Publication details [#61011]

Munro, Jennifer and Ilana Mushin. 2016. Rethinking Australian Aboriginal English-based speech varieties. Evidence from Woorabinda. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 31 (1) : 82–112.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


The colonial history of Australia necessitated contact between nineteenth and twentieth century dialects of English and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island languages. This has resulted in the emergence of contact languages, some of which have been identified as creoles (e.g. Sandefur 1979, Shnukal 1983) while others have been hidden under the label of ‘Aboriginal English’, exacerbated by what Young (1997) described as a gap in our knowledge of historical analyses of individual speech varieties. This paper provides detailed sociohistorical data on the emergence of a contact language in Woorabinda, an ex-Government Reserve in Queensland. It proposes that the data show that the label ‘Aboriginal English’ previously applied (Alexander 1968) does not accurately identify the language. Here the paper compares the sociohistorical data for Woorabinda to similar data for both Kriol, a creole spoken in the Northern Territory of Australia and to Bajan, an ‘intermediate creole’ of Barbados, to argue that the language spoken in Woorabinda is most likely also an intermediate creole.