Munya Andrews speaks on the subject of Indigenous language and contact with the law. She makes the point that the Australian justice system is culturally specific and alienating to Aboriginal people. It’s laws, values systems that decide those laws, the protocols, procedures, physical makeup (courtroom) and use of language are all culturally alien to Aboriginal people. She outlines a few of the communication problems that the Aboriginal people face when dealing with the legal system: differences in word meaning (‘kill’ means to hit), the Aboriginal use of questions (direct vs indirect) and cultural mindset differences (generality vs specificity and gratuitous concurrence). Towards a solution Andrews suggests making the legal system more accessible and inclusive to Aboriginal people and quotes Richard Trudgen as saying that ‘we have to understand the cultural world view of a people before we can understand what they are talking about’.
Carla Quigley (LING366 2012)