Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people (black/blackfella and whitefella/whiteman), for kinship structures, as well as for terms that refer to central religious and cultural concepts such as Dreaming, country, and shame. All of these lexical items are widely-known features of the AborE lexicon and thus possess a strong emblematic character. Hence, we are once again faced with a problem which has already been alluded to in 9.1, viz. our inability to determine whether the texts are representative of varieties of AborE as used in real life contexts. The degree to which the language of a literary work depicts linguistic realities may depend on a number of factors: “Literary works are after all a special category of text written with a particular aim, within a certain tradition, and according to certain literary, sociological (and even marketing) conventions”, as Schmied (1991: 132) points out with reference to the African context [parentheses in original, K.L.]. Keeping in mind what has been said in 7.3 about the influence of non-Aboriginal publishers, marketing conventions, and the audiences at which the plays are aimed, issues such as intelligibility and audiences’ expectations may be considered significant factors in the production and publication process of Aboriginal Australian drama texts. So is the playwright’s own background: the portrayal of authentic language use inevitably demands linguistic proficiency on the part of the author, that is, proficiency in the variety of AborE presented in the play. Further, it is impossible for us to distinguish between features that are based on observation of real language use and those which may be ascribed to the author’s linguistic creativity. In fact, there is the possibility that, at least in some cases, we are dealing with something like a ‘stage language’ that is sufficiently easy to understand for a non-Aboriginal audience but is spiced with enough widely known AborE lexical features to provide the texts with a distinct ‘Aboriginal’ quality. Without comparing the texts to realistic speech samples from the individual areas, it is impossible to answer if, and to which degree, the speech portrayed in these texts has been adapted to ensure a better comprehensibility and to meet possible audience expectations. Such a comparison of drama texts to natural speech would represent an interesting area for further research.

Chapter Preview

References

Abstract

Today, virtually all Aboriginal people in Australia use English in their daily interactions. This is not surprising: in a situation in which many Aboriginal languages are lost beyond retrieval, English, as the official language of education, administration, law, and generally the language of the Australian mainstream society, has become the major medium of communication for the Australian Aboriginal community. Still, Aboriginal English, the variety most commonly spoken by Aboriginal people, often differs in many aspects from what is the accepted linguistic standard in Australia. Adapted to their communicative needs, it allows its speakers to express values, beliefs, and attitudes which are strongly influenced by their socio-cultural background.

Katja Lenz investigates how the lexico-semantics of Aboriginal English provide the means needed to express concepts not shared with speakers of Australian English. Approaching these questions from both the angle of Cultural Linguistics and that of Post-colonial Studies, she further shows how these tools are employed by Australian Aboriginal playwrights, who exploit the lexical resources of AborE for the linguistic construction and assertion of their own and their characters’ Aboriginality.