“We mix it up”: Indigenous youth language practices in Arnhem Land

“We mix it up”: Indigenous youth language practices in Arnhem Land Book Section

Global Perspectives on Youth Language Practices

  • Author(s): Vaughan, Jill, Carter, Abigail
  • Secondary Author(s): Cynthia, Groff, Andrea, Hollington, Ellen, Hurst-Harosh, Nico, Nassenstein, Jacomine, Nortier, Helma, Pasch, Nurenzia, Yannuar
  • Published: 2022
  • Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton

Abstract: On Australia’s north-central coast, the regional hub of Maningrida is distinguished by a highly diverse language ecology, with local linguistic repertoires taking in elements of multiple traditional languages as well as localised Englishes, Kriol (an English-lexified creole), and a local alternate sign language system. Texts and talk in Maningrida are rarely monolingual. Youth culture in Maningrida is char-acterised by the interacting demands of traditional cultural life and an emergent urban subculture that increasingly connects to global phenomena. Young speak-ers are more, and differently, mobile compared to earlier generations, and their language practices are fundamentally implicated in community language change. While some elders are concerned that young people are connecting less deeply to their languages’ traditional heartlands, young speakers themselves have differ-ent perspectives to offer. This chapter explores the language practices of Manin-grida youth and centralises local Indigenous perspectives on this phenomenon. Drawing on data collected through collaborative community language research, we consider the emergence of a restructured urban variety of the Burarra language, a process of “linguistic urbanisation” in which youth are central. We further con-sider examples of the creative multilingual practices of young Maningrida speak-ers/signers, such as the recent success of an all-female band from the community who sing in five local languages. This chapter aims to illustrate how Maningrida youth create affordances within the diverse multilingual resources of their com-munity, and the ways in which they draw on tradition and modernity to create new forms of meaning making.

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Suggested Citation
Vaughan, Jill, Carter, Abigail, 2022, “We mix it up”: Indigenous youth language practices in Arnhem Land, Book Section, viewed 21 February 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=38683.

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