Land, language and identity: The socio-political origins of Gurindji Kriol

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Empirical evidence for the sociolinguistic origins of mixed languages has often proven elusive due to the paucity of historical material on the linguistic and political situation at the point of their genesis. Gurindji Kriol is a mixed language spoken by Gurindji people in northern Australia. The socio-historical circumstances of its emergence are well-documented due to the role that Gurindji people played in Australian politics at the time. Between 1966 and 1975, they led a landmark political struggle to regain control of their traditional lands. Gurindji Kriol found its genesis during this period and its emergence is significant given that many other Aboriginal groups in the area were shifting to Kriol, an English-based creole language. In this chapter I argue that the retention of Gurindji features in the mixed language occurred in parallel with the land rights movement and both can be considered expressions of the persistence of a Gurindji identity.


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