How to Speak Australian: With Sarah Verdon


Sydney Olympic Stadium

Well, I did it! I found someone to talk to me about this amazing Australian culture and the languages of its people.  Not only was she born and raised in Australia, but she is a speech-language pathologist (therapist over there) and a PhD student who studies cultural and linguistic diversity.  Yeah, I hit the jack pot on this one:)

two SLPs one American one Australian

 

While I was at a conference at the Sydney Olympic Stadium, I was able step away for a bit to get a brief interview with Sarah Verdon.  It was interesting to learn about how she views cultural and language differences in children.  I especially liked her insight on what role SLPs have in regard to language differences and disorders and cultural identity.

 

Having been in Australia for almost 2 weeks, what I found most intriguing about the Australian Aboriginal languages (known as Aboriginal Australian English) is that there seems to be somewhat of this strange “conglomeration” from aspects of America’s African American English dialect and aspects from our own Native American languages that seem to be slowly fading away.  What’s also interesting to me is that there seem to be more linguistic similarities globally than I had first imagined, mostly stemming from these mainstream versus non-mainstream ways of speaking.

 

From my talks with other Australians, a museum visit with my fiancé, and listening to Sarah, I got the impression that the racism and discrimination of Aboriginal Australians (not quite sure if this applies to all Indigenous Australians) was/is similar to that of African Americans (they even use terms of “Black” versus “White”), but the issues surrounding original land inhabitants and loss of native languages spoke more to our Native Americans and their current challenges and histories*.  But, I must admit that my ignorance in this department really leads me to want to learn more.

 

There doesn’t seem to be too much of a stretch convincing people that Aboriginal Australian English (do I dare say Englishes?) is a legitimate language aside from mainstream Australian English language.  However, I wonder if this legitimacy has to do with their own native roots to the land?  Just trying to understand why it is so hard for us Americans to accept the legitimacy of our own African American English and other non-mainstream dialects/languages…hmmm, must do more research.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Sarah Verdon!

 

 

*This is not to say that Native Americans do not suffer from racism and discrimination, I just found more familiarity with the racism experienced by Blacks in America.  I’m aware that this also may be a biased point of view because of my own race.