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KRIOL, also Roper River Creole/Kriol, Roper Pidgin. An English-based CREOLE spoken mainly in northern Australia, from western Queensland, across the Barkly Tablelands and Roper River Basin throughout much of the top half of the Northern Territory and into the Kimberleys of Western Australia. A CONTACT LANGUAGE between Aborigines and outside groups, it is now used in over 100 Aboriginal communities by more than 20,000 people, at least half of whom have it as their primary language. Kriol is a continuum of varieties, from hebi Kriol (heavy creole: the BASILECT) to lait Kriol (light creole: the ACROLECT). Speakers of hebi Kriol are mostly mother-tongue speakers of an Aboriginal language who use Kriol as a second language. Extreme lait Kriol includes virtually all the contrasts of mainstream English.

A word in Kriol may have several different pronunciations: policeman may be balijiman (basilect), blijiman (MESOLECT), plisman (acrolect). Most of the vocabulary is from English, in some cases with meanings altered to parallel the semantic range of equivalent words in Aboriginal languages: kukwan (from ‘cooked one’) means ripe as well as cooked. There are also some Aboriginal words: munanga a person of European descent. The grammar of Kriol shares some features with English-based PIDGINS and creoles in the Pacific: (1) The form of the transitive marker on verbs is -im/-um, as in kilim to hit, kukum to cook. Compare TOK PISIN kilim, kukim. (2) The use of bin as a completive auxiliary: Ai bin rid det buk I have read the book. Most of the limited Kriol morphology is associated with the verb and there are five prepositions which indicate grammatical relations: blonga (from ‘belong’), as in Aibin gibit im mani blonga daga I gave him some money for food; longa (from ‘long’), as in Imbin bogi longa riba He swam in the river. Other prepositions include fo for, from from, garram with, as in: Olubat bin kaman from deya They came from there; Deibin hambagam mi fo daga They pestered me for food; Melabat kaan go garram yumob We cannot go with you people. Kriol has a distinct orthography and a growing literature. In 1975, a school in Bamyili, where Kriol is a major language, was permitted to introduce it as the language of pre-school instruction. In 1979, permission was sought and obtained from the Northern Territory Department of Education for the introduction of a bilingual programme, despite opposition from those who did not consider Kriol a real language. See ABORIGINAL ENGLISH, AUSTRALIAN PIDGIN.