LINGUIST List 6.293

Thu 23 Feb 1995

Disc: Words that are their own opposites

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Message 1: Words that are their own op

Date: Tue, 21 Feb 1995 18:50:28 Words that are their own op
From: <>
Subject: Words that are their own op

 REGARDING Words that are their own opposites
I've thought of an example- the word 'shame' in Aboriginal English
and Standard Australian English. For example, in the Paul Kelly
(Standard Australian English) song, "Special Treatment" he describes
an Aboriginal boy who has had his family's history hidden from him
(pushed off land, put in chains, children stolen etc etc) as "I was
raised in shame". This is a negative description - he was made to
feel bad about himself. In Alice Springs Aboriginal English, being
brought up with shame would be the 'right way' to be brought up.
Having 'no shame' indicates the wrong behaviour in the circumstances,
that's when you should feel bad about yourself! This 'shift' in
meaning is due to the substrate languages having a word that people
translate into 'shame' in English, when that's not exactly what is
meant, eg 'apure', Eastern Arrernte, and 'kurnta' in Warlpiri. This
has been discussed by Jean Harkins in the Australian Journal of
Linguistics, and in her book "Into Another World".
So... what does it mean to be shameless?

Sue Morrish, Teacher Linguist, Institute for Aboriginal Development,
Alice Springs Northern Territory, Australia 0870.
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