M Ponsonnet – Anthropological Linguistics, Volume 52, Number 2, Summer 2010, pp. 160-183
This article deals with the sociolinguistics of Kriol, an English-lexifier creole widely used among Aboriginal people in the north of the Northern Territory in Australia. Some views and ideologies about their own language expressed by four first-language Barunga Kriol speakers in a series of speech interactions are presented, and possible interpretations are suggested, based on understanding of speakers’ local and personal backgrounds as well as sociolinguistic and historical clues. While the youngest speaker was somewhat critical of Kriol, older and middle-aged speakers expressed affection and pride for it, even though their depiction of Kriol as “in between” English and traditional Aboriginal languages was in line with the youngest speaker’s views. One must be cautious about drawing general conclusions from such a small number of cases, but two possible factors triggering the discrepant evaluations may be the older speakers’ greater awareness of the history of Kriol and of its recognition as a respectable language and their mastery of ancestral Aboriginal languages.