Same but different

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In this paper we examine the historical and social factors associated with language contact in three Queensland settlements – Yarrabah, Cherbourg and Woorabinda – and discuss the impact these may have had on the emergence of the English-lexified vernacular languages associated with these communities today. Our focus is on the 20th century and how Queensland Government policies of removal towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including those of the Cape York Peninsula, provided new contexts for sustained language contact in these settlements, not only between traditional languages, but also with pre-existing contact varieties. We show here how each vernacular is different because the sociohistorical circumstances in which they emerged are different. So while the three vernaculars we examine have been labelled as ‘Aboriginal English’, our research demonstrates a much richer picture – one which demands a re-examination of the vernacular of any Aboriginal community today as a product of its own unique history.


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