Article published in:Communication and Translation in Aboriginal Contexts
Edited by Edith L. Bavin
[Australian Review of Applied Linguistics. Series S 5] 1990
► pp. 1–47
Language and communication in Aboriginal land claim hearings
This paper discusses aspects of the intercultural communication processes involved in the quasi-legal presentation of claims to traditional land by Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory before the Aboriginal Land Commissioner. The findings are documented by means of selected extracts from the transcripts of proceedings. Although the proceedings took place predominantly in English, there was some use of interpreters, liberal use of words from Aboriginal languages, and even considerable usage of nonverbal gestures. Most of the Aboriginal witnesses spoke some form of non-standard English influenced by Kriol and traditional Australian languages. The most salient features of their non-standard English are described here. Aboriginal witnesses accommodated their language toward Standard English. Some of their non-standard utterances were clarified by others for the record. The court also accommodated somewhat to Aboriginal styles and forms of speech. Nevertheless there were numerous instances of communication failure, which had various specific causes but were not aided by the culturally alien general legal procedure of question-and-answer elicitation of information.
Published online: 01 January 1990
Cited by 2 other publications
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