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5 Contact-Induced Changes to the Traditional LanguageEcology in:

Katja Lenz

Lexical Appropriation in Australian Aboriginal Literature, page 61 - 82

1. Edition 2017, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-3964-9, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-6743-7, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828867437-61

Tectum, Baden-Baden
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61 5 Contact-Induced Changes to the Traditional Language Ecology In the previous chapter, we have discussed the impact which the English language had on Australia’s original language ecology. Summing up, we can state that British colonisation caused considerable changes, destroying a large number of Aboriginal languages and restricting the status and functions of those that were maintained while at the same time producing a number of contact varieties, many of which sooner or later disappeared again. Still, a few of the contact varieties have survived on the long run and developed into important languages which have contributed to the formation of a new Aboriginal language ecology. In this chapter, then, we will contemplate the social and political processes which have led to the emergence of these modern varieties. The British colonisation of the Australian continent resulted in massive changes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that affected every conceivable domain of their lives. In the following, the often devastating effects of the European invasion on pre-contact social organisation, culture, and languages will be summarised in order to achieve a better understanding of the multiple ways in which these ultimately triggered the disruption of the original Australian language ecology. The remainder of this chapter will deal with the major linguistic developments that have followed the introduction of the English language in Australia, focusing on the emergence of English-based contact varieties which were a result of early contact between European colonists and the Aboriginal population. Finally, we will discuss the status of these new Aboriginal languages and their role within the modern language ecology. Note that the following chapters are largely concerned with processes and events on the Australian mainland. 5.1 Sociohistorical Effects of Contact Mühlhäusler (1996a: 11f) summarises the drastic consequences which British invasion had in store for Australia’s Indigenous population: a. The importation and (sometimes deliberate) spread of diseases lead to a considerable decline of the Aboriginal population, severely reducing the size of individual language groups. In some cases, entire languages died with their speakers. b. The displacement of Aboriginal groups from their territories into less fertile areas meant that Aboriginal people became highly dependent on 62 European support for survival. Former patterns of Aboriginal intergroup trade were replaced by trade with the colonists, which required new forms of cross-cultural and linguistic contact. c. Due to the displacement from their traditional land, Aboriginal groups were forced into contact with other groups to which they never had had any previous connection. This frequently resulted in violent conflict. d. Forced settlement on missions and government stations, too, brought about contact between formerly distant Aboriginal groups. e. Assimilation policies and the ways in which these were implemented, especially the dormitory system, caused the separation of children from their parents, effectively stopping intergenerational language transmission. In boarding schools, the children received education in English. f. Patterns of intergenerational language transmission were further weakened by the employment of male Aboriginal labourers in the pastoral and maritime industries, away from their communities. g. Government and Church-run education in English usually transported negative attitudes towards Aboriginal languages. h. The abduction of (mostly Tasmanian) Aboriginal women weakened the structures of Aboriginal society. As the colonisation of the Australian continent proceeded from the southwest, these developments and their effects were visible first in the southern half of Australia. However, with the expansion of colonisation, they spread throughout the entire country. Much of what has been described was a direct or indirect result of varying Government policies implemented at different periods of time. These included policies of protection, segregation, and assimilation. To obtain a clearer idea of the different attitudes and policies that prevailed, it may be helpful to present them in a rough chronological order which is based on Leitner (2007: 199f). Even though he cautions that history cannot always be neatly divided into clear-cut periods and that “[…] indeed some policies and approaches to contact continued to be practised well into the 20th century”, he divides the last 225 years of contact between Europeans and Aboriginal people into five major periods: 1. 17th century to early 19th century: peripheral contact by explorers. 2. First settlement to the 1840s: lack of explicit policies. 3. 1840s to the early decades of the 20th century: policies of protection and segregation. 4. Until 1960s: Policies of assimilation and segregation of children of mixed descent. 63 5. From 1970s onward (with forerunners already in the 1920s): limited self-development and self-control. 5.1.1 The Early Period of European Colonisation When the British installed themselves at Sydney Cove, this was not the first encounter between the Aboriginal population and foreigners. But the British arriving in 1788 intended to stay permanently and to settle and harness the land, ignorant of its original inhabitants and the territories these occupied. British invasion thus created a situation which inevitably led to conflict and hostilities between the colonisers and the country’s original inhabitants. Leitner (2006: 22f) suggests that this development was largely due to the fact that the Australian continent was settled for economic reasons. At first, the colonisation of Australia provided a welcome way to reduce the number of prisoners in the overcrowded British prisons, and for several decades, Australia became the new destination for convicts. After 1820, however, the number of free colonists increased and geographic expansion opened up new areas for pastoral ventures. What these demanded most was land – land that was occupied by Aboriginal groups which were soon driven out of their territories. Prior to his departure for Australia, Captain Arthur Phillip, first Governor of NSW (1788-1795) had received the Crown’s order, to [...] endeavour by every possible means to open an intercourse with the natives, and to conciliate their affections, enjoining all our subjects to live in amity and kindness with them. (Commonwealth of Australia, Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament 1914. HRA series 1, vol. 1: 13) Still, the first violent conflicts would arise soon after the establishment of the colony. “Good intentions clashed with the order to possess, to dominate and to colonise” (Broome 2010: 22) on the part of the colonisers. Even though communication between Europeans and Aboriginal people was eventually established, conflicts would continue, fuelled by the British taking Eora11 land rather than by a lack of communication (Leitner 2006: 24). In the following years, however, contact between the two parties was due to increase. As European colonisation continued, violence at the frontier increased. Further settlements were established from the 1790s on, and initially, these occupied only small tracts of land so that there was little conflict between the colonists and the local Aboriginal population. When colonisation expanded, 11 There is some uncertainty as to the correct naming of the people who lived in the area of the first colony. Broome (2010: 15) argues that the Eora were “the original owners of the foreshore that became Sydney” and explains that “[t]hey and adjoining groups, the Dharuk (of which the Eora were an Eastern part), Kuringgai and the Dahrawal, formed the 3000 interlinked Aboriginal people of the Cumberland Plain, which stretched to the Blue Mountains”. 64 hostilities broke out between the two groups competing over land and resources (Connor 2002: 33f). However, while guerrilla warfare went on at the colony’s boundaries, many of those whose land had been taken began to move into Sydney, becoming dependent on the invaders for support (Troy 1990: 14). The 1820s saw the beginning of the wool boom and by 1850, a quarter of a million immigrants had reached Australia, drastically speeding up frontier expansion. Australia experienced “a fantastic land grab that was unique in world history” and by 1860, 4000 squatters and about twenty million sheep occupied a more than 400 million hectare area from southern Queensland to South Australia (Broome 2010: 37f). Under increasing pressure due to the loss of their land and food resources, the increasing influx of colonists, the effects of diseases, and the frontier violence, a growing number of Aboriginal people were faced with a limited set of options, i.e. to intrude the lands of other tribal groups, to move into missions, or to become fringe dwellers living in camps near towns, settlements, or pastoral stations (Leitner 2006:24). 5.1.2 Protection and Segregation and the Advent of Missions The perceived need to ‘civilise’ Aboriginal people through education and Christianisation culminated in the establishment of various government or church-run institutions. The first boarding school, the Native Institution was created in Parramatta in 1814, introducing the dormitory system under which generations of children had to endure the separation from their parents and communities12. Further missions followed from 1820 onward and were aimed at educating children while the adults were employed as farm workers or received (very) basic professional training. The missions’ main objective, however, was to Christianise the Aboriginal population. Still, attempts at converting adults were often prone to fail as most Aboriginal people rejected the beliefs and morals of the missionaries who, after all, formed part of the colonisers’ society. Aware of these attitudes, missionaries usually focused their efforts on children. For that purpose, parents were persuaded (or otherwise forced) to place their children in the dormitories (Broome 2010: 29ff, 153f). Whereas in the early periods, Aboriginal people still had the choice to leave the missions, this ended with the increasing influx of colonists and rising numbers of pastoralists who occupied their land. The actual conditions in the different missions could vary enormously, as Broome (2010: 153) explains: “[...] missions, like the convict system could be a lottery in which mis- 12 Broome (2010: 29) suggests that the establishment of the Parramatta Native Institution in fact already marks the beginning of Australia’s assimilation policies since the dormitory system initiated the systematic separation of children from their parents to prevent the transmission of linguistic and cultural knowledge and educate the children according to Christian beliefs. 65 sionaries might be humanitarians or tyrants. Convicts could at least complain to the courts, a right Aboriginal people on missions were denied”. The same period also saw the introduction of policies of protection, initially in an attempt to shield Aboriginal people from increasing violence. Apart from the violent conflict with individual colonists, Aboriginal people had to deal with increasing and relentless commercial pastoralism. The companies engaged in the pastoral expansion frequently took brutal measures to ensure access to land, yet another factor in the rapid decline of the Aboriginal population (Leitner 2004c: 38). The answer to the problem was sought in establishing the office of the ‘Protector of Aborigines’ whose task was to “move with Aboriginal people, learn their language, and protect them from injustice and guard their country” (Broome 2010: 52). However, these goals were rarely realised. The increasing European demand for land made the protection of Aboriginal territory impossible and protectors soon established permanent protectorate stations where life for Aboriginal people became increasingly regulated. The instalment of the protectors started a period of physical and social control and initiated extensive relocation to government reserves (Leitner 2007: 200). Segregation, then, was the result of these protectionist policies that relocated the Aboriginal population on reserves of land generally considered ‘wasteland’, unsuitable for farming, and separated from European settlements. The reserves were created and abandoned at random and inhabitants forced to relocate (Leitner 2006: 29). Missions and reserves exercised a substantial amount of control over their ‘inmates’, regulating almost all aspects of life and ripping apart families, thereby weakening existing social structures. The repeated relocation further separated the people from their ancestral territories, thus severing the bond between land, people, and language. This had immense consequences for the traditional language ecology since speech communities were disrupted and language contact with neighbouring groups was impeded (Leitner 2004c: 72). At the same time, the forced separation of parents and children was a crucial factor in the expansion of pidgins and forms of AborE and generally promoted the spread of English. Fesl (1994: 195ff) provides a detailed record of missions, reserves, and stations in Australia. She lists 104 mission stations and schools, along with 307 reserves, stations, and government settlements. Many of these were still operating in the second half of the 20th century. The life as fringe-dwellers and employment on cattle stations provided an alternative to the highly regulated life on missions and in reserves, one that would allow for maintaining (part of) the original lifestyle so that traditional languages were more likely to be preserved. Still, also in these contexts, the contact situation helped the development of pidgins and creoles (Leitner 2007: 201). 66 Violent conflict, the disruption of pre-colonial lifestyles and society, diseases, and low nutrition and health standards caused the Aboriginal population to dwindle rapidly. Leitner (2006: 28) reports that by the end of the 19th century, about 150,000 Aboriginal people were still alive, but in 1930 the number had gone down to about 70,000. Thus, the work of missions was seen as a ‘humanitarian act’, meant to prevent or at least slow down the population decline (Leitner 2004b: 38). 5.1.3 Assimilation Strategies Aboriginal Protection Boards continued to control the lives of the Aboriginal population in the southern parts of Australia well into the second half of the 20th century. The boards specified where Aboriginal people were allowed to live and work, restricted their freedom of movement, exerted tight control over their finances, and had the power to remove children from their families and communities (Armitage 1995: 18). In the 1930s, policies of protection and segregation were gradually replaced by policies of assimilation and integration. While under earlier government policies, Aboriginal people had been forced to abandon their lands and were relocated on reserves, the new strategies aimed at their assimilation into white society, and Aboriginal families were pressed to settle in urban environments. The continued separation of children from their families was another strategy to increase assimilation (Armidale 1994: 19f). When the Aboriginal population did not die out as had been expected, attempts were undertaken to assimilate children of mixed descent who were removed from the reserves and separated even further from their parents, often for good. These children, now known as the ‘Stolen Generations’, were compelled to live with foster families and in training homes. Such assimilation strategies proved to be doubly rewarding: apprenticeship schemes ensured that the Aboriginal children provided cheap labour (Broome 2010: 96, 172ff), while the separation from their families and communities lead to an alienation from their culture, and, most importantly, triggered the shift to English. Forced intermarriage with Europeans was to further reduce the number of ‘full-blood’ Aboriginal people (Leitner 2006: 30). The removal of Aboriginal children reached its peak in the period between 1940 and 1968. It cannot be said with certainty how many children were removed; the Bringing Them Home report (Wilkie 1997) suggests that the numbers range somewhere between one in ten and one in three Aboriginal children in the period between 1910 and 1970. Broome (2010: 215) suggests that between 1899 and 1968, 10,000 children were removed in NSW alone and estimates that in the entire country, more than 50,000 children may have been affected. 67 5.1.4 Aboriginal Resistance and Self-Control Although many of the events that promoted the emancipation of the Aboriginal population occurred in the second half of the last century, the foundation for resistance was already laid during the periods of protection and segregation. In the early decades of the 20th century, opposing forces were fighting for dominance in the domain of Aboriginal affairs. On the one hand, authorities increased their control over the Aboriginal population by removing children from their parents, settling Aboriginal people in reserves, and dictating conditions of labour; Aboriginal Protection Acts were severely restricting people’s daily lives. At the same time, black and white activists began to fight for civil rights. White activist groups formed in the 1930s, and women’s groups had already become concerned with Aboriginal matters in the 1920s (Broome 2010: 195ff). Neither the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia nor Aboriginal participation in the South African War had brought any changes for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Many Aboriginal soldiers who had joined the Australian forces to fight in WWI were frustrated to see that despite their service for the Australian society, treatment of Aboriginal people did not improve and policies of segregation continued. At the same time, the war had promoted a change in public attitude, and the Australian society began to resent the ongoing bad treatment of Aboriginal people (Leitner 2006: 30). Aboriginal opposition finally started to form in the 1920s with the foundation of several associations fighting for Aboriginal rights (Broome 2010: 205). The following years saw tentative steps towards an improvement in the treatment of the Aboriginal population (Leitner 2006: 31), and in the following decades, the political and public climate became increasingly sensitive towards Aboriginal issues. In the 1960s, finally, the continuing struggle of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal activists and groups effected a removal of discriminatory policies and Aboriginal people were finally given the right to vote in federal elections (Broome 2010: 217ff). A major step on the way to equality and self-determination was the 1967 referendum. On 27 May 1967, 90.77% of the Australian population voted for amendments to the Constitution which made Aboriginal people subject to Commonwealth legislation (abolishing previous State legislation) and allowed for Indigenous Australians to be counted in the census (National Archives of Australia 2015). These events finally granted Aboriginal Australians the right to self-organisation, political representation, and the liberty to freely choose a place of residence. Leitner (2006: 32) explains that the result, however, was a massive move to the metropolitan areas that was accompanied by the for- 68 mation of ghettoes, increasing unemployment, and further disruption of the bond to the land. Within the same period, land rights became an issue in the north of the country, and Aboriginal groups began to struggle for recognition of the title to their tribal lands. An often quoted example of public protest is the Aboriginal Tent Embassy that was established on 26 January 1972 in order to call for progress in land rights issues. On 3 June 1992, Australia finally witnessed a landmark decision when The High Court of Australia delivered a judgement in the Mabo case that rejected the concept of terra nullius and recognised the Meriam claimants’ right to their land. The decision provided the basis for the 1993 Native Title Act (Broome 2010: 227ff, 284ff). The year 1980, then, can be seen as the onset of the period of multiculturalism which lasted until about 1995. Aboriginal concerns became a matter of political interest in the fields of social, educational and language policies. Political activism went hand in hand with the formation of a broader Aboriginal intellectual elite (Leitner 2006: 34f). In May 1997, the Bringing Them Home report documented the dimension of Australian Aboriginal child removal practices. One year later, on 26 May 1998, the first national Sorry Day was held in response to the findings of the report. In 2005, the day was renamed National Day of Healing and has since become an annual event, with marches, speeches and other activities around the country. On 13 February 2008, Kevin Rudd, the then Australian Prime Minister, finally made a formal apology to the Stolen Generations in parliament, an act that the former PM, John Howard, had continuously refused (Australian Government 2015). 5.2 Linguistic Effects of Contact: Post-1788 Contact Varieties Mühlhäusler (1996a: 11) explains that isolated language ecologies such as the Australian one which developed over a time period of more than 40,000 years are extremely vulnerable to sudden outside contact. From the early days of colonisation, the complex linguistic network formed by the Australian languages was affected by the presence of the British and their language which created a situation that forced the Aboriginal population to rapidly adjust to new social and linguistic demands. While the early English-based contact languages developed from the need for communication between Aboriginal people and the British arrivals, they were soon also adopted as tools for intracultural communication (Leitner 1996: 235). Many of the newly formed contact varieties did not last, but some have developed into primary languages that are spoken by large Aboriginal communities. The present chapter is intended to provide an overview of the processes that have led to the formation of the 69 post-contact Australian Aboriginal language ecology, that is, we will sketch the developmental paths of Kriol, the major Australian creole variety, as well as that of the ethnic varieties of English commonly referred to as ‘Aboriginal English’. The first stable Australian English-based contact variety, NSW Pidgin English, which can be considered “the ancestor of all other English-based pidgins in Australia” (Mühlhäusler 2004: 170), will serve as a starting point from which we will proceed to describing the emergence of later varieties. On arrival in Australia, the British were unaware of the rich linguistic landscape that existed in this country and the intricate communication networks formed by the Aboriginal languages and dialects. Early attempts to communicate with the Aboriginal population of the Port Jackson area relied on the use of a list of Guugu Yimidhirr terms, a language spoken in the north of Queensland. The word list, which had been compiled by Captain Cook on his 1770 expedition to the Endeavour River, was of little use at Port Jackson; one of the major accomplishments resulting from its use was that the colonists unintentionally introduced the term kangaroo to the Sydney people who adopted the term in the belief they had been taught an English word. The early colonists remained ignorant of Australia’s linguistic diversity for a considerable period of time and it took them several years to recognise that the land they occupied was home to more than one language group (Troy 1993: 43). Not all contact varieties that existed or still exist in Australia arose from contact with the British colonists and Aboriginal people and not all of them are English-based. As we have seen above, Aboriginal lingue franche and koinés developed in some places. Other varieties developed as the result of contact between Aboriginal and non-European peoples, such as the Macassan pidgin of the trepang trade or the WA Broome Pearling Lugger Pidgin of the pearling industry (Walsh 1993a: 7), or emerged as other non-European people came in touch with the English language, e.g. the Queensland Kanaka English that developed as the pidgin of the Queensland sugar plantations from the 1860s on (Mühlhäusler 1996d: 74ff). Since the discussion of these varieties is outside the scope of the present work, they will only be treated with reference to the development of the major English-based contact languages discussed below. The same holds for those English-based varieties that did not survive in the long run. For more information on the topic see for example Wurm et al. (1996). Mühlhäusler (2004) provides an overview of Australian pidgins and creoles. The developmental process of Torres Strait Creole will also not be treated here as the remainder of the present thesis is primarily concerned with language varieties spoken by Aboriginal people on the Australian mainland. 70 5.2.1 The Sydney Jargon and NSW Pidgin English New South Wales Pidgin has played a crucial role in the history of Australian contact languages. The first English-based contact language to emerge on Australian soil has greatly influenced the development of many other pidgin and creole varieties of Australia. In fact, Amery & Mühlhäusler (1996: 33) argue that the pidgin which came into being in the early years of colonisation as a lingua franca between the colonisers and the Aboriginal population around Sydney “has given rise directly to the majority of pidgins and creoles that have ever been spoken in Australia since 1788, with the possible exception of the pidgin spoken in Bass Strait and pidgins spoken in various locations in Western Australia”. With the expansion of the colony and the incessantly moving pastoral frontier, the new variety was carried into most of the continent, creating a family of related pidgins and becoming a major influence on the Australian post-contact language ecology. When in January 1788 the First Fleet landed at Botany Bay, first attempts of contact between the British newcomers and Aboriginal people involved the use of gestures and “simple verbal exchanges” (Troy 1993: 33). At Port Jackson, the site of the first colony, early communication between the two parties mainly involved obtaining information that would progress the establishment of the colony. When the Aboriginal population of the area13 developed the habit of keeping away from the Europeans, Phillip felt compelled to kidnap members of the local Aboriginal community in order to establish contact. Bennelong, one of the kidnapees who displayed considerable linguistic skill, played a crucial role in the formation of the first contact variety between colonists and Aboriginal people. After spending several months among the colonists, he assumed the role of an ambassador upon returning to his people, informing the Aboriginal population about the colonisers and their language. With Bennelong’s assistance, renewed interaction between the British and the local Aboriginal people was established (Troy 1993: 40ff). The thus emerging early contact language had the character of an unstable jargon, but a continuing influx of Aboriginal people into the colony guaranteed regular communication between the two groups and communication 13 Troy (1990) refers to the traditional Aboriginal language of the Indigenous population of the Sydney district simply as the “Sydney language”. Dixon et al. (2006) provides Dharuk as the name for the variety spoken in the Port Jackson area. According to Moore (2008), the use of the term Dharuk is controversial since it was not recorded until a century after the establishment of the first settlement and possibly refers to a language spoken further inland from Port Jackson. The name Eora, initially recorded as a name of a people, has been suggested as an alternative. According to Troy (1994: 9), there is evidence that there were at least two dialects of the Sydney language. The term Eora has been used to refer to the coastal dialect of the Sydney language while Dharuk has been used to refer to either the entire Sydney language or the inland dialect. 71 patterns eventually began to stabilise (Troy 1993: 41), preparing the ground for the development of New South Wales Pidgin, which emerged between 1793 and 1804 as a “particularly Aboriginal response to a new situation” (Amery & Mühlhäusler 1996: 37). In its early jargon stage, the NSW contact language was mainly based on English and the language of the Port Jackson Aboriginal population and appears to have been highly influenced by the lexical and syntactic features of the latter. Sydney soon became a major port in the Pacific and southern oceans, and the colony developed into a “linguistic melting pot with many different Aboriginal languages and a variety of European languages and dialects of English” (Amery & Mühlhäusler 1996: 38). The South Seas Jargon, a 19th century Pacific contact variety and predecessor of the Pacific Pidgin English, is assumed to have made further important contributions to the formation of the NSW contact variety. With the increasing influence of the South Seas Jargon and English, the Aboriginal input into the new language gradually decreased (Amery & Mühlhäusler 1996: 36ff). Unfamiliar with the Australian landscape and Aboriginal culture, colonists frequently questioned Aboriginal people about terms to describe flora and fauna as well as aspects of their lifestyle. The Aboriginal population, on the other hand, had to find ways to refer to a multitude of concepts hitherto unknown to them. Both aspects influenced the formation of the NSW Pidgin lexicon which relied on lexical borrowings from the Sydney language as well as on new coinages. Many of the lexical items that were used in NSW Pidgin have also entered Australian English (Troy 1993: 47). When Aboriginal population numbers in the Sydney area declined, so did the use of the local language. According to Troy (1994: 5), the Sydney language was extinguished by the late 19th or early 20th century. Its remnants, however, are still visible in many of the varieties that form the post-contact Aboriginal language ecology and, to some extent, also in Australian English where features of the extinct NSW contact language remain in the form of loanwords. 5.2.2 Colonial Expansion and the Spread of NSW Pidgin English Amery & Mühlhäusler (1996: 38f) suggest that NSW Pidgin was well established by 1804, and in the following years it developed into an important tool not only for communication between colonists and the Aboriginal population but also, and more importantly, between speakers of different Aboriginal languages. With the expansion of the colony, the pidgin spread into further parts of NSW and became the colony’s lingua franca. Soon after the foundation of the penal colony at Sydney Cove, the British proceeded inland, driven by the wish to explore land suitable for settlement and find food resources which the coastal areas could not provide. The de- 72 mand for land increased with the influx of free colonists that began in the 1820s and the presence of agricultural companies that opened up large areas for pastoral purposes (Troy 1990: 32ff). The wool boom further boosted the need for land and soon “it was clear that settlement in Australia could not be confined within any boundary” (Troy 1990: 35). This left the Aboriginal population with a limited number of options. One was to retreat from the advancing pastoral frontier by moving into the territories of other Aboriginal groups with whom there had been no previous contact and whose language was unfamiliar to them. The other option was to stay and find ways to cope with the presence of the colonists. Hence, in the course of colonial expansion, the processes that had led to the emergence of the Sydney contact language were repeated elsewhere when the arrival of the colonisers generated a situation which forced the original inhabitants of the land to adapt to new living patterns, promoting a context which supported the adoption and maintenance of the pidgin. The developing NSW Pidgin was carried further inland by the moving frontier, and when more and more Aboriginal groups became affected by colonial expansion, its use also increased within the Aboriginal community (Troy 1990: 36ff). When transported beyond the boundaries of what is now New South Wales, NSW Pidgin localised in different parts of the country, and in due course, a chain of related pidgin varieties emerged which stretched throughout the colonised areas. Contact with local Aboriginal languages in these areas added new items to its lexicon and we can assume some degree of relexification. Nonetheless, many of the original Sydney lexical features were preserved (Tryon & Charpentier 2004: 224). While the NSW contact language expanded into further areas of the continent, its use in the south-east decreased with the consolidation of the settled areas in NSW where it was quickly replaced by English (Amery & Mühlhäusler 1996: 42). Queensland then took over the formative role previously assumed by the locus of the first colony. Movement into what was to become Queensland began in 1823, and by 1859 a stable and standardised pidgin that was unmistakably based on NSW Pidgin had developed (Tryon & Charpentier 2004: 71ff). This Queensland NSW Pidgin-based contact variety was transmitted north- and eastwards, travelling along northern and eastern communication routes. It thus provided the base for Cape York Creole and Palm Island Aboriginal English and was a major catalyst in the formation of Northern Territory Kriol (Malcolm 2001a: 213). NSW Pidgin was simultaneously carried southwards to presentday Victoria and from there eastwards to South Australia where colonisation began in 1836 with the arrival of the first colonists directly from England. Once the colony of South Australia had been formed, stock was moved into the state from Victoria and NSW and the Aboriginal stockmen arriving with the overland parties brought with them the NSW Pidgin. In South Australia, the pidg- 73 in gave rise to Nunga English, used in the southern areas between the 1840s and 1890s, and to cattle station English, used in the northern parts from the 1920s onwards (Amery & Mühlhäusler 1996: 44ff). From the second half of the 19th century on, South Australia may also have played a role in the pidgin’s spread north and westwards when an overland telegraph from Adelaide to Darwin and a railway line between Sydney and Perth were constructed (Leitner 2004b: 76). Map 3. The Spread of NSW Pidgin (adapted from Munro 2001: 260). Munro maps the movement of the pastoral industry which carried NSW Pidgin along its stock routes. Her map has been adapted to account for the spread of NSW Pidgin into South Australia (arrows with dotted lines). Western Australian contact varieties appear to have developed independently from the expansion of NSW Pidgin and its descendants. By the time the NSW contact language would have diffused into Western Australia, a Nyoongah Pidgin English variety was already in use in the south-west (Amery & Mühlhäusler 1996: 46) and there is only tentative evidence for an earlier NSW influence, even though neither Amery & Mühlhäusler (1996) nor Malcolm (2001a) want to rule it out completely. 74 5.2.3 The Birth of Northern Territory Kriol NSW Pidgin entered the Northern Territory in the second half of the 19th century when colonists arrived from the south and the pastoral frontier pushed into the state from Queensland in the 1870s (Harris 1986: 149ff). The first permanent settlement in the Northern Territory, however, was established in the area of today’s Darwin. Officially founded in 1870, Darwin gained early significance through the construction of the Overland Telegraph and the discovery of gold deposits. With the influx of the gold diggers, the town continuously expanded and the local Aboriginal population was deprived of their land and forced to a life on the fringes of the European settlements (Harris 1986: 161ff). The emerging Darwin pidgin was fed by the contact varieties that had developed during earlier attempts to establish military settlements in the Northern Territory and by the contact language of the Darwin survey camp (Harris 2007: 141). In addition, with the arrival of colonists from NSW, South Australia, and Queensland, NSW Pidgin and its South Australian and Queensland successors were transported into the Northern Territory (Mühlhäusler 1996b: 124). The Darwin pidgin subsequently spread through the Northern Territory and beyond state boundaries. At the same time, the pastoral frontier was relentlessly making its way across Australia. Its language was the Pastoral Pidgin English, another descendant of the NSW contact language (Harris 1986: 182). In the 1870s, the pastoral frontier started to spread from Queensland into the Northern Territory and the Kimberly region of Western Australia, transporting the NSW Pidgin-based variety north into these regions. Together with the Darwin pidgin, this variety provided the basis for a new Aboriginal language that was to develop at Roper River, a region in the northeast of the Northern Territory (Harris 2007: 142ff). Europeans had started to come into the Roper River region with the construction of the Overland Telegraph in the 1870s. In the following years, cattle drives commenced when the pastoral frontier moved north, cattle stations were established and a township came into existence at Roper Bar, a crossing of the Roper River (Harris 1993: 147). The degree of mobility of both the Aboriginal and European population within the region led to the convergence of the different pidgin varieties that were in use in the Northern Territory, their common ancestry facilitating this fusion into one variety (Harris 2004: 199). By the turn of the century, the widely-understood pidgin that Harris (1986) terms ‘Northern Territory Pidgin English’ had emerged. It has already been indicated that the history of European colonisation of Australia is also a history of violence against the Aboriginal population. While hostilities and aggression were a common phenomenon of colonisation in Australia, the degree of violence in the Northern Territory clearly exceeded 75 everything experienced before. When the first cattle stations were established and pastoralists settled permanently in the Northern Territory from the 1880s onwards, Aboriginal resistance to the intrusion of their land was finally broken and Aboriginal people were ‘settled down’ at the stations. The thus created institutionalised contact between Europeans, Aboriginal people, and Chinese labourers contributed to the development of various cattle station pidgins. Life as fringe-dwellers on the margins of towns provided one of the few alternatives to station life. Here, contact involved the same participants as on the stations (Harris 1986: 184ff, 200-212). Violence in the Roper River region reached another climax when the London-based Eastern and African Cold Storage Company began to establish an enormous pastoral empire from Roper River into Arnhem Land and sent out hunting parties with the aim to remove all the Aboriginal residents from the region. Their actions annihilated almost the entire Aboriginal population of the area (Harris 1986: 226). As a reply to the massacres, the Anglican Church established a mission at Roper River (now Ngukurr), which immediately acquired the status of a place of refuge for the remaining people in the area (Harris 2007: 143). In 1909, one year after its foundation, the mission gave shelter to more than 200 persons from eight different language groups (Harris 1986: 235). While the multilingual adults were able to overcome communication problems in the new environment, the approximately 70 children on the mission, separated for most of the time from their parents through the dormitory system, formed the new community that was in immediate need of a common primary language. In the new social and cultural context, traditional ways of language acquisition had been disrupted. Anyway, the acquisition of traditional languages, like the acquisition of Standard English, would have taken too long to meet the urgent communicative demands, so that the pidgin used in communication between Aboriginal people and Europeans became the obvious choice for a common language (Harris 1986: 306ff). A pidgin variety, however, could not entirely satisfy the new community’s complex communicative needs, and under the influence of the English the children were exposed to at school the pidgin variety underwent creolisation (Harris 2007: 144). Despite the missionaries’ efforts to establish Standard English, Kriol was created and continuously developed. In the following years, further Kriol varieties emerged also elsewhere in the Northern Territory and under different circumstances. Loci of creole genesis include the Kimberley cattle stations and the army camps erected during World War II (Harris 2004: 202). In 4.2.1, we have already indicated that there is some debate about whether the different forms of Kriol should be classified as instances of local variation or must be seen as varieties of their own. According to Harris (2007: 145), the different northern creoles have now merged into one widely-used variety that exhibits local variation. Shnukal 76 (1988b: 155f), however, distinguishes two regional Kriol dialects, i.e. an eastern dialect, usually referred to as ‘Roper River Kriol’ and a western dialect, Fitzroy Valley Kriol, spoken in the Kimberley region of West Australia. The latter had developed at Halls Creek, Western Australia, and by the 1940s was used as the primary language of the Aboriginal population of the area. From what we have described above, it should be clear that the variety’s development is marked by a comparatively low exposure to English, and many of Kriol’s distinguishing features evidence the influence from Aboriginal languages and the northern contact varieties in use in the early 20th century (see for example Leitner (2004b) or Sandefur (2004) for a feature analysis of Kriol). NSW Pidgin was a major source for the lexicon of Kriol: we find lexical items from NSW languages as well as English lexical innovations that have originated in the NSW context (Harris 2007: 145). In addition, Kriol exhibits lexical items that are part of the lexical inventory of ‘World’ pidgins – such as piccaninny, savvy – or ‘Southwestern’ pidgins, e.g. belong, all together, fellow. Keeping in mind Sydney’s role as a maritime hub, it is likely that the majority of these were also transmitted via the NSW contact variety. Modern Kriol possesses a far more extended lexicon than its predecessor, the Northern Territory Pidgin English. Apart from the historical influences described, it draws on a variety of other resources, including diverse lexical borrowings from Aboriginal languages of the region that may be geographically restricted to the area in which the donor language is or was spoken (Harris 1986: 302). Many of the Aboriginal lexical items come from domains that are of importance for Aboriginal life and culture, e.g. terms that denote kinship relations, ceremonial actions, and local flora and fauna, such as junggai ‘ceremony leader’, gojok ‘male skin group’, birlal ‘water lily leaf’14. Other lexical innovations are based on semantic shift and semantic widening of English terms, e.g. jugabeg, derived from the English ‘sugar bag’ (bag containing 25 kg of bulk sugar) that has acquired the meaning ‘wild honey’, atjamp (lit. ‘heart jump’) ‘surprised’, or dabulum mijelp (from ‘double myself’) ‘curl up’ (Harris 2007: 145). Another interesting example provided by Harris (1986: 302) combines the use of an Aboriginal loan and an Aboriginal interpretation of English terms: budum la binji describes the act of internalising an emotion, budum, lexically derived from ‘put’ + ‘him’ the latter used as transitive suffix (cf. the use of -im as a marker of transitivity in 6.3), plus the NSW Pidgin term binji ‘stomach’. 14 Harris (1986: 302) suggests that even though these terms may have been borrowed for a lack of adequate English terms, it is more likely that many of them denote activities or phenomena that were discussed or carried out within the family or language community at the time of creolisation. 77 5.3 The Emergence of an Aboriginal Dialect of English Malcolm (2001: 201) defines AborE15 as “a range of varieties of English spoken widely, and sometimes written, by Indigenous Australians, which have developed independently of, but alongside, Australian English [...] since 1788”. Hence, the developmental process of AborE varieties began with the emergence of the early contact varieties in the settled NSW areas even though their subsequent development into a distinct dialect “occurred progressively over a period of time and not, for the most part, in the hearing of Standard Australian English speakers” (Malcolm & Grote 2007: 165). Above we have already sketched the emergence of NSW Pidgin, its spread across Australia and its role in the formation of a number of Australian contact languages. The pidgin originating in NSW and the local varieties that have emerged under its influence also constitute a major source for many varieties of AborE. In order to trace the origins of AborE it is thus necessary to reinspect particular aspects of the contact situation in NSW. From 1788 on, the Aboriginal population of Australia began to use English, to varying degrees, in their interaction with the English-speaking colonists. Eades (1996: 133) argues that the choice of English as the colony’s lingua franca “is hardly surprising, given both the extreme Anglo-centric views of English speakers [...], and the tremendous linguistic diversity of Aboriginal languages at the time of contact”. In the years following the landing of the First Fleet, the English language was increasingly forced upon the Aboriginal population which became progressively more affected by the dramatic effects of colonisation. Malcolm (2000: 125) explains that English was then, at least to this extent, forced upon Aboriginal people from the beginning, and the kind of English which the native speakers spoke was seen to be associated with a power which was progressively depriving Aboriginal people of their land, their livelihood and their liberty. In time, Aboriginal people were increasingly forced to come to terms with the language of those who quickly made themselves the majority in the new colony, as they suffered the disastrous effects of disease and bloody disputes over land and property. The Aboriginal people in the region who had formerly relied on their land for sustenance became increasingly dependent on the colonists and their 15 The use of the term ‘Aboriginal English’ to refer to the varieties of English that are used by the Indigenous population of Australia is a somewhat simplified approach since these cover a range of varieties which are also frequently distinguished by the use of local or regional names. The actual spectrum of varieties and implications for naming them will be discussed more thoroughly in the next chapter. For the purpose of this chapter, however, we will retain the term ‘Aboriginal English (AborE)’ that is used along with ‘Aboriginal English varieties’. 78 supplies. This relationship of dependence went hand in hand with the need to communicate, so that knowledge of the colonists’ language provided a necessary basis for survival for the groups that lived on settled land, and the local population soon exhibited language skills superior to those of the colonists whose expressions they rapidly managed to mimic. With the expansion of the colony, the pidgin that had become the primary means of cross-cultural communication between Aboriginal people and the colonists was carried into further parts of colonised Australia. Even though the Sydney Jargon had initially emerged from the need to engage in communication with the intruders, the contact variety soon developed into an Aboriginal lingua franca when the Aboriginal population began to perceive it as a valuable means for inter- as well as intra-cultural communication. As such, the variety “came to assume an increasing role as a tool for Aboriginal purposes rather than an entry to the heart of a foreign culture” (Malcolm 2000a: 134) and was used as a medium to express Aboriginal meanings and serve Aboriginal people’s communicative needs. English phonological and morphological structures were adapted to the systems of the Indigenous languages; the semantics of the lexicon, albeit derived from various sources, remained Aboriginal (Malcolm 2001b: 222). Malcolm (2000a: 133) notes: From what we know of the contact experience, it is also likely that the Aboriginal speakers drew heavily on their Aboriginal language knowledge for words, concepts and semantic fields with which to express and reference what they were saying in English, and that they developed early ways of using English resources innovatively to express their own meanings. When Aboriginal speakers started to exploit the inputs of the different English varieties for their own purposes, this marked the hour of birth of AborE. According to Malcolm (2000a: 141), the stabilisation of the early jargon variety into a stable pidgin meant that the diverse inputs from different Aboriginal languages were very likely merged into one shared pool of features and that we can assume processes of relexification that drew on the resources provided by the various English-based varieties that were in use. At the same time, the pidgin provided the basis for the Indigenisation of the colonists’ language: while its lexicon allowed the Aboriginal population to express their contact experience and to communicate it within a greater Aboriginal community, the semantic, phonological, and grammatical features of the pidgin still exhibited a continuing influence from the traditional languages. These properties were carried across the country with the spread of NSW Pidgin (Malcolm 2001b: 222), transported by the moving frontier but also diffused through its use as communication tool along traditional Aboriginal trade routes (Malcolm 2001a: 212). The dislocation of Aboriginal people from their territories and the need to communicate to both Europeans and members of other language groups promoted the pidginisation process as the linguisti- 79 cally heterogeneous communities which emerged at missions, stations, and settlements contributed to the development of the pidgin. When it spread into areas north, west, and south from the Sydney region, NSW Pidgin became an important tool for both cross-cultural communication and communication within Aboriginal society in great parts of Australia (Malcolm & Grote 2007: 162). Malcolm (2001a: 210) argues that “[t]here is general agreement that the development of AbE [Aboriginal English, K.L.] was preceded by the pidginisation and creolisation of English during the early years after colonisation”. Still, he explains that the individual developmental paths of AborE and their respective outcomes vary in different areas of Australia. In some parts of Australia, including NSW, the pidgins (and probably also creole varieties) that emerged during the earlier periods of colonisation have now been replaced by English. In other regions, local pidgin and creole varieties never developed; instead, Aboriginal dialects of English emerged as an early and more immediate result of cross-linguistic contact, although possibly influenced by the spread of NSW Pidgin. In again other areas, AborE now co-exists with creoles, e.g. with Kriol in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley area and with Torres Strait Creole on the Cape York Peninsula. In 5.2.2 we have attempted to trace the paths along which the NSW Pidgin spread across the country and the ways in which it influenced the development of Australia-wide Aboriginal contact languages. Its presence triggered different developments and resulted in diverse linguistic outcomes, given the varying conditions in different locations. Now, in order to comprehend the processes involved in the formation of modern Aboriginal varieties, we need to distinguish between movements towards and away from the basilect, viz. between processes of pidginisation/creolisation and depidginisation/decreolisation. In some cases, a contact variety progresses from a jargon to a stabilised and expanded pidgin, later developing into a creole. This process is often the result of severe social changes which have interrupted formerly existing patterns of language transmission, and examples of this type of development have been provided above. In the other case, we can observe how the contact variety undergoes a process of convergence towards the dominant language, usually in a situation of continuous and heavy exposure to it. Consequently, the structure and the lexical inventory of an existing pidgin or creole are gradually adapted to the dominant language (Malcolm 2001a: 213f). While pidginisation/creolisation and depidginisation/decreolisation frequently occur as sequential stages within one speech community, they may even happen simultaneously (Malcolm & Grote 2007: 163). Instances of creolisation have led to the emergence of the Kriol of the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region as well as to the formation of Torres Strait Creole. Elsewhere, the increasing presence of the English- 80 speaking colonists, and consequently, the high degree of exposure to the English language has favoured a process of depidginisation in which the pidgin began to converge towards a form closer to the English of the colonists. This development may be assumed for the southern parts of Australia where the once stable NSW Pidgin16 became replaced by AborE. A similar process of decreolisation may have occurred in those northern areas in which AborE has developed from earlier Kriol varieties. So, while AborE chronologically follows the development of creoles in some (northern) areas, creolisation of the earlier pidgins did not take place in most of the south and in some desert areas. Here, the development of AborE occurred simultaneously with that of one of the extended pidgins or creoles in other locations. In yet other contexts, AborE varieties may have emerged when English was acquired as a second language, and in some instances, especially in later periods of colonisation, when English was acquired as a first language. In such cases, the language of the colonisers has been ‘Aboriginalised’ by its speakers, and adapted to their needs by drawing on the resources of traditional languages and Kriol. We are thus dealing with a much more complex pattern of developmental processes than that described for the creoles, and have to take into account the different historical, social, and linguistic factors that have impacted its development in different loci (Eades 1996: 133). Leitner (2004b: 112) argues that it is further unclear whether AborE shares the same functions and has the same social position throughout the country. In addition, he suggests that [...] one should expect regional and dialectal patterns, remnants of the influence of indigenous languages after speakers have shifted to AborE, or else the effects of the attempts of learners to master English. Fossilization is a prominent characteristic of what learners do when they use a foreign or second language. One might expect deliberate attempts of speakers to include features from their indigenous heritage. The resulting picture can be illustrated with reference to Leitner (2004b: 112ff) who distinguishes four separate developmental paths that have led to the formation of AborE varieties. Here, we must also bear in mind the diachronic dimension: different developmental processes may have occurred in different locations and at different periods of time; in some regions, several processes may have co-occurred. Consequently “one should expect temporal layers, with some varieties of AborE being further advanced on the way to mAusE [mainstream Australian English, K.L.] than others” (Leitner 2004b: 114.). 16 Malcolm (2001a: 214) suggests that in some southern loci, the pidgin may even have creolised. 81 Diagram 1. Developmental Paths of Aboriginal English (adapted from Leitner 2004b: 113). Paths (a) and (b) describe processes of depidginisation and decreolisation, brought about by an extensive contact with the English language which causes speakers to shift from a pidgin or creole language to a form of English closer to the standard variety. With the disappearance of NSW Pidgin in the 1840s, speakers in the south-eastern parts of the country adopted the English language as their primary means of communication; in the northern and central areas, the shift to English only occurred at the end of the 19th century or in even later periods. In some areas, it may not have occurred at all. Path (c) also describes a shift to English, yet one occurring in situations in which learner varieties of English develop through open and persistent access to English. In Australia, contact situations in and around missions and stations often provided the necessary context. An interlanguage base also provides the basis for the path described in (d) which exhibits similarities to (c). Leitner defines Bennelong’s ‘broken English’ as an advanced form of learner English, i.e. an example of such an interlanguage. He assumes that there must have been more Aboriginal people with equal competence in English during the early days of the colony, given their stay in the homes of colonists. Their numbers, however, were too few to trigger a more widely use of an interlanguage variety of English and thus the NSW Pidgin became established as the common contact language of early NSW. Still, Leitner (2004b: 114) argues that “those other circumstances where access to English was easy would make AborE a possible outcome at the end of the early decades of the 19th century”. This was the case at mission and government schools such as the Native Institution at Parramatta where Aboriginal children experienced high exposure to English in an organised attempt to teach the language. It is difficult to estimate the actual degree of proficiency in English that the children acquired. However, it seems that some mission schools achieved reasonable results and Leitner (2004b: 116) suggests that the children’s English can be described as a learner variety which may have laid the foundation for the development of AborE. Despite this variation concerning possible developmental paths, forms of AborE spoken today show a range of common features. Some of them may be a) Pidgin creole creole AborE b) Pidgin post pidgin AborE c) Language shift AborE d)Interlanguages AborE Aboriginal vernacular Australian English 82 ascribed to the influence of NSW Pidgin that contributed features which have been retained over a process of divergence. Others may be the result of convergence processes in which originally diverse forms of AborE have developed a set of shared characteristics, indicating a process of koinéisation, “whereby the culturally integrated, increasingly mobile, and nationallyoriented speech community of Aboriginal Australia is expressing its perceived commonality in a reduction or attrition of variants, although retaining some degree of stylistic and regional variation” (Malcolm 2001a: 214f). Malcolm (2000a: 141) argues that the result is the emergence of a dialect that, despite noticeable variation, shows sufficient resemblance to be perceived as one single linguistic variety. Processes of overgeneralisation and regularisation that have been observed in later periods are possible consequences of the acquisition of AborE as a second language.

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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.