Alyawarr Children’s Use of Two Closely Related Languages

  • Sally Dixon
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Minority Languages and Communities book series (PSMLC)


A prevailing mystery in bilingualism research is just how speakers of creoles acquire a second language that is only subtly different from their first. This situation arises in Australia with Aboriginal children who speak contact languages, like Alyawarr English (AlyE), and subsequently learn Standard Australian English (SAE) at school. For these students, the task of learning SAE has unique characteristics. In Alyawarr English you can ‘hit’, be ‘hitting’ or ‘hitbat’ something. To speak SAE, how do children learn to stop using the -bat ending and reconfigure the semantics of ‘hit’ and ‘hitting’ in its absence? This chapter identifies three such differences between AlyE and SAE (aspect morphology, subject pronouns and transitive marking) and explores their variable use in the first two years of school.


Alyawarr English Contact languages Australia Camouflaged forms Variation 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sally Dixon
    • 1
  1. 1.Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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