Kriol GPSes

I'm back in Boston for the summer and very much enjoying the r-lessness and general craziness of vowels. The blast of hostility from the guy who hands out tokens at the T station is fantastic because by varying the number of tokens I buy I can get him to say all sorts of things that my dialect won't do (yeah, I know, this is childish, and I was here for 5 years not too long ago after all, but you don't hear that much of a Boston accent in Houston).

Anyway, recently we hired a car and it had one of those "Neverlost"(TM) GPS systems in it. It was fun for a while. We got it to find the nearest supermarket (we were in the car park at the time, so it was a test, which it failed). We got sick of the English directions after a while so we changed the display language a few times (Italian, Dutch, etc). This of course got me thinking about the possibilities for Kriol/Aboriginal English GPS interfaces and my experiences in getting directions in remote Australia, usually from people who don't drive and who know exactly where they are going, and for whom the idea of having to ask for directions is a bit suss.

  • First up, a Kriol car GPS device would have no street addresses or numbers programmed into it. Navigation and final destinations would be purely by landscape features such as large boab trees in people's front gardens and how far from the highway it is.
  • Second, the directions would not be of the format "turn LEFT in .3 miles". There would be three directions only:
    • You gotta turn here.
    • You missed it.
    • Keep goin'.
  • Any attempt to elicit more explicit information would result either in one of the previous directions or an incredibly detailed description of how to get there, involving a long string of place names you've never heard of.

One response to “Kriol GPSes

  1. So what you’re saying is—to unify the two subjects of this post—a Kriol GPS device would be rather similar to a Boston GPS device, eh?

    Also, what are you getting the T station guy to say? (Craziness? Boston vowels are fairly conservative, thankyouverymuch.)

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