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Some Australian Pidgin references and samples

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Some references

REFERENCE BIBLIOGRAPHY (excerpt included by kind permission of Harold Koch)

Compiled by Harold Koch, Australian National University, with input from Michael Walsh, Sydney University, 1992. Revised 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007 (by Josephine Caffery), 2009.



Blake, ch. 7.

Dixon, ch. . 4.1

Harris, John. 2007. Linguistic responses to contact: Pidgins and creoles. In The habitat of Australia's Aboriginal languages: Past, present, and future, eds. Gerhard Leitner and Ian G. Malcolm, 131-151. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Mühlhäusler, Peter. 1979. Remarks on the Pidgin and Creole situation in Australia. A.I.A.S. Newsletter 12. 41-53.

Mühlhäusler, Peter. 1991. Overview of the pidgin and creole languages of Australia. in Suzanne Romaine (ed.) Language in Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 159-173.

Mühlhäusler, Peter. 1996. Pidgins and creoles in Queensland. In Wurm et al, vol. 2.1: ch. 7, 67-82.

Mühlhäusler, Peter. 2008. History of research into Australian pidgins and creoles. In Encountering Aboriginal languages: Studies in the history of Australian linguistics, ed. William B. McGregor, 437-457. Canberra: Australian National University.

Sandefur, John. 1985. English-based languages and dialects currently spoken by Aboriginal people: Suggestions towards a consensus on terminology. Australian Journal of Linguistics 5. 67-78.

Sommer, B.A. 1974. Aboriginal Non-standard English. English in Australia 26. 39-46.

Vaszolyi, ch.5

Wurm, Stephen A.; Peter Mühläusler; Darrell T. Tryon (eds). 1996. Atlas of languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas. 3 vols. (Trends in Linguistics: Documentation, 13). Berlin / New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Yallop, ch. 7.3.


Amery, Rob and Peter Mühlhäusler. 1996. Pidgin English in New South Wales. In Wurm et al, vol. 2.1: ch. 5, 33-52.

Clark, Ian D., Peter Mühlhäusler and Rob Amery. 1996. Language contacts and Pidgin English in Victoria. In Wurm et al, vol. 2.1: ch. 6, 53-68.

Dineen, Ann and  Peter Mühlhäusler. 1996. Nineteenth century language contact in South Australia. In Wurm et al, vol. 2.1: ch. 8, 83-99.

Dutton, T. 1983. The Origin and Spread of Aboriginal Pidgin English in Queensland: A Preliminary Account. Aboriginal History 7. 90-122.

Hall, R.A. 1943. Notes on Australian Pidgin English. Language 19, 263-267.

Harold Koch. 1999. The role of Australian Aboriginal languages in the formation of Australian Pidgin grammar: transitive verbs and adjectives. In Jeff Siegel (ed.), Processes of Language Contact: Case Studies from Australia and the South Pacific. (Champs linguistiques [Series editor: Claire Lefebvre) Saint Laurent, Quebec, Canada: Fides. 13-46.

Harris, John W. 1986. Northern Territory Pidgins and the Origin of Kriol.  Canberra: PL C 89.

Mühlhäusler, Peter and William McGregor. 1996. Post-contact languages of Western Australia.  In Wurm et al, vol. 2.1: ch. 9, 101-121.

Mühlhäusler, Peter. 1996. Pidgins and creoles in Queensland. In Wurm et al, vol. 2.1: ch. 7, 67-82.

Mühlhäusler, Peter. 1996. Post contact languages in mainland Australia after 1788.  In Wurm et al, vol. 2.1: ch. 2, 11-16.

Mühlhäusler, Peter. 1996. Post-contact Aboriginal languages in the Northern Territory.  In Wurm et al, vol. 2.1: ch. 10, 123-132.

Mühlhäusler, Peter. 1996. The diffusion of Pidgin English in Australia.  In Wurm et al, vol. 2.1: ch. 12, 143-146.

Simpson, Jane. 1996. Early language contact varieties in South Australia. AJL 16: 169-207.

Troy, Jakelin. 1990. Australian Aboriginal contact with the English language in New South Wales 1788 - 1845. Canberra: PL (B-103).

Troy, Jakelin. 1994. Melaleuka: a history and description of New South Wales pidgin. 2 vols. PhD Dissertation, Australian National University, Canberra.

Turner, G.W. 1966. Pidgin English In The English Language in Australia and New Zealand. London: Longmans. 199-212.

 11.4. KRIOL

Fraser, Jill. 1977. A Phonological Analysis of Fitzroy Crossing Childrens Pidgin, In Hudson, Joyce (ed.), Five Papers in Australian Phonologies (Work Papers of SIL-AAB A 1) Darwin: SIL. 145-204.

Graber, Philip. 1987. Kriol in the Barkly Tableland. AAS 1987:2. 14-19.

Harris, John. 1991. Kriol: the creation of a new language. In Suzanne Romaine (ed.) Language in Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 195-203.

Harris, John. 1993. Losing and gaining a language: The story of Kriol. In Walsh & Yallop, ch. 10, 145-154.

Harris, John and John Sandefur. 1983. Creole Languages and the Use of Kriol in Northern Territory Schools. Unicorn: Bulletin of the Australian College of Education 9:3, 249-264.

Harris, John and John Sandefur. 1984. The Creole Language Debate and the Use of Creoles in Australian Schools. The Aboriginal Child at School 12:1. 8-29

Harris, John and Sandefur, John. 1985. Kriol and multilingualism. In Clyne, Michael (ed.), Australia, Meeting Place of Languages. Canberra: PL (C-92). 257-64.

Hudson, Joyce. 1983. Grammatical and Semantic Aspects of Fitzroy Valley Kriol. (Work Papers of SIL-AAB, A 8) Darwin: SIL.

Hudson, Joyce. 1984. Transitivity and aspect in the Kriol verb. In Lois Carrington et al, Papers in Pidgin and Creole Linguistics  No. 3  Canberra: PL, A-65. 161-176.

Mühlhäusler, Peter. 1996. Post-contact Aboriginal languages in the Northern Territory.  In Wurm et al, vol. 2.1: ch. 10, 123-132.

Munro, Jennifer M. 2000. Kriol on the move: A case of language spread and shift in Northern Australia. In Jeff Siegel (ed.), Processes of language contact: Studies from Australia and the South Pacific.  Montreal: Fides. 245-270.

Munro, Jennifer M. 2004. Substrate language influence in Kriol: the application of transfer constraints to language contact in northern Australia, University of New England: PhD.

Rhydwen, Mari 1991. Kriol, the creation of a written language and a tool of colonisation. In Michael Walsh and Colin Yallop (eds.) Language and Culture in Aboriginal Australia. ch 11.

Rumsey, Alan. 1983. On some syntactico-semantic consequences of homophony in North-West Australian Pidgin/Creole English. In Lois Carrington et al, Papers in Pidgin and Creole Linguistics No. 3. Canberra: PL (A-65). 177-189.

Sandefur, John R. 1979. An Australian Creole in the Northern Territory: A Description of Ngukurr-Bamyili Dialects Part 1. (Work papers of SIL-AAB, B3). Darwin: SIL.

Sandefur, John. 1981. Kriol - An Aboriginal Language. Hemisphere 25, 252-256.

Sandefur, John. 1981. Kriol - Language with a History. Northern Perspective 4:1. 3-7.

Sandefur, John R. 1981. Developing a Literature for Kriol. In Hargrave 1981 (see under LANGUAGE PLANNING). 115-133.

Sandefur, John. 1981. A new Aboriginal language. The Aboriginal Child at School 9.1. 52-60.

Sandefur, John R. 1982. Extending the use of Kriol. In Bell, 18-24.

Sandefur, John R. 1982. When will Kriol die out? In McKay and Sommer, 34-45.

Sandefur, John R. 1982. Kriol and the question of decreolization. In McKay (ed.). 5-14.

Sandefur, John, R. 1984. Papers on Kriol: The Writing System and a Resource Guide (Work Papers of SIL-AAB, B10). Darwin: SIL.

Sandefur, John R. 1985. Dynamics of an Australian Creole System. In Romaine, S. et al.  Papers in Pidgin and Creole Linguistics No. 4 Canberra: PL (A-72). 195-214

Sandefur, John. 1985. Aspects of the socio-political history of Ngukurr (Roper River) and its effect on Language change. Aboriginal History 9. 205-219.

Sandefur, John. 1986. Kriol of North Australia: a language coming of age. (Work papers on SIL-AAB, A 10) Darwin: Summer Institute of Languages

Sandefur, John 1991. A sketch of the structure of Kriol. in Suzanne Romaine (ed.) Language in Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 204-212.

Sandefur, J. 1991?. Kriol and Torres Strait Creole: where do they meet? The Occasional Bulletin of Nungalinya College, Darwin, No. 44...

Sandefur, John R. et al. 1982. Looking for Kriol in Queensland. A.I.A.S. Newsletter 17. 35-40.

Sandefur, John and Harris, John. 1986. Variation in Australian Kriol. In Fishman, J.A. et al. (eds.), The Fergusonian impact: In honour of Charles A. Ferguson..vol.2: Sociolinguistics and the sociology of language.  Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 179-190.

Sandefur, John R. and Joy L. Sandefur (comps) 1979. Beginnings of a Ngukurr-Bamyili Creole Dictionary.  (Work Papers of SIL-AAB B4) Darwin: SIL.

Sandefur, John and Joy Sandefur. 1980. Pidgin and Creole in the Kimberleys, West Australia, A.I.A.S. Newsletter 14. 31-37.

Sandefur, John and Joy Sandefur. 1981 An Introduction to Conversation Kriol. (Work papers of SIL-AAB B 5). Darwin: SIL. (Includes set of cassettes).

Sharpe, Margaret. 1974/1975. Notes on the Pidgin English creole of Roper River, A.I.A.S. Newsletter, 2, 2-14: republished in Sharpe, M.C. et al, Papers in Australian Linguistics No. 8 (PL A-39) Canberra 1- 20 and Linguistic Communications 13 38-60.

Sharpe, Margaret C. 1985. Kriol - an Australian language resource. In Romaine, S. et al, Papers in Pidgin and Creole Linguistics No. 4, Canberra: PL (A-72). 177-94.

Sharpe, Margaret C. and John Sandefur. 1976. The Creole Language of the Katherine and Roper River Areas, Northern Territory, in Clyne, Michael (ed.), Australia Talks: Essays in the Sociology of Australian Immigrant and Aboriginal Languages. Canberra: PL (D-23). 63-66.

Sharpe, Margaret C. and John Sandefur. 1977. A Brief Description of Roper Creole, in  Brumby, Ed and Eric Vaszolyi, (eds). 1977. Language Problems in Aboriginal Education. Perth: Mt. Lawley C.A.E., ch.8

Steffensen, Margaret S. 1979. Reduplication in Bamyili Creole. In Papers in Pidgin and Creole Linguistics, No. 2 (Canberra: PL, A-57). 119-133.

Steffensen, M.S. 1991. Australian Creole English: the effect of cultural knowledge on language and memory. In Cheshire, J. (ed.), English around the world: sociolinguistic perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Chapter 17, 256-67.

Note: The above supersedes the 1995 version of bibliography by Harold Koch, Kriol Language in Aboriginal Australia

Koch, Harold. 2011b. Substrate influences on New South Wales Pidgin: The origin of -im and -fela. In Claire Lefebvre (ed), Creoles, their substrates, and language typology (Typological Studies in Language 95) Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 489-512. [= revised version of 2000d]

Koch, Harold. 2011c. The influence of Arandic languages on Central Australian Aboriginal English. In Claire Lefebvre (ed), Creoles, their substrates, and language typology (Typological Studies in Language 95) Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. pp. 437-460. [= considerably altered version of 2000e]

Simpson, Jane. 2000. Camels as pidgin-carriers: Afghan cameleers as a vector for the spread of features of Australian Aboriginal pidgins and creoles. In Processes of language contact: studies from Australia and the South Pacific, ed. J. Siegel.  Collections Champs linguistiques. 195-244. Saint-Laurent, Quebec: Fides. (AGMV Marquis, member of the Scabrini Group)

Sample excerpts in chronological order

1840 Sydney

Strugglers and settlers : Darvall family letters 1839-1849, edited by Jeremy Long.  2nd edition, 2005.
p.136 Leila Darvall's letter to UK:
In this place enter my Cook without knocking - a black man woolly head - striped shirt no coat, no shoes or stockings -
he grins shewing all his white teeth and says "Mishish! Mishish! - What short a dumplin him make? - Him put sh' beef into him?"
To which I answer as matter of course "Yes put beef into him."
And if I had not been writing to you the absurdity of the incident would not have struck me, my ear being accustomed to my feeble imitations of the jargon which alone seems to be intelligible to him.

Bogan River (NSW) mid 19th century

[concerning the death of Richard Cunningham, April 1835:]
Writing to me on this subject as late as 1897, Rev. T. W. Harrison, who used to labour in the Bogan district says:—
A slightly different account of Cunningham's death used to be given by a blackfellow name Billy on Messrs Hunt Brothers Burdenda station, on one of the banks of which—Upper Tabratong West—Cunningham's grave is situated. Billy died about 1870. He stated that he was present as a boy at the murder. His account was 'Baal dat pfellar batter (eat). He bin gry, gry, gry all day and eat 'im grass. Debildebil sit down long a dat pfellar, mine tink it. By-um-by put 'im down gun, pick-um up grass, eat 'im. Blackfellar come up behind-huh!'—illustrating by a blow of a fist on the back of his own head, and then by a quiver of his limbs, the death agony of poor Cunningham. I visited the grave in 1878, and wrote a letter to one of the Sydney papers urging that something should be done to repair the dilapidated fence, etc., but no notice was taken of the epistle.
The Story of the Blacks: The Aborigines of Australia by Charles White (1845-1922)

southern NSW? mid 19th century

The black looked wild and frightened; and, in sad soliloquy, said, "Bell cooleen, bell pater, these poor fellows, all tumble down when euroka jump up :-- nothing to eat, nothing to drink, these poor fellows will all die when the sun jumps up." Graham (1863:278) NB: order of translation should be "Nothing to drink, nothing to eat, …".
Written in Ireland on the basis of the author’s returned eldest brother’s tales of over twenty years in Australia (Graham 1880:86-7).

Graham, Rev. John (ed.) 1863. Lawrence Struilby: or, Observations and experiences during twenty-five years of bush-life in Australia. London: Longman, Green. Google Books.
Graham, Charles. 1880. Memoir of the Rev. John Graham. London: J.F. Shaw. Accessed 31 August 2011

Maitland (NSW), before 1890

Mr. T. W. Edgworth David, F.G.S. —Apropos of the food of the aborigines it may be of interest to some of the members to know that the aborigines in Maitland District at all events were particularly fond of the fruit of the Macrozamia. Mr. Elliott who used to reside there,  … Mr. Elliott told me there was a black who lived at his selection, and did not migrate like the others, because he said the whole of Mr. Elliott's selection was on a bit of land the King of the tribe gave to him, and he always resided permanently upon it. This black knew the life history of nearly every living creature on this piece of land, and he particularly studied the snakes. One day Mr. Elliott saw a large black snake near his hut, and killed it. Presently this black-fellow came up in a terrible state of indignation, "What you done? Why do that ? Why you kill that fellow? Me watch that fellow this long time. That fellow not fat enough yet. Me wanted by and by to kill and eat him when get fat enough." It shows what kind of observation they take of the different classes of food on which they set special value, especially snake preserves.

Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales 24(1890), 119-20.

NT 1883

The diary of Emily Caroline Creaghe : explorer, edited by Peter Monteath
North Adelaide, S.A. : Corkwood Press, 2004
Tuesday 29th May, 1883; 14 miles south of Daly Waters
When they came up we found they had seen white men, & one or two of them could speak a few words of English. After talking to them for a few minutes, Harry made them to understand we were going to camp there for the night, & they were to go away & come again at sunrise tomorrow, & they would get some food. The words used were "You know sun" (pointing to where the sun had just gone down,) they nodded their heads, "well, when sun come up" (pointing to the east) you come along, plenty "parter", (hitting himself on his stomach). They understood & after waving their hands as goodbye they went off, ... ( page 69)
The speaker was Henry Creaghe, husband of the diarist, aged about 34, had lived in various parts of Queensland. The word "parter" is presumably from NSW Pidgin, in turn from the verb patha 'to eat' in the Sydney Language; see references at

RR Harvey WA Goldfields 1899

[Medical Officer of Health, Norseman, WA]. Condensed water. Australasian Medical Gazette. 20 July 1899, p.298. (an article describing lead poisoning in gold miners who made their own desalination plants)
An aboriginal said, describing the country: "Plenty water, no gold; plenty gold, no water" - a good aphorism.

Tom Petrie's reminiscences of early Queensland (dating from 1837) 1904 p.288 etc
"Baal you yacca, baal you tobacco !"
"Baal you budgery."
"Baal budgery ! Hip, hip, hurray !"

Bolam Nullarbor 1923

data excerpted and keyboarded by Harold Koch, 23 Nov 1998
Bolam, A.G. 1978. The Trans-Australian wonderland. 6th edition. Facsimile edition. (Historical Reprint Series) Nedlands, W.A.: University of Western Australia Press. [first published 1923, 6th ed. 1927, Melbourne: The Modern Printing Co.] ch 9: The Aboriginals.
source of Pidgin data: Ooldea on the Trans-Australian railway line

Anthony Bolam worked for Commonwealth Railways, 1918-25, stationmaster from 1920.

C Price Conigrave 1938

 Walk-about. London: JM Dent & Sons Ltd. (1937 expedition)

p.vii: 'Which way?' I asked my blackboy, meaning 'Where are you going?'
'Me go walk-about,' he answered.
'More far?' I inquired.
'Might-be,' was the native's reply.

p.59: 'My word, boss, big-fellah fire: he come along quick fellah.  Him catchem camp dreckly.'

p.89: 'My word, boss, him all about bird sing out hard-fellah, him all about big-fellah fright.' (awesome bushlands rang with the screams of the terrified creatures)

Ernestine Hill c1947

[excerpted and keyboarded by David Nash, 9 Nov 1999]
Hill, Ernestine, 1899-1972. c1947. Shores of the Bight.  Typescript notes.
NLA Manuscript reference no.: MS 8392.


[Nullarbor Station, SA]
p. [17]
At Malabi Tank we met the party in the camel buggy out rabbiting, Mr and Mrs Jimmie McCarthy, and we asked them about blacks and they sent over Nellie - Koonyu.  Story of her wandering and how she had gone from Mundrabilla to Balladonia, walking, at her old age.  Story of Henry and her other nephew.  She greets us with a hearty greeting and a wail with tears in her old eyes, wanting to go back over the border to Mulba country. "Nowhere sit down, allabout finish. Me wanta go back own country, nutting here.  That-way blackfella finishem my boy, little young-fella.  She had come across with two nephews. Had worked on various stations, Mundrabilla once, Balladonia, Nullarbor and Gurney's -- was walking about neked and Mrs Gurney gave her a frock.  No rations, living on Wombat, wombat, wombat.  Wog-gai-ya, wombat.  All-time me sit down one woman, me alltime cry.  She had tried to come back with rabbiters, but they went bush to Cook and left her
[document ends]

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