The late nineteenth century saw a wave of Indian, Syrian and Afghan immigrants arrive in Victoria, Australia, many of whom took up the highly mobile and audible occupation of hawking. New transnational and Imperial histories have illuminated the racially circumscribed mobility of colonial and Imperial subjects in traveling in and across Empire(s). In this article I conceive the Hawker’s License Courts of colonial Victoria as linguistic “nodes” where met subjects from locales in and beyond the British Empire. I argue that further than studying the mobility of colonial subjects, and of Indian hawkers in Victoria in particular, focusing on the speech uttered by hawkers demonstrates the importance of studying the linguistic colonial past. Doing so brings into focus the spatially located processes by which Whiteness and English language ability were gaining affinity in the late nineteenth century.

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