LearningTogether4OslopaperGenresandIndigenouslearners.doc

The nyungar data came from perth a city of 12 million

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and dwell in areas with predominantly non-Aboriginal populations. The Nyungar data came from Perth, a city of 1.2 million people, and can be assumed to represent the population of Western Australian Aboriginal people living under the most intensive non-Aboriginal influence. Distinctive Aboriginal discourse features within this population might be expected to be found much more strongly in populations living in areas more removed from European Australian influence. Learning Genres Table 1 shows the distribution of genres among 100 Yamatji texts and 100 Nyungar texts in our corpus: 3
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Genre Yamatji Lands Nyungar Lands Recount, 1 st person 50 57 Recount, 3 rd person 7 4 Recount, 3 rd person, attributed 9 1 Recount, collaborative 1 4 Narrative 4 5 Expository 1 4 Report 21 3 Procedure 4 1 Explanation 1 1 Conversation 1 1 Joke 1 Recount, 1 st person/Procedure 3 Recount, 1 st person/Narrative 3 Recount, 1 st person/Spinning a Yarn 1 Recount, 1 st person/Dramatization 5 Recount, 3 rd person/Dramatization 1 Recount, 3 rd person/Joke 1 Narrative/Recount 1 st person 3 Procedure/Recount 1 st person 1 Report/Dramatization 1 Total 100 100 Table 1: Genres Identified in 200 Aboriginal oral texts The data represented here enable a number of observations to be made about the genres which occur in the collective repertoire of these Aboriginal speakers. First, with respect to the range of genres occurring, it is apparent that it includes many of those which are represented in school curricula. The speakers here, left to choose their own genre in expressing themselves, obviously have a strong preference for the Recount, but they are not (as some writers have suggested) limited to that. Narrative, Expository, Report and Procedure are not genres beyond their communal repertoire, although it is clear that (with the possible exception of Report) they are not generally favoured means of expression. Report is a case worth additional comment. It is clear that the speakers in the Yamatji lands used this genre much more frequently than the speakers in the Nyungar lands. When we look more closely at the reports, we see that they tend to be particularized in their content. The speakers are usually reporting on something which they observed, be it an incident, a feature of the environment, or the behaviour of a bird or animal. The speakers were addressing investigators who, they knew, had travelled some 400 kilometres or more from the city to reach the Yamatji Lands and they were usually using the Report genre to inform them of local features or events. The same motivation was not present among the Nyungar speakers who were Perth dwellers, speaking to Perth dwellers. Another difference between the two populations which is worth noting is the greater frequency of use of the third person attributed recount among the Yamatji speakers. Such recounts might begin, for example, as follows: “My Dad told me this story once” (Y51) “My.. mob- my great grandfather he told my mum..
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  • Winter '08
  • Amos,Y
  • The Land, Indigenous Australians, Aboriginal Students, Ian G. Malcolm

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