Strong music

Jo:

I have had a few looks on YouTube recently to try and find some interesting snippet of Aboriginal English or Kriol to post to this blog. On page 70 of LING366/466 pdf reading 8 (Susan Kaldor and Ian Malcolm’s ‘Aboriginal English – an overview’, chapter 3 of ‘Language in Australia’), I read that Aboriginal English was sometimes referred to by its speakers as “blackfella talk”. So I decided to do a search on YouTube for this term. This lead me to discover the following song – “Blackfellas” – which I really enjoyed, so want to share with you all.

I suppose this is an example of an urban variety of Aboriginal English – which also happens to be coloured by the hip hop genre. I wish I could find the lyrics as I can’t quite hear what they are at some points, which makes it hard to say what features of Aboriginal English are present. I am pretty sure I heard a “don’t never” and several instances of ‘ing’ forms pronounced as “in”, however, I suspect these may be part of many non-standard Englishes, including hip hop talk.

The main thing about this song though, is that it seems to me to be a really genuine and empowering voice from indigenous Australia. It mentions “respect” a couple of times, which is an important concept in Aboriginal culture, as we have seen in recent parts of this unit. And at one point as far as I can hear it contains the words “I’m passin’ out a message that’s crystal clear, to all the young proud [or ‘crowd’?] mob, don’t show no fear”. I guess this is a call for young Aboriginal people to be proud, confidant, and not intimidated, but as part of this, it could also be seen as a specific piece of advice on strategies in cross-cultural exchanges with Anglo Australia.

I also like the use of all the various Aboriginal group names, as it reiterates a point made early on in this unit, that there is no one Aboriginal language or identity, whilst also addressing all (or many?) Aboriginal people very inclusively. Likewise the bit of “language” (I am assuming traditional Aboriginal) in the middle of the song is interesting, but I have no idea where it is from!

More info on the band (Local Knowledge) available here.

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