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Embedding cultural conceptualization within an adopted language

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Abstract

Although a minority of Indigenous Australians still use their heritage languages, English has been largely adopted by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as their medium of communication both within and beyond their communities. In the period since English first reached Australia in 1788, a dialect has emerged, drawing on English, contact language, and Indigenous language sources, to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander speakers to maintain cultural conceptual continuity while communicating in a dramatically changed environment. In the perspective of Cultural Linguistics it can be shown that many of the modifications in the lexicon, grammar, phonology, and discourse of English as used by Indigenous Australians can be related to cultural/conceptual principles, of which five are illustrated here: interconnectedness, embodiment, group reference, orientation to motion, and orientation to observation. This is demonstrated here with data from varieties of Aboriginal English spoken in diverse Australian locations. The understanding of Aboriginal English this gives has implications for cross-cultural communication and for education.
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Keywords: Aboriginal English; Cultural Linguistics; cultural conceptualizations; language contact; nativization

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 14, 2017

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