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11 Summary and Conclusion: Lexical Manifestations of Cultural Distinctiveness in Indigenous Playwriting in:

Katja Lenz

Lexical Appropriation in Australian Aboriginal Literature, page 361 - 380

1. Edition 2017, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-3964-9, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-6743-7, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828867437-361

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
361 11 Summary and Conclusion: Lexical Manifestations of Cultural Distinctiveness in Indigenous Playwriting The aim of the present thesis was to • identify those elements that accomplish a lexical appropriation of the standard language in Australian Aboriginal drama texts, • determine which different types of lexico-semantic features are employed to achieve this goal and make statements about the individual elements’ currency in AborE, AusE, and beyond, • establish the source languages and meanings of the non-English elements; • examine the concepts associated with the individual lexical appropriations, and explore whether these are culturally bound and grounded in a distinctly Aboriginal rather than mainstream understanding of the world, • determine if the elements identified as instances of lexical appropriation always fill a lexical gap by expressing meanings for which no St(Aus)E equivalent exists or whether they may also assume functions which go beyond catering for a lexical need. Most of these questions have already been answered in the previous chapters: all texts employ a range of different lexical elements which serve to appropriate the standard dialect in order to communicate ideas that are distinct from a mainstream understanding of the world. In the Australian corpus, English lexemes that have undergone semantic modification or show a usage that deviates from StE slightly outnumber single-word insertions from Aboriginal languages, even though the analyses of Purapurawhet and The Rez Sisters suggest that English lexemes are less commonly employed as tools for lexical appropriation outside Australia. Most of the single-word insertions come from languages (formerly) spoken in the area in which the play is set and where the author maintains family relationships. Other elements identified as instances of appropriation in the Australian texts are Aboriginal language words from other parts of the country which often have wider currency in varieties of AborE and/or AusE, longer passages in Aboriginal language, English lexemes that have undergone phonological modification, hybrid compounds, or terms from contact languages. Most appropriations express concepts that could be assigned to one out of a fixed number of conceptual fields which were established with the help of J.M. Arthur’s dictionary of Aboriginal English. Most prominently represented are the domain of cultural tradition, the body, and the domain of feeling and behaviour. These are the categories which include large numbers of Aboriginal language words, many of which only feature in one text. A great number of English lexemes, on the other hand, reoccur in the 362 texts, which at least partly supports Leitner’s (2004b: 129) claim that it is mostly innovative usages of English terms which render the AborE lexicon unique. Still, the texts have shown that, at least in Australian Aboriginal drama, also words from Aboriginal languages may occur in a variety of domains and are by no means restricted to describing aspects of Aboriginal culture, flora and fauna, or people and regional identities, as is suggested by the studies discussed in 6.4.2. That said, we can turn our attention towards some of the findings that merit further discussion. It has transpired that in the Australian corpus Aboriginal language words prevail in certain domains while other conceptual categories reveal almost exclusively English lexemes. Another conclusion that can be drawn is that the amount of lexical appropriations determined for the individual conceptual categories, irrespective of the items’ source languages, varies considerably, so that while some domains are strongly represented in the corpus, others are only occasionally alluded to. What is more, we can observe that individual concepts dominate in the corpus: for example, most texts include references to the concept ‘shame’ or terms for the behind. Further, the corpus reveals a substantial degree of variation in terms of the amount of lexical appropriations established for the individual text, a factor that markedly affects the ways in which the texts are perceived. Another issue that needs to be re-addressed here concerns the reasons for lexical appropriation. Throughout the present thesis, we have been operating on the assumption that the desire to express culturally-bound concepts for which no StE equivalent exists is the major stimulus for processes such as semantic modification, lexical combination, or the insertion of Aboriginal language words into an English matrix. This implies that lexical appropriation is almost invariably motivated by lexical need, i.e. by the requirement to convey certain ideas in a language that lacks the necessary terminology to do so. In fact, for a great number of lexical appropriations represented in our corpus, this appears to be the case: the most obvious examples come from the domains of cultural tradition and kinship where terms such as bugeene, boolya man, Dreaming, or cousin brother show that there exist obvious gaps in the StE lexicon which indeed call for innovations. This notwithstanding, the corpus analyses have shown that lexical shortcomings on the part of the standard dialect are not the only reason for lexical appropriation: all of the texts include a number of items that describe concepts for which StE provides alternatives – consider, for example, the different terms for body parts or words for alcohol, tobacco, and other concepts related to the contact experience. Hence, there must be additional factors that determine when a St(Aus)E word is replaced by an AborE lexical feature. But what are these factors? This is another question which we shall attempt to answer in the following, and we will see that the functions associated with many of the lexical appropriations identified in 363 the drama texts reflect ideas and statements on the role and functions associated with AborE that have been outlined and discussed above. In this context, the findings from the analyses of Purapurawhet and The Rez Sisters will serve to establish parallels and help to corroborate our judgements. First, however, let us begin with a brief overview of the concepts that are preferably expressed by Aboriginal language words in the Australian corpus. We must admit that some single- and multi-word insertions do not fit into the established conceptual categories and are thus better regarded as examples of how speakers attempt to preserve the greatest possible degree of lexical knowledge of their ancestral language. Still, the analyses have shown that those words and passages which can be associated with a particular conceptual category are most commonly employed to describe the following concepts: • Aspects of religious and cultural knowledge and practice. Even though widely used English terms such as Dreaming, dances, or Law are also used in these contexts, many texts show bias for the inclusion of local or regional language words to refer to concepts from this domain. • An understanding of the world which diverges from that of non- Aboriginal people. This comprises a wide array of themes and conceptual domains, including a different sense of connectedness to the land and a more intimate understanding of the environment, distinct moral and social codes, and a classification of people based on age, status, and knowledge. Our results show that various concepts from these domains may also be expressed via English lexemes; yet, some of the texts reveal a marked preference for Aboriginal language words. At the same time, the Australian corpus does not include a single Aboriginal language term which describes notions of family and kinship structures. In the texts analysed, these are exclusively expressed by English terms even though Arthur (1990: 35 and 1996) provides evidence that in some regions of Australia, Aboriginal language words are in fact used to describe relatives and kinship structures. The findings from Purapurawhet where kin relations were conveyed by both English and M ori terms indicate that the use of (more widely used and therefore better known) English kinship vocabulary is more common in the Australian plays. Perceptions of place and time, quality and quantity, too, are exclusively expressed by English-derived terms in the corpus. • An experience not shared with the mainstream society, one that is grounded in colonial history and pertains until today and combines, among other things, the omnipresence of institutionalisation in people’s lives with a reality defined by poverty and unemployment. This differing experience is also reflected in the use of single-word insertions to describe aspects of daily life, a strategy which renders opaque 364 even those concepts shared by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal speakers. • Painful or delicate matters, such as recollections of past sufferings that are often a direct result of the colonial experience, but also allusions to violence, death and disease, and sexual innuendos. • Aboriginal people. This includes the names of smaller language groups as well as the more recent practice to express Aboriginal identity by means of terms that denote a larger, regional identity and a shared set of cultural conventions. The use of Aboriginal language words in this context often emphasises the contrast between Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal society. The last point brings us back to something that has been touched upon in 9.2, viz. the different types of lexical appropriation that are employed to describe Indigenous linguistic and cultural identities. Most of the texts in the corpus reveal some degree of variation in the designations they use, and Aboriginal language words frequently co-occur with English-derived terms. In two texts, however, English terms are preferred over single-word insertions. One of them is The Cherry Pickers which includes a single instance in which a local language group name is employed: the item Kamilaroi features in a description of one of the older characters’ cultural background, underlining that she is one of the last ‘real’ Kamilaroi elders. Elsewhere, Gilbert’s text relies on the appropriations black and blackfella, both of which relate to the contact experience and appropriate an English term introduced by the colonisers. There are several conceivable reasons why his text makes a more extended use of these items: The English-derived words have a much wider scope of referents, that is, they are used all across the whole of the country and serve to describe diverse forms of Aboriginality found in Australia by one and the same term, thus embracing and combining a variety of identities. Derived from the English colour adjective black, both terms underline the contact experience by distinguishing ‘white’ colonisers and ‘black’ Aboriginal society. As such, they may be employed as a linguistic tool which establishes pan-Aboriginal unity and creates a feeling of cohesion. Plus, the terms not only refer to Aboriginal people of Australia but may also be applied to other indigenous peoples elsewhere who share similar histories of oppression and experiences of racism; this is also alluded to in The Cherry Pickers when the characters talk about the North American ‘Black Power’ movement. That the terms were deliberately included due to this function is especially probable for writers such as Gilbert and Johnson whose texts are strongly grounded in the protest tradition and reveal the most vibrant political message. At the same time, Gilbert’s The Cherry Pickers is characterised by the frequent insertion of Wiradhuri words that express a strong regional affiliation and underline the diversity of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Australia. 365 The political message is not as pronounced in Windmill Baby. However, Milroy’s text is exceptional in our corpus as it is the only text which uses exclusively English terms to describe Aboriginality. It is unclear if it was their role as makers of pan-Aboriginality which prompted Milroy to employ the items black and blackfella rather than an Aboriginal language word to designate Aboriginal people or if the author had different motives for his choice, e.g. the great diversity of language and culture groups of the Kimberley area, or a reluctance to foreground a particular heritage. At the same time, however, Windmill Baby is the only Australian text which employs an Aboriginal language word to describe white people, viz. gudiya. In all other plays, Euro- Australians are referred to as whitefella or whiteman. In The Dreamers, Murras, Up the Road, and Cookie’s Table, the two English items black and blackfella are used alongside the Aboriginal language terms Nyoongah, nunga, Koori, and Murri that convey a regional identity. The Aboriginal language terms exhibit a certain unifying element in that they describe a regional affiliation which has replaced a range of former local identities that were destroyed in the wake of colonisation. However, despite their wider applicability, the terms remain geographically restricted and hence involve a stronger identification both with a fixed (if larger) part of the country and a limited set of language and culture groups. Thus, characters who resort to single-word insertions such as Koori, Murri, or Nyoongah signal a more pronounced connection to their heritage than those who refer to themselves and others as blackfella. Areal affiliation is most strongly felt in Bran Nue Dae where local names for Aboriginal language groups dominate. Chi’s preference for names of smaller, local language groups firmly links the characters to the Broome area and its Aboriginal cultural heritage and further evidences Arthur’s (1996: 234ff) findings that in much of northern Australia, original language names have been retained. The insertion of lexical items such as Bardi, Nyikina, or Nyul Nyul thus creates a sharp contrast to the use of the comprehensive terms black and blackfella. While these mask the cultural and linguistic variety that pertains in Aboriginal Australia, references to local groups highlight this diversity, especially the multiplicity of languages and identities found in the north-west of the country. What all designations of Indigenous people have nevertheless in common is that they serve as a constant reminder of the characters’ Aboriginality, setting them apart from the Australian mainstream society. The contact experience is another domain which is repeatedly addressed in the texts as a factor that distinguishes the Aboriginal characters in the play from the mainstream society. In our Australian corpus, this domain is represented by Aboriginal language terms that relate to alcohol, tobacco, and other ‘introduced’ items such as money and clothing, as well as to experiences of 366 institutionalisation, most markedly expressed by recurring references to the police. Again, Davis’ The Dreamers provides the largest collection of these terms, for example words for alcohol (gnoop, kaep), tobacco (gnumarri), tea (marngk), the police (manatj), imprisonment (woonana ‘behind bars’), Many of the other texts, too, reveal comparable insertions, e.g. alcohol is referred to as widgellee or jirri-jirri tea in The Cherry Pickers; tea is jiree. Cookie’s Table has goom ‘methylated spirits’ and bungoo ‘money’, and Bran Nue Dae includes the item linjoo ‘police’. As has been noted above, all of these concepts could have been expressed through StE so that lexical need cannot account for the occurrence of these appropriations in the corpus. What they all have in common, though, is that they are highly emotionally charged. As references to the colonial experience and its harmful effects on the Aboriginal population, they evoke strong feelings of pain, fear, and oppression. Expressing these hurtful concepts by means of Aboriginal language words moderates their emotional impact. Further, the appropriations underline that painful matters are prone to be expressed by lexemes which are opaque for non-Aboriginal people who are not part of the speakers’ social group that is defined by heritage, linguistic and cultural knowledge, and a shared understanding of the world. The prominence of these items in our corpus therefore indicates their significance as tools of linguistic in- and exclusion: choosing a code which only allows cultural insiders to discuss these issues promotes a sense of solidarity among those who share the very experiences of institutionalisation, poverty, displacement, suppression, and racism that can never be fully understood by members of the mainstream society. Meanwhile, resorting to such a code limits the number of speakers who are able to participate in the conversation to members of a closeknit group who have a considerable amount of linguistic and cultural knowledge and possess a common understanding of Aboriginal values and norms. The replacement of existing StE vocabulary by Aboriginal language words therefore underlines that lexical appropriation favours the creation of what is often described as a ‘counter-discourse’ (see for example Tiffin 1989) that resists and subverts both the colonial perspective as well as its linguistic forms of representation. This counter-discourse, emphasising Aboriginal experience, may also render aspects of every-day life inaccessible for outsiders, so that even concepts such as marngk ‘tea’ or boogadies ‘shoes’ become incomprehensible. Still, we need to acknowledge that not all lexical items which relate to the contact experience are Aboriginal language words. The pidgin items butta and mukan that feature in Bran Nue Dae underline that the Australian contact experience is not restricted to encounters between Aboriginal people and Euro- Australians. Unlike the remaining texts, Bran Nue Dae makes use of gambling terms rather than describing introduced substances such as tobacco and alcohol. What is more, not all lexical appropriations conceal the semantic content 367 of what is being discussed and promote an insider code. English lexemes such as bacca, mission, and ration (as well as Rez in the Canadian context) are readily understood references to colonial history and as such confront the readers with more obvious representations of the dark side of contact. In addition, non-standard items such as bullyman ‘police officer’, government fella, and whitefella show that English terms, too, have the potential to subvert the linguistic standards of the mainstream society and undermine the authority of the concepts. So does the ironic and self-deprecating use of words such as blackie, blackfella, darkie, or Jackie which appropriates the negative connotations that are inherent in the non-Aboriginal usage of these terms. Another attempt at subverting the power and dominance of the white mainstream society is found in the application of the items boss and missus in The Dreamers. While both address terms commonly serve as lexical reminders of the power exercised by the colonisers over Aboriginal people, Eli employs them when begging, by using a submissive rhetoric to achieve his goals: “Can you spare forty cents, boss? God bless you, sir, God bless you, missus.” (Davis 1982: 120). The pervasive nature of the contact experience and its ongoing relevance for Aboriginal people is reflected in the high number of appropriations from this domain and their wide presence in the corpus. Concepts of a more delicate nature, such as sexual innuendos or descriptions of private body parts, mental health, and diseases constitute another field preferably addressed by Aboriginal language terms. This is exemplified by the large number of single-word insertions for the ‘behind’ and other body parts as well as by the various references to madness or craziness. The apparent preference for these concepts to be expressed by means of lexical appropriation is supported by the findings from Purapurawhet which exhibits the M ori words nono(s) ‘backside, behind’ and p rangi ‘be insane, mad, crazy, mentally ill’. Much of what has been said above also applies here: Aboriginal language terms serve to obscure a concept for which an English word might be felt to be too explicit. At the same time, they provide a tool for the exclusion of outsiders by preventing speakers of the standard dialect from fully understanding the discourse, and only allow those who are able to fully comprehend the terms’ meanings to participate in the conversation. This brings us back to the model developed by Koch & Oesterreicher (e.g. 1985) who define criteria for a ‘language of immediacy’ (“Sprache der Nähe”) which has already been addressed in the analysis of Davis’ The Dreamers. There, we noted that immediacy is not only based on the spatial and temporal proximity of speakers, as is required for dialogues, but also on the social and emotional closeness between the participants in the conversation, as well as on the informal and cooperative nature of the speech situation and an emotionally loaded content. The use of Aboriginal language words in these contexts further reflects the high degree of diatoptic variation found in different varieties of AborE, which is another 368 characteristic of immediacy, while aspects such as the dialect’s informal and unofficial character (in contrast to the more formal and official standard language) and its function as a social dialect indicate low diastratic and diaphasic levels, two further criteria for immediacy. Whereas the ‘language of immediacy’ tends to be associated with the spoken word rather than the written text, the model does not suggest that orality and literacy necessarily constitute opposite extremes on a scale and need to be equated with immediacy and distance, respectively. Instead, Koch & Oesterreicher (1994: 588f) locate different discourse types within a two-dimensional continuum in which a horizontal axis connects the opposite end points ‘immediacy’, which corresponds to ‘conceptually oral’, and ‘distance’, which corresponds to ‘conceptually written’. The vertical dimension takes into account the medial realisation of the discourse, i.e. the phonic or graphic code. The two-dimensional continuum therefore also accounts for written representations of language which are conceptually oral, such as the dialogues in our plays which conserve spoken language in a graphic code. While the numbers of appropriations relating to body parts vary considerably for the individual texts, each of the Australian plays except Up the Road includes terms from this conceptual category. Eva Johnson’s play Murras, however, reveals an entirely different usage of a single-word insertion relating to body parts and shows that these may not always contain a sexual or delicate connotation. In her text, the concept of murras ‘hands’ is tightly connected to actions that are often carried out by women. The term functions as the play’s leitmotif and a symbol for the demise of Aboriginal culture while it also underlines the role of women as caretakers, providers, and guardians of cultural practice. It hence provides an interface between the domain of the body and that of cultural tradition. The latter conceptual field, too, contributes a number of features that deserve further attention. Chapter 9.2 has revealed that the domain of cultural tradition contributes the largest number of lexical appropriation types in the corpus, a result underscored by the findings from chapter 10. This could be understood as a more general tendency of many drama texts to foreground aspects of Indigenous culture while it certainly also evidences that this domain embraces many concepts for which there is an actual gap in the lexicon of standard varieties of English. However, we need to remember that while references to cultural and religious practices can be found in every play, the high number of appropriations pertaining to this conceptual domain in the Australian corpus is largely due to the influence of the two earliest texts and as such not representative of the corpus as a whole. Above we have asserted that this category shows bias for single- or multi-word insertions, a statement that is accentuated by the high number of M ori words for aspects of M ori culture in Purapurawhet . While this tendency is undeniable, we can also observe the 369 recurring use of widely shared English lexemes such as Dreaming, dances, language, Law, or song to describe central concepts of Aboriginal belief systems, knowledge, and cultural practice. Yet, not unlike blackfella, these are often ‘head terms’ which relate to a superordinate category rather than to a specific concept. Other, more detailed concepts, e.g. different kinds of evil spirits, particular dances, different tools or implements, and the names of regional or local language groups are often described using the respective Aboriginal language terms which provide more immediate references to individual cultural practices than the rather vague English terms. Compare, for example, a text passage from Cookie’s Table to two quotations from The Dreamers: “She didn't do the dances or speak the language.” (Enoch 2007: 18) “Go on, Pop, show him a real middar. Go on, oldy, a real dinkum yallarah.” (Davis 1982: 86) “Oh, that’s just Nyoongah talk.” (Davis 1982: 96) Although the corpus is too small to make any definite statements on chronological variation, a change in the way cultural tradition is manifested and represented in the plays can be detected: it appears that the higher number of single-word insertions which was established for the earlier Australian texts goes hand in hand with a) a greater tendency to relate to aspects of cultural tradition and b) a higher frequency of Aboriginal language words that describe these very concepts. This is most notable in The Dreamers and The Cherry Pickers where elements from Nyoongah and Wiradhuri abound. The more recently written texts, on the other hand, include fewer references to cultural knowledge or practice, many of which are expressed by means of less specific but more widely used English lexemes. This trend, however, seems to be restricted to the Australian texts: Purapurawhet , a more recent text, dating back to 1997, shows that in ME, traditional language elements dominate in these contexts while in The Rez Sisters, written in the 1980s, few appropriations describe cultural tradition and Cree and Ojibway languages and stories are referred to as old language and old stories, a result that certainly also depends on the degree to which the individual dialects (AborE, ME, First Nations English) favour the use of words from the native language(s). The change in the way cultural practice and religious beliefs are portrayed in the Australian plays is not restricted to the general amount of appropriation or to the types of appropriation encountered in the individual texts. The different applications of the English terms story and yarn, for example, show an interesting trend towards a second process of semantic shift: in The Dreamers, the item yarn is employed both to relate to accounts of things that have happened in the past as well as to the narration of spiritually significant content. In Murras, the related element story is used in the sense ‘the belief system of a person and the society, especially as manifested in accounts of the 370 dreaming’ (Arthur 1996: 59). In Cookie’s Table, the most recently written Australian play, the term story refers to a different type of narrative, viz. to the telling of family history, and so does yarn which further relates to accounts of past events or the telling of anecdotes, as well as to the skills needed for ‘yarning’: “I reckon there is a gap in your upbringing, my lad. Who ever heard of a Murri who couldn’t tell a yarn?” (Enoch 2007b: 49). Hence, while yarning remains a central aspect of Aboriginal practice, the contents of the yarn or story need not come from the domain of cultural knowledge associated with the Dreaming. In Enoch’s text, they relate to the characters’ family background which provides an alternative framework for the transmission of values and knowledge. The application of the terms therefore indicates a novel understanding of how oral history is maintained and continued, indicating a new interpretation of what is regarded as cultural practice and which types of stories are meaningful and may provide a basis for the development of an Aboriginal identity. Both items demonstrate how cultural practice may be adapted and receive a new form; they further support Sharifian’s (2007: 182) claim that cultural conceptualisations are not static but may be negotiated and renegotiated, thus expanding or changing over time. Having said that, it needs to be mentioned that category i) Novel conceptualisations of Aboriginality and cultural survival, which embraces lexical elements that reflect the changing nature of Aboriginal culture rather than emphasising on aspects that have been preserved since pre-colonial times, is by far the smallest conceptual category. The family stories told in Cookie’s Table all somehow revolve around the characters’ home island, and like Worru’s yarns in The Dreamers, they demonstrate that this type of narrative is often intricately linked to the landscape. Indeed, the Australian plays reveal that lexical appropriations which describe environmental features or the connection between the people and the land constitute yet another form of cultural continuity. The insertion of Aboriginal language words such as barni ‘large goanna’, goolil ‘turtle’, mayi ‘bush food from plants’ (Bran Nue Dae), or kohn ‘wild potato’ and kudden ‘red gum tree’ (The Dreamers) not only indicates that speakers possess the lexical knowledge required to relate to the local flora and fauna; it further demonstrates an intimate understanding of the environment and an expertise in living with and living off the land. The insertion of references to this type of knowledge hence confirms a cultural know-how that, although different from the forms of religious and cultural wisdom discussed above, establishes a tangible link to the characters’ heritage. The greatest amount of single-word insertions relating to nature and the environment are found in the Western Australian plays Bran Nue Dae and The Dreamers, and while in the latter, descriptions of religious knowledge and practices such as dancing or ceremonial proceedings by far outnumber those which denote environmental features, terms describing the 371 local environment effectively constitute the major references to cultural tradition in Chi’s play. What is remarkable in this context is that Johnson’s play Murras exclusively employs Standard English vocabulary to describe natural phenomena, and also The Cherry Pickers contains a mere two elements from this conceptual category, including the loanword kangaroo which here describes either an item of food or a totem. Windmill Baby, too, includes a word for this animal, the Western Australian term maloo. Although an Aboriginal language word, maloo has a strong emblematic function here since the most well-known symbol of the Australian fauna is the sole representative of the Australian landscape in Millroy’s text which does not include any further references to the Western Australian environment. Cookie’s Table reveals two single-word insertions from the domain of nature, viz. the loanword eugari, a regional term for the ‘pipi’, an edible marine bivalve mollusc, and Kawana ‘calm waters’. The latter presents an interesting type of lexical appropriation, one which had not been observed so far: while describing an environmental phenomenon, Kawana is also a personal name. Cookie’s choice of a name for her daughter therefore raises the connection between an Aboriginal person and the land to yet another level. By calling her daughter ‘calm waters’, she asserts both her knowledge of the natural environment and the girl’s affiliation with the locality, firmly establishing their home island as a place of belonging and showing how closely linked personal identities are to places and locations. Interestingly, the New Zealand text Purapurawhet contains a similar example of how a natural phenomenon is employed as a name. Here, the personal name Awatea, chosen by Hohepa for his second son translates as ‘middle of the day’, ‘(broad) daylight’, ‘diurnal’ according to the Te Aka Online M ori Dictionary. Other personal names do not relate to environmental features but still have a highly symbolic character: one example is Zhaboonigan ‘needle’ which is used for a character in The Rez Sisters who experienced sexual abuse. Another emblematic use of a personal name is found in Kevin Gilbert’s The Cherry Pickers where a family name illustrates the ‘value’ of the Aboriginal fringe dwellers within the wider Australian society: "Yeah, Jacky Shilunsworth said the whites are tryin' again to kill us orf an' git rid of all us blacks by stoppin' babies with the pill they got now." (Gilbert 1988: 32, my emphasis). However, this particular name has not been included as instance of appropriation, neither have Wunman and Twoman that feature in Milroy’s Windmill Baby and might be seen as yet another example of how experience may be categorised: “You come out first so your name is Wunman and your brother come out last so his name is Twoman.” (Milroy 2007b: 209). The bond between the characters and a particular tract of land and the importance of a life close to this land for the maintenance of an Aboriginal cultural identity is even more apparent in the use of terms from the domain of 372 ‘country’. Still, different terms for shelters that feature in The Cherry Pickers are the only single-word insertions found in this category, all other elements are English lexemes which are widely used in different varieties of AborE, e.g. camp, and country. The items belong, birth tree, and born place once more establish a connection between a person and his or her country that is based on the idea of ‘belonging’ to a place and the links this person has to the land, concepts not found in non-Aboriginal usage. The newer texts further reveal lexical appropriations which express ideas of asserting Aboriginal people’s relationship with and right to their ancestral land that are informed by more recent political developments: Up the Road and Cookie’s Table include the items Land Council and land rights. Like apology, these terms are also used in AusE but are of special significance for Aboriginal people as they acknowledge the struggle for their ancestral land. Contemplating the lexical appropriations used to describe codes of conduct and interpersonal relationships, we find that it is once more The Dreamers which provides the largest portion of the Aboriginal language words. Again, we can observe that Jack Davis’ text shows a tendency to resort to Aboriginal language words in order to denote concepts elsewhere described by English lexemes, take for example the term nyoch ‘dead’ which is used alongside the English finish, or choo and kynya that are used for the concept elsewhere denoted by the word shame or variants such as big shame, shame job. The only other text which employs a different term for this concept is Windmill Baby; the source language of the item wurrah ‘shame’, though, remains unclear. Like the Nyoongah element choo, wurrah functions as an exclamation of disapproval or distress. Further lexical items pertaining to the domain of feelings and conduct are allusions to physical violence expressed, for example, by the Nyoongah terms woort beerny ‘(to) strangle’ in The Dreamers or by binyardi ‘a fight’, ‘(to) fight’ in Windmill Baby, as well as allusions to mental states in the form of different single-word insertions. In The Cherry Pickers, we find two different Wiradhuri words, viz. gwarngee ‘stupid’ and ngarabarnng ‘silly’; Enoch’s Cookie’s Table uses the term womba ‘mad’, ‘crazy’ from a neighbouring NSW language (Gamilaraay, Yuwaalaraay & Yuwaalayaay). The role of these singleword insertions as agents of social and emotional proximity and tools for the exclusion of outsiders has been discussed above. An English word is most commonly employed to refer to undesirable or deviant demeanour: cheeky ‘mischievous, but possibly also dangerous’ features in five texts. Items such as gammin’ ‘(to) pretend or lie’ or jar (up) ‘(to) scold’ further show how terms that are now obsolete in other varieties of English have been conserved in AborE. Recognition of the hardship of life is expressed by the item poorfella and variants thereof that are found in five texts. In addition, The Cherry Pickers and Up the Road include terms for Aboriginal people who behave or live in a way that others see as rejecting Aboriginality, viz. black whitefella and coconut. Note that 373 similar terms based in the idea of ‘black outside – white inside’ are also found in other varieties of English, as was demonstrated by the term Apple Indian in The Rez Sisters. The ME term born again, too, criticises the denial of a person’s Indigenous heritage. The concept underlying this particular instance of lexical appropriation is nevertheless a different one. In the Australian corpus, the domain of interpersonal relationships is marked by the recurrence of different terms of respect for elders, most of which are English-derived and involve the element old, as in old fella and old girl. The Cherry Pickers further has the Wiradhuri term moodjarng ‘old gentleman’, ‘elder’. Very similar terms are found in Purapurawhet , e.g. Koro and Kui, terms of address for an older man and woman, respectively, and kuia ‘elderly woman’, ‘grandmother’, ‘female elder’. Like the AborE terms, these appropriations recognise the wisdom and knowledge associated with old age. Children and young people, on the other hand, are also frequently described by lexical appropriations. The English little fella occurs repeatedly in the corpus, but we also find Indigenous language words such as the Nyoongah terms koolangarah ‘children’, nop ‘boy’, and the Wiradhuri word miggai ‘girl’. The latter two have their equivalent in the M ori elements hine ‘girl, daughter’, tama ‘son, boy, nephew’; the M ori lexeme wahine ‘woman’, ‘female’, ‘lady’, ‘wife’ corresponds to the Sydney language word gin and Nyoongah yorga. Other AborE lexical appropriations in this conceptual category trigger notions of amicability and solidarity, e.g. modgeee ‘friend’, ‘mate’, ‘companion’ or us mob and us people, describing a connected group. Again, lexical need alone does not justify the inclusion of any of these one-word insertions. Rather, it appears that lexical items from the domain of human relationships, too, are employed to stress social cohesion within the community of speakers and both call for and strengthen solidarity among speakers. Finally, it needs to be pointed out that the Australian corpus reveals two conceptual categories that exclusively rely on English-derived vocabulary to appropriate the language of the texts53. One of them is the category we have termed Aboriginal way, which is a collection of words and usages not or only rarely found in StE, such as distinctive lexical combinations as well as unique applications of function words, adverbs and adjectives. This category differs from the others in so far as the lexical items that pertain to it do not refer to a specific subject or thematic field. Rather, many of the appropriations in this category demonstrate that AborE has ways of classifying and describing experience that differ from non-Aboriginal modes and display structural substrate influence; others show how speakers have tried to find a way to adhere to the pragmatic conventions of their ancestral tongues in a language that does not 53 Here, we include the item savvy which is originally from Spanish or Portuguese but occurs widely in English-based pidgins and creoles. 374 provide the lexicon necessary to do so. Some manifest that AborE is an outcome of colonial history. These features are ubiquitous elements of AborE varieties and occur widely in all the Australian plays. Thus, we can observe a whole range of appropriations expressing notions of direction (e.g. this way, that way), position and distance (e.g. all about ‘everywhere’, longway ‘far (from)’), and time (e.g. directly ‘in a little while, -time, indicating a specific period). Others define conditions (e.g. all gone ‘not present’, ‘no more’, all same ‘like’, ‘similar to’), quality (e.g. deadly ‘great’, ‘terrific’), and quantity (e.g. half, ‘part’, plenty ‘much (of)’, ‘many’, too much ‘very’, ‘very much’, ‘a great deal’, ‘a lot of’). We further find different function words, e.g. pronouns (this one/that one) or prepositions (longa ‘next to, with’, ‘in, at, to’) and salient lexical combinations such as big mob or what for. Interjections such as ay, eh, unna directly relate to Aboriginal norms of obtaining information. Several appropriations found in this category have been taken over from the speech of the colonisers in the nineteenth century; many of these terms are also recorded in earlier Australian pidgins. The great number of items which fall into this category shows that the linguistic variation which arises from structural differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal modes of communication or pragmatic conventions is a pervasive one and must not be underestimated. In addition, many items recur in different texts, indicating that these features are widely used markers of Aboriginal speech patterns. More than half of the lexical items in this category are attested in an earlier contact variety and some, e.g. by and by, longa, plenty, and savvy, are also found in other post-contact varieties of English and are testimonials of British colonial expansion. Still, neither the New Zealand text Purapurawhet nor the Canadian The Rez Sisters include any corresponding English-derived expressions other than the tags eh and innit. Last but not least, we need to address the distinctive use of kinship terms which constitutes another salient characteristic of the AborE lexicon and was found to be a constant feature of all the texts in our corpus. While Purapurawhet has shown that ME employs traditional language terms to describe concepts such as whanaunga ‘relative’, ‘relation’, ‘kin’, ‘blood relation’, or wh nau ‘extended family’, ‘family group’, all of the lexical appropriations found in our Australian corpus that relate to the domain of kinship are English-derived and as such are seemingly easy to understand also for non- Aboriginal speakers. At the same time, they reveal a semantic scope that mirrors an understanding of family relations and kinship structures found in Aboriginal society. Arthur (1990: 33) explains: In the traditional kinship terminology of Aboriginal languages, there were generally two processes at work. One was the use of a more detailed kinship vocabulary than is found in English, which made it possible for instance, to distinguish between older and younger brother, or between parallel cousins (children of mother's sisters or father's brothers) and cross cousins (children of 375 mother's brothers or father's sisters). The other, conversely, was a widening of the meaning of other kin terms to include biologically more distant relatives who had the same 'social relationship' to a given person. How these concepts have been transferred into English is manifested, for example, in the use of terms which have undergone semantic widening, e.g. brother, which denotes a relative of the same generation who may not be a biological brother, or granny, which may be applied to a grandparent as well as to a grandchild, revealing an underlying idea of reciprocity. We further find that more narrowly defined relationships may be expressed by coinages such as cousin brother (also bruz), describing a concept not found in StE, viz. that of a cousin whose social role corresponds to that of a brother. The large and complex system of mutual responsibilities that is inherent in Aboriginal kinship structures is also reflected in the use of cousin, family, or relation which have a much wider range of referents than in their StE sense. Hence, terms such as cousin may refer to quite distant relatives of the same generation, that is, the word includes people who are to be clearly distinguished from blood, i.e. ‘close’ relatives. Kin terms may also be used to express other forms of social relationships that prevail in Indigenous Australian communities. Hence, whereas terms such as auntie or uncle commonly serve to convey respect for older people, especially for those who hold cultural, religious, and linguistic knowledge, brother or sister are frequently applied to signal solidarity with a person of one’s own generation and call to mind particular rights and obligations. However, none of those addressed by any of these terms need to be (close) relatives of the speaker. In addition to the use of M ori terms to describe kin relations, Grace-Smith’s text also reveals the items aunties, cuz, and uncle that are employed in ways which parallel AborE usage, and Highway’s The Rez Sisters, too, employs a kinship term, viz. sister, which promotes accord between the speaker and the addressee and stresses a shared background. Taking a closer look at the kinship terms found in our corpus, we find that several of them occur in different senses in different plays and that a particular term may even serve various functions within the same text. For example, the character of Aunt Sissy in Up the Road really is Ian’s aunt. Nevertheless, she is also addressed and referred to as Aunt(ie) by the other characters to whom she is not (or only more distantly) related, an application that indicates Sissy’s status within the Flat Creek community. In Cookie’s Table, on the other hand, the women referred to as Aunty are either the speaker’s biological aunt or a great aunt. What is more, The Cherry Pickers shows that the term may serve yet another function, that is, it may be used to encourage loyalty and mutual support: “Well pass on a little of that ‘mergency treatment here to your old sister! Your poor old auntie.” (Gilbert 1988: 35). This type of variation in the meanings expressed by these terms is also considered by Harkins (2000: 73) who notes that “the semantic scope of auntie, uncle varies between different groups, and in some places is a general term of respect for elders”. In 376 a similar vein, all characters in Davis’ The Dreamers belong to the same family so that Worru, who is generally addressed by means of the term Uncle, defined by Arthur (1996: 88) as ‘a respectful term of address for an older man’, is an actual uncle or great-uncle to most of the Wallitches. Likewise, Roy addresses his younger relative Eli as nephew. Still, the text also provides an example of how the same terms are used in Aboriginal society to call for solidarity and support: “There they was: ‘Give me fifty cents, brother’, ‘Give me a dollar, nephew’, ‘Give me fifty cents, uncle’; and you know none of them black bastards are related to me.” (Davis 1982: 105). Another example of the ways in which kin terms function in AborE is provided by John Harding’s text Up the Road that includes a bar scene in which the young male characters Ian and Charlie repeatedly address each other as brother, bruz, or cuz: IAN: I got no problem brother. I get drunk, I fall down, go to sleep, wake up, go home! No problem! CHARLIE: Yeah, well, that’s not what they reckon up here. You know what the Koori grapevine’s like, cuz. (Harding 1997b: 18, my emphasis) IAN: Thanks, bruz! Here, have another one, lighten the load, eh? CHARLIE: Ta, bruz. (Harding 1997b: 21, my emphasis) Here, the terms not only promote a connection that is based on a shared background and heritage but can also be understood as expressions of a more general male solidarity, an application which is additionally found in colloquial mainstream usage. The various ways in which kinship terms are employed in the different texts thus reflect Sharifian’s suggestion that “members may in fact more or less share these [cultural] conceptualisations” (2003: 193, emphasis in original). To conclude our discussion, we need to return to the question which functions can be associated with lexical appropriation and whether or not these can be understood as a way of negotiating the ‘culture clash’ in colonial societies. The above has tried to shed some light on the ways in which Australian Aboriginal playwrights utilise the resources of AborE to communicate a world view which is grounded in a unique cultural and religious tradition as well as in the more recently developed conceptions of Aboriginal identity which have sprung from it, a different understanding of family relationships, Aboriginal conventions of social interaction and notions of status and accepted behaviour, the people’s bond with the land and its resources, the effects of contact, and, lastly, a different way of categorising and describing experience. The appropriations that are used to relate to these domains largely arise from a need to express concepts for which the standard dialect does not provide adequate means. Thus, they underline the validity of Ashcroft et al’s. (2002: 38) 377 assertion that “the language is taken and made to ‘bear the burden’ of one’s own cultural experience” which has been quoted in chapter 0. While many appropriations therefore cater for a lexical need, others obviously not only fill a lexical but also a conceptual gap. Examples of this include kinship terms such as sister or cousin which, in their AborE sense, not only function to establish the speaker’s and addressee’s relationship and evoke a feeling of solidarity, but also manifest how the schema ‘solidarity’ conveys expectations of reactions such as support and protection (cf. Sharifian 2007: 188f). However, those examples of appropriation which have been classified as instances of traditional language maintenance, first and foremost the Nyoongah multi-word insertions found in The Dreamers, indicate that a higher amount of traditional language material in a play often goes along with a greater number of insertions which do not fill lexical or other gaps. Rather, many of the passages in question, i.e. Winjar noonuk? ‘Where are you?’ or Kia kurnan, kunarn! ‘Yes, it's the truth!’ can safely be considered examples of codeswitching which do not express culturally-bound concepts but create a linguistic environment that appropriates (and abrogates) the standard language by turning it into an exotic code that is inaccessible for speakers of the standard dialect. The findings from the Ma ri English text Purapurawhet support this claim. Still, abrogation, which ultimately provides the foundation for appropriation, need not automatically be based on the insertion of non-English material, as passages such as the following impressively show: TADPOLE: [reciting] Us people want our land back, we want ‘em rights, we want ‘em fair deal, all same longa white man. Now this fella longa Canberra, he bin talkin’ about a Bran Nue Dae – us people bin waiting for dijwun for 200 years now. (Chi 1991: 84, my emphasis) We further found that in some cases, Aboriginal language words are employed to replace existing English terms. Here, the motives for lexical appropriation must be different again and indeed, these items bring us back to the role of AborE in the formation of identities. It should be clear by now that varieties of AborE provide their speakers with an invaluable tool for the creation of a distinct cultural identity. What is more, this identity may involve a strong element of social proximity or distance. In 6.4.3 we have noted that speakers of AborE may deliberately employ stress and intonation, lexicosemantics, and pragmatic features to exclude Anglo-Australian speakers and the above discussion has detailed how exactly the use of particular lexical features assists in the exclusion of those who do not share the same experience, ascertaining that only cultural insiders can fully participate in the conversation. Meanwhile, the same items allow speakers to promote an inclusive identity that requires a strengthening of bonds between group members and shows the desire to distinguish oneself and those around one from others. In 378 6.4.3 we have further quoted Kaldor & Malcolm who suggest that AborE provides its speakers with a “feeling of belonging and warmth with persons with whom one shares a linguistic and cultural heritage” (2004: 81). By stressing the cohesion within a community of speakers, appropriation of the standard dialect can in fact help to consolidate the individual’s social identity, that is, the part of a speaker’s self-concept which is based on his or her membership in a particular social group and the resulting distinction from the out-group (see for example Tajfel & Turner 1979, 1986). While this is arguably a general characteristic of social and ethnic dialects of English which comprise many characteristics that distinguish their speakers from non-members of this particular group, it is the lexical reinforcements of solidarity, mutual respect, and a shared experience that appear to have great value for the formation of social identities, more so than features in other domains of language use. The value of the non-standard dialect for the creation of inclusive, groupcentred identity is also emphasised by the emotional content inherent in many single- or multi-word insertions: many of the items that ‘replace’ existing English lexemes function to cloak concepts of a delicate or intimate nature or cushion painful memories or harsh realities by providing more allusive verbal expressions. In the Australian plays, this is most apparent in those terms that relate to the effects of colonisation or constitute descriptions of private body parts or physical weaknesses and mental instability, i.e. appropriations that evoke strong feelings of fear, pain, or embarrassment that speakers wish to obscure for cultural outsiders. A similar tendency to relate to this category by means of Indigenous language words can be observed in the New Zealand text Purapurawhet which exhibits the M ori items nono(s) ‘backside, behind’ and p rangi ‘be insane, mad, crazy, mentally ill’. The Canadian play The Rez Sisters does not reveal any such features but still makes use of Cree and Ojibway to communicate personal sentiments such as Pelajia, een-pay-seek-see-yan ‘Pelajia, I'm scared to death’ in a code which is only accessible for those who share the necessary linguistic knowledge. Indigenous languages further provide an outlet for emotions in outbursts such as au ‘oh dear!’ and e hika ‘good heavens!’ ‘far out!’, but also exclamations of ‘shame’ as in wurrah and choo. The negative impact of governmental control on the lives of Indigenous people, major tools for the creation of an inclusive identity in the Australian plays, is less visible in Purapurawhet and The Rez Sisters even though the item Rez in some way parallels the experience of forced relocation and regulation of people’s lives that is inherent in terms such as mission. The use of abbreviations such as mish and Rez in this context transports a certain familiarity which undermines the authority and severity of the concepts, signalling that these can also be associated with feelings of community. Other lexical appropriations which aid the creation of an insider code are those that describe different forms of human relationships and social interac- 379 tion. We have already discussed various AborE items that foster friendly relations between the characters, such as modgeee ‘friend’, ‘mate’, ‘companion’, ‘comrade’ or address older people in a respectful manner, acknowledging their cultural wisdom and status in the community, e.g. moodjarng ‘elder’, ‘old gentleman’. This list could be expanded by M ori words that serve a comparable function and portray norms of showing respect for elders, e.g. kaum tua ‘elder, ‘elderly man’, ‘elderly woman’, ‘old man’, a person of status within the wh nau ‘extended family’. Group identity can also be derived from the use of English lexemes which express very similar concepts, e.g. old girl, old fellow or from English kinship terms which are certainly the most commonly employed lexical tools promoting group solidarity, and thus identity. Hence, the lexical items from the conceptual domains of kinship and social interaction reveal a dual function: while they evoke culture-specific categories and schemas not shared with Standard English, they also produce a feeling of familiarity and intimacy between those interacting and allow speakers to express a set of shared values. All this enables the individuals to reinforce their membership in a group which is represented as a closely-knit unit, to foster notions of gemeinschaft, and to distinguish themselves from the out-group. In addition, post-colonial contexts or environments in which a minority group coexists with a (usually white) mainstream society provide situations of unbalanced and unequal power hierarchies. Thus, whenever speakers feel the need to assert themselves against other, more dominant forces, solidarity terms can provide a medium of resistance against those in power and also trigger a positive identification of one’s social group. The most obvious ‘us-them’ distinction made by means of lexical appropriation, however, is that of contrasting black and white people. The coloured/white distinction also underlies appropriations such as coconut or apple Indian which criticise the denial of one’s heritage and the set of values shared by the community, a type of behaviour which threatens group unity. The nonidentification with the Indigenous community in situations of in-group communication becomes further evident in the idea of talking flash. In the introduction to chapter 6, we have stated that AborE provides speakers with “an alternative identity-bearing form of communication” (Malcolm 2013: 44) in a situation in which an increasing number of Aboriginal languages have become extinct. Meeting their communicative needs, the dialect has developed into a tool for the expression of a distinct cultural as well as social identity. The items defined as instances of lexical appropriation in the drama texts underline this role of the dialect as an identity-bearing form of communication as they exemplify how Aboriginal cultural and social identities are maintained and developed further. Recalling Raines (1991: 102) statement on the use of Aboriginal varieties of English as a literary language quoted in 7.3, that AborE is not capable “of fully expressing the diversities of Abo- 380 riginal experience without distortion”, we can reply that quite on the contrary, the dialect is very well equipped to fulfil exactly this task. The corpus analysis has shown how Aboriginal authors adapt the ‘language of the center’ to communicate meanings and concepts that are embedded in an Aboriginal world view and both maintain and transmit knowledge of cultural and religious tradition, rules of behaviour, kinship structures, and environmental knowhow. In addition, the appropriation of the standard dialect allows them to negotiate the experience of colonisation and express contemporary ideas of Aboriginality. What is more, it favours the formation of a distinct identity which may involve one or more of the following elements: 1. The indexation of a broader, more general Aboriginal Australian identity by means of resorting to AborE lexical elements that allow for the identification as Aboriginal person and convey aspects of this heritage and cultural experience without specifying a particular cultural or linguistic affiliation. 2. The indexation of a regional or local identity: The affiliation with a particular geographic area and one or more language/culture groups, expressed through the use of lexical items which have regional or local currency. 3. The indexation of group identity: This type of group identity is manifested in a collective history and shared experience, a similar lifestyle, and a shared understanding of the world and of particular codes of behaviour. Employing features of AborE in their texts, Australian playwrights contribute to a wider recognition of Aboriginal modes of speaking within the mainstream society and affirm their status as viable and legitimate codes in their own right. They assert the authority of the dialect as well as that of the concepts that are communicated. Both concepts and the lexical means used to express them are presented to a wider, mostly Euro-Australian audience and disseminated among speakers of the standard dialect. Australian Aboriginal drama thus not only portrays present-day Aboriginal society and a cultural heritage that exhibits a non-static and highly diverse nature. It is an instrument that helps to achieve a better understanding of the semantics of the country’s most widely used ethnic dialect also outside academic circles and introduces the non-Aboriginal community to a different set of socio-cultural realities, triggering a form of cross-cultural communication.

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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.