Centre for Applied Language and Literacy Research and Institute for the Service Professions, Edith Cowan University
Place of Publication
Mount Lawley, Western Australia
Centre for Applied Language and Literacy Research and Institute for the Service Professions
Aboriginal Australia has a unique heritage of oral literature and Aboriginal people of all ages take delight in yarning. Despite the richness and contemporary relevance of this heritage, little is known in the wider Australian society about the oral discourse skills that are taken for granted in Aboriginal communities.
Although the art of oral narrative has developed over countless generations and by medium of Indigenous languages, previous studies (Malcolm 1994a, b; Malcolm and Rochecouste 2000; Rochecouste and Malcolm 2000) have shown that it is vigorously maintained in Aboriginal English.
The lack of general awareness of the verbal art of Aboriginal English speakers contrasts with the growing awareness, within the wider community, of the great accomplishment of contemporary Aboriginal people in other spheres of the arts, in particular, painting, music, dance and drama.
The work reported on here was initiated with a view to helping this lack of awareness to be remedied, especially with respect to urban-dwelling Aboriginal people, in the interests of both giving credit where credit is due and of providing an informed input to education systems. Such input is an essential prerequisite for the further development of two-way bidialectal education which seeks to found the establishment of literacy skills in standard English on the basis of a prior and ongoing recognition of the existing repertoire of community-based language skills possessed by Aboriginal students...