This is an intriguing video of both English and ‘Kriol’ (as stated in the title) being spoken by a lady called Laura, who is a Torres Strait Islander.
However, to me, it seems that what Laura’s speaking is actually Torres Straits Creole or ‘Brokan’. One is because of the words she uses, which don’t seem to occur in Kriol (e.g. dhempla), and secondly because she states that her family used to stay on the Torres Strait Islands. Hence, it would be unlikely that she would know Kriol, unless she learnt it later.
Of course, since I’m not qualified enough, I can’t say so with certainty. But due to this uncertainty about which language is being used, I’ll refer to it henceforth simply as ‘creole’. In any case, most of the features highlighted below are applicable to both Kriol as well as Brokan.
The video alternates between her speaking in English and the creole. The variety of the creole seems to be ‘light’.
While she has a seemingly good command of English, some of the things she says reveal interesting aspects of her linguistic makeup.
Here’s a small list of such utterances (in italics) in the video, along with their times and a short description and analysis, starting from the more innocuous and moving on the more striking:
1:07 counting fishes — borderline, though “fishes” is not unheard of.
2:41 mekyem tuls òl sabe / mekim tuls ol sabe — shows the verb stem meke / mek plus -em / -im transitive construction. sabe is ‘to know’.
0:50 I could bring books home for read — Standard English sentence with the creole-influenced for read (Brokan pò rid / Kriol po rid) instead of to read presumably having crept in unknowingly.
0:15 Literacy en numeracy, i aba(u)t laning pò rait en pò du maths — the underlined words are pronounced as they are in English, and have the same meaning, presumably because a) the creole uses the same words for these concepts as English, b) if separate words do exist, the speaker isn’t aware of them, or c) if separate words do exist, she prefers to use these English words in her ‘light’ variety of creole, due to the presence of a non-Aboriginal listener and a video audience. Also, the fifth word sounds more like Brokan abaut rather than Kriol abat.
0:02 Literacy and numeracy is [sic] about English and writing — In Laura’s opinion, literacy seems to be about English, and not about her creole.
This is probably the most poignant sentence in the video, and reflects Harris’s (2005:150) statement:
[Creole]-speaking Aboriginal people themselves have held a low view of their language… Those who speak creoles have endured generations of abuse of themselves and their languages. It is little wonder that they have grown ashamed of their speech.
Arvind Iyengar | LING 566
P.S.: If the language Laura is using is indeed Brokan and not Kriol, then it’s quite an unfortunate error, considering that this video has been produced by the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment (DETE).
Harris, J. 2005. ‘Losing and gaining a language: The story of Kriol’, in Language and Culture in Aboriginal Australia, eds M. Walsh & C. Yallop, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, pp. 145-154.