‘Up dere la’: Final Particle la in a Queensland Aboriginal Vernacular


Up dere la’: Final Particle la in a Queensland Aboriginal Vernacular

By Claire Gourlay and Ilana Mushin

This paper presents an analysis of the discourse particle la as it is used in an English-based Aboriginal vernacular language spoken in an ex-government reserve in Queensland. Using unelicited conversational data recorded in primary school classrooms, we present an analysis of the formal and functional properties of la. In terms of formal properties, we classify la as a final particle and observe that it frequently collocates with the deictic demonstratives ere (here) and dere (dere) and the visual perception verbs look and see. In our functional analysis we show that la is employed when the speaker is directing an interlocutor to jointly attend with the speaker to a specific object or action within the here-and-now environment—a function that is rare among discourse particles. We also discuss the possible origins of this particle in terms of substrate influences from traditional Australian languages or borrowing from other contact varieties. Our analysis of the particle la thus contributes both to our understanding of Queensland Aboriginal vernaculars and of discourse particles as linguistic objects that illustrate the inherently intersubjective nature of language.