Schema-based Processing in Australian Speakers of Aboriginal English
Taylor and Francis Ltd
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
School of International, Cultural and Community Studies
Miscommunication between Australian Aboriginal students and their non-Aboriginal teachers has, among other things, contributed to the educational underachievement of these students. This miscommunication has arisen from certain cultural and linguistic incompatibilities between the students and the teacher. Aboriginal students mainly speak Aboriginal English, which is different from Standard Australian English at all levels of linguistic structure and content. At the discourse level, Aboriginal English appears to be highly informed by schemas that are deeply rooted in Aboriginal cultures. This paper explores certain features of Aboriginal English discourse which appear to be associated with some distinctive roles played by schemas in processing and formation of discourse by Aboriginal children. For example, certain referential devices seem to retrieve their antecedents from the schema activated or the image evoked in the mind of the speaker, rather than the linguistic or physical context in which these devices are used. Aboriginal kids dont make it or dont go to school cos everythin at school is about watjellas n' the way they speak n act. Aboriginal kids speak Aboriginal English n see lots a thing the watjellas cant see. watjella teachers dont understand Aboriginal kids.