LINGUIST List 22.4738

Mon Nov 28 2011

Diss: Anthro Ling: Nicholls: 'Referring Expressions and Referential...'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <>

        1.     Sophie Nicholls , Referring Expressions and Referential Practice in Roper Kriol (Northern Territory, Australia)

Message 1: Referring Expressions and Referential Practice in Roper Kriol (Northern Territory, Australia)
Date: 24-Nov-2011
From: Sophie Nicholls <>
Subject: Referring Expressions and Referential Practice in Roper Kriol (Northern Territory, Australia)
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Institution: University of New England, Australia Program: PhD Dissertation Status: Completed Degree Date: 2009

Author: Sophie Nicholls

Dissertation Title: Referring Expressions and Referential Practice in Roper Kriol (Northern Territory, Australia)

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics                             Discourse Analysis                             Language Documentation                             Pragmatics                             Semantics
Subject Language(s): Kriol (rop) Language Family(ies): Australian Pidgins and Creoles
Dissertation Director:
Cliff Goddard Brett Baker Jeff Siegel
Dissertation Abstract:

Referring Expressions and Referential Practice in Roper Kriol(Northern Territory, Australia)

In this thesis I describe aspects of referring expressions and referentialpractice in an English-lexified creole language spoken in the NgukurrAboriginal community, in the Northern Territory of Australia. Kriol hassubstrate influences from seven traditional Aboriginal languages. Dialectsof Kriol are spoken in Aboriginal communities across the Top End ofAustralia; with estimates suggesting more than 20,000 people speak it as afirst language. The language has a low status and in many contexts, such ashealth, medical and legal contexts, it frequently goes unrecognised as alegitimate language requiring interpreters. There is no comprehensivegrammar of Kriol and as yet, there have been few in-depth studies into itsstructure and use.

I investigate referential expressions in Kriol from various perspectives,using tools from a range of theoretical frameworks and research traditions,including descriptive linguistics, discourse analysis, informationstructure, and ethnopragmatics. The thesis provides an integrateddescription of how referential expressions are structured and how they areused in spontaneous talk to meet communicative needs. A further goal ofthis thesis is to demonstrate that there is significant continuity ofreferring strategies from Kriol's Aboriginal substrate languages. The dataused in this study consists of a corpus of spontaneous discourse betweentwo or more speakers, elicited material, and consultation with Elders oncultural issues relevant to language use.

Chapter One provides an overview of Kriol, its speakers and the Ngukurrcommunity. I discuss the development of Kriol; of particular significanceis that it developed over a number of generations, enabling the possibilityof continuity of cultural speech practices. Chapter Two provides a sketchof Kriol grammar, as well as an introduction to interactional style inAboriginal languages. Chapter Three provides a detailed description of theKriol noun phrase, as well as possessive and inclusory pronominalconstructions. Chapter Four draws on interactional data to describe thedistribution and function of a determiner, det. Using various diagnostictests, I show that this determiner is a definite article, and that itsdiscourse function is to indicate assumed 'familiarity' of the referent ofthe noun phrase. Chapter Five examines clause-level phenomena involvingreferring expressions in Kriol using tools from the theory of informationstructure. It includes a discussion of how the concepts of topic, focus and'accessibility' apply in Kriol discourse, as well as an empirical study ofleft and right-dislocated noun phrases.

Chapter Six is a description of aspects of communicative practice in Kriol,in particular, person reference and information exchange. This chapteremploys the 'cultural scripts' method of ethnographic description. It showshow cultural values and interactional norms influence aspects ofreferential practice in the Ngukurr community.

Each chapter contributes original description of the Kriol language. Bycombining a number of theoretical perspectives, the thesis offers anintegrated description of the structure and function of referring expressions.

Page Updated: 28-Nov-2011