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October 2006

Sociolingo's Africa is a general blog which includes posts about languages (the writer's based in Mali but draws together material from across Africa). There are some interesting posts on linguistics, literacy - including mother tongue language education. So much seems so familiar. Thanks to this blog I've learned about Litcam, Google, and UNESCO’s Institute for Lifelong Learning Launch “The Literacy Project” and of practical handbooks which looks it might be useful in our region: Handbook for Literacy and Non-formal Education Facilitators in Africa, and its predecessor, designed for use in Asia, Handbook for Non-formal Education Facilitators.

Other blogs I've come across recently:
• Will Owen's blog Aboriginal art and culture: an American eye - has extensive and thoughtful reviews of art shows, books and films related to Australian Indigenous ethnography. (thanks David!)

• the blog of a graduate student, David Kaufman, who includes glossed texts of different Northern and Central American languages in the blog, as well as discussions of the language.

• The Lexique pro blog has been created for information sharing on Lexique Pro which has the potential to be a useful tool for dictionary-makers and publishers. (Thanks to a posting by David Ker of the Nyungwe Project - Mozambique on the Lexicography list)

Fulbright journey to Turtle Island ( USA) is the travel-blog of Samia Goudie, an Australian Bundjalung / Mununjali woman visiting the United States on a Fulbright Scholarship to find out about "inter-generational trauma, healing and resilience in Indigenous communities". So far, mostly travel, but some stuff on work with Native Americans.

Registration for HCSNet's SummerFest06 closes tomorrow (Friday 27th October). If you're in Sydney in early december late November (27th and 28th to be exact... thanks Linda), there'll be lots of interesting courses related to Human Communication Sciences, including:
Introduction to Music Perception & Cognition,
Introduction to Human Computer Interaction: Personalisation and User Control,
Introduction to Cognitive Neuropsychology,
Bayesian Networks and Markov Models: User Modeling and Natural Language Processing,
Introduction to Fieldwork Methods,
Introduction to Auditory Perception,
Introduction to Psycholinguistics: Logic in Child Language Acquisition,
Introduction to Biometrics,
Time Series Analysis Applied to Music,
Human Factors: Decision Making,
Acquired Neurological Language Disorders,
Interactive Multimodal Systems,
Statistics for Linguistics,
Acoustics of Musical Instruments,
Signed Languages
and finally Auditory-Visual Speech Perception.
Disclaimer: I'm teaching the introduction to fieldwork methods course. Hope to see you there...


Suppose you're a linguist working in a community where
• the speakers have a shaky grasp of literacy
• community development workers have a shaky grasp on the speakers' languages
• there's an existing orthography which is crying out for improvement
My advice - block your ears to its cries....

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from the website:

In the past, four International Conferences for East Nusantara Linguistics have been held; three in Leiden (1998, 2001, 2005), and one at the ANU in Canberra (2000). With this fifth conference the location moves to Indonesia, and more specifically to the East Nusantara region. Also, the focus of the conference has been expanded to include both language and culture. The conference will be hosted by Universitas Nusa Cendana (UNDANA), with the support of Prof. Dr. Frans Umbu Datta, Rektor.

The aim of this conference is to bring together linguists, anthropologists, ethnolgraphers, musicologists, and others who work in the east Nusantara region to share the results of their research with each other. The East Nusantara region includes eastern Indonesia and East Timor, and Austronesian as well as non-Austronesian languages.

The confernce will be held at the UNDANA Language Center (Pusat Bahasa) on the Penfui campus. A welcome gathering will be held on the evening of 1 August. Main conference presentations will take place 2-3 August, with a conference dinner on 2 August. The main conference will be followed by a one-day workshop on Alor-Pantar(-Timur) languages on 4 August. More information on this workshop will be circulated through a separate announcement.


We don't know very much about the language of songs and poetry in many of the small societies in our region, so it's excellent that a group of researchers (Myf Turpin, Christina Eira, Tonya Stebbins and Stephen Morey) are putting on a workshop on the topic at the Australian Linguistics Society Conference 2007 in Adelaide, September 26-28. Here's the information:


Hello Language Hat readers

If you're new here, we're a blog based roughly on the theme of endangered languages and cultures. All of the authors are based at Sydney University as either staff or students.

If you're interested in Indigenous Langauge Education, Australian or Papua New Guinean languages, Fieldwork and Fieldwork Technology, amongst other topics listed under "categories" in the sidebar, then please click through to read on...

We've been making some minor changes to the blog in the last couple of days. Hopefully we can boost the feedback-ability of the site. We get a lot of visitors to old posts, who's comments simply get buried, so we've introduced "Recently commented on" in the sidebar.

Second, given that we have a pool of people that regularly comment, I'm going to try out TypeKey authentication. This means that to comment, you'll need to sign up for a TypeKey. After your first comment gets accepted, all of your comments will be auto-magically posted straight away.

I'm not sure if it'll all work, so don't be surprised if I change my mind in 5 minutes!

here goes...


Its not working, that's why you can't comment at the moment. I'll turn it off soon if we can't sort out the problems!


Commenting, the old way, is up again.


It's been very hard for ordinary city-dwelling Australians (i.e. most of us) to learn Indigenous Australian languages. Most universities don't teach them, and getting to Alice Springs for courses at the Institute for Aboriginal Development is out of most people's reach. Summer schools, such as the Gumbaynggirr and Gamilaraay ones mentioned in a previous post are rare. So it had to come, and it has, but in a rather unusual way. The first public online course in an Australian Indigenous language is run out of a demountable building in Alice Springs by the Ngapartji Ngapartji group. Trevor Jamieson and his family want to tell the story of how they, some of the Spinifex people, were forced to leave their lands during the missile testing in the 1950s and 1960s. They do this at arts festivals, using Pitjantjatjara, English, songs and dance. And they run an on-line language program, so that future audiences can understand the Pitjantjatjara talk in their performances.


We were very worried when we were told the other day that the Crommelin Field Station at Pearl Beach — where we were going to hold the Papuanists' Workshop — had suffered an attack from killer termites and had been declared unsafe (although it will be repaired by next year). This meant that our workshop was without a venue. So after much deliberation we decided to hold the workshop at the university.

Now we're at the university the workshop has some more space for audience members and is also a little bit more accessible to people in Sydney who did not want to commit to a weekend at Pearl Beach. If you're interested in coming to the workshop now that it's in Sydney, please send me an e-mail. You can find the program for the workshop and my contact information at http://www.arts.usyd.edu.au/departs/linguistics/ling/papuan_2006/pbpwpp2006.html My e-mail address is at the very end of the document. It's written in a way that is meant to be readable to people while confounding programs that search for e-mail addresses to add to spam mailing lists.

Our December conference is almost full, so if you were thinking of coming along, now is the time to register! The preliminary schedule is up, papers have been reviewed, everything is going along nicely (touch wood).

The third day of the conference is a workshop, with sections on audio and video recording, transcribing and managing your data, and producing outputs from this data. If this is more your thing you can come to just that. If you're interested in ELAN for transcribing or shoebox/toolbox, I thoroughly recommend it, but there'll be plenty of other useful stuff.

Here are some instructions to build your own video stabiliser (via Make). Its a copy of a much more expensive commercial version, designed to reduce shake in your video recordings. Of course, its not really going to help you be inconspicuous during your recordings...

In Central Australia, you often see Aboriginal people sitting on the ground, talking, and simultaneously drawing on the sand, smoothing it over when they've finished a point, and starting again. They might be recounting places along a journey, listing family members, drawing maps, or describing the movement of characters in a story. I'll call this 'sand talk'.

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Pretty soon the remote areas of Australia will be uninhabited. Drought and high fuel prices are forcing farmers and graziers off their land. And these, together with Government policies, are forcing Aborigines off their land. Along with the departure of the people will go their languages and societies. Gary Johns writes in The Australian (11/10/06):
"The Government has begun to stop supporting a recreational lifestyle in the name of preserving a culture."
Apparently Aborigines are to be 'refugees' or 'migrants' (Johns' words) in fringe camps around bigger towns. He thinks this is a Good Idea.

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The Australian Research Council's website today has survived the pressure of everyone wanting to know whether they've got winning tickets. I was in a few syndicates (PARADISEC, continuing the Aboriginal Child Language Acquisition (ACLA project), and a new project on Indonesian). And the lucky winners are...

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There've been two recent stories in the media about Indigenous language education - one on teaching Yuwaalaraay, the language of the Walgett area of NSW to local children, and the other on teaching the Western Australian language Bunuba in a private school in Melbourne. One's about language revival, and the other's about language tasting.


The Endangered Languages Academic Programme, Linguistics Department, School of Oriental and
African Studies, University of London, is seeking to appoint a Lecturer in Endangered Languages and a Post-doctoral Researcher in Language Documentation .


Regular summary of PARADISEC’s ever growing digital repository of sound and video recordings, images and text files, currently totalling 2,732 items representing 54 countries and 593 languages.


The preliminary schedule for the conference "Sustainable data from digital fieldwork: from creation to archive and back" is now up. There looks to be some really interesting projects on display. I had a sneak peek at EOPAS, a project to create a workflow and display interlinearised texts, and annodex, a project to display multiple streams of visual, audio and textual data, both of which look great. I'll also be talking about the FieldHelper tool I've been working on this year, a tool to add in the tagging of arbitrary metadata to field work data, amongst other things.

Our registration quota of 40 places is fast filling up. Please register now if you wish to come, also note that you can choose to come to the third day workshop if your interest in more in practical experience with current digital field work tools.


Behaving in a good way to the people one is working with is vital - unethical researchers do damage to communities in the short-term. And they do incalculable longterm damage, because communities that feel burned by researchers will reject other research proposals which might benefit them. There's a new publication addressed to Indigenous people on how to deal with health researchers. It's a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) booklet Keeping research on track: a guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about health research ethics. In the past, the NHMRC guidelines for working with Indigenous people have been taken as models in other disciplines. And so it's important for us to look at them, even though linguists don't go sticking needles into people, and a grammar is of less direct benefit than the results of a study of the causes of kidney failure.

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RNLD in collaboration with the conference "Sustainable data from fieldwork" is offering a day-long session on the creation, organisation, annotation and display of digital media. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in making digital recordings and annotating them. If you're new to shoebox or ELAN and have any questions about using it, and you have your own data, then bring along your laptop. The workshop will be held at Sydney University on Wednesday, December 6, 2006.

Read on for the specifics


James McElvenny has put up the preliminary program for the Pearl Beach workshop on Papuan languages. How can you miss "Kalam Rhyming Jingles" "Books, papayas and chicken cries in Bunak", or the drum rolling finale: Mark Donohue "The end of Papuan"?

The workshop runs from the evening of Friday the 27th of October to Sunday the 29th of October at the Crommelin Field Station, Pearl Beach, Sydney.

Pitjantjatjara people in South Australia are thinking of abandoning their experiment with monolingual English education after fifteen years. At the same time, some communities in the Northern Territory are suffering from dysfunctional schools which happen to be bilingual, and so are thinking of abandoning their bilingual education programs, and the attendant teaching positions for community members. Churn churn. It's not about whether the program teaches English literacy and numeracy only. It's about children understanding what is happening in the classroom, and it's about communities understanding language shift. The evidence is that dropping bilingual education is no magic silver bullet for a miraculous improvement in children's English language and literacy.

But there's more evidence that bilingual education can produce better results than monolingual education. In The Australian Anthropological Society Newsletter Number 103, September 2006 (thanks David!) is an article by Ute Eickelkamp On a Positive Note: The Anangu Education Service Conference. Ute describes a conference held in Alice Springs in which half of the more than 200 delegates were Anangu staff and tertiary students "and many discussions and workshops were held in Pitjantjatjara". Yes!


Here is a technological update to my previous posting on recording conversation.
I consider myself very privileged to be able to visit the Department of Linguistics at UCSB, where I have been lucky enough to audit a number of courses, including Jack Du Bois’ course on discourse transcription. Today we were introduced to a very nice piece of equipment, the Edirol R-09 ultra-portable flash ram recorder. This piece of equipment is about the same dimensions as an i-pod, although a bit fatter.

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Thanks to prowling around the web, we've come across Vakaivosavosa, a blog about Fiji and the Pacific, life, history and culture, which has lots of links to material on the Pacific and other blogs.

AND - how cool is this.. TLaC's first citation in a blog about a minority language in that minority language! o chemeco d'as parolas (en aragonés) is written in Aragonese, spoken in Spain. The writer comments on the applicability of Joe Blythe's post on video recording, and the blog has links to a number of blogs in Aragonese.

We'd like to find blogs written in languages of our region - send us the URLs!


Every dead ethnographer (Indigenous or non-Indigenous) had a tin trunk in which all the information on the people, the language, the culture, anything, yes anything you want to know, could be found. But, I'm sorry, aunty died last week, and we don't know WHERE that tin trunk is now. (Source of observation: Michael Walsh). The anthropologist Ursula McConnel who worked with Wik Mungkan people on Cape York Peninsula, died in 1957, and people have been looking for her trunk ever since.

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The Authors

About the Blog

The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.


Papua New Guinea FAQs from Eva Lindstrom Papua New Guinea (New Ireland): Eva Lindstrom's tips for fieldworkers

Australian Languages Answers to some frequently asked questions about Australian languages

Papua Web Information network on Papua, Indonesia (formerly Irian Jaya)

Hibernating blogs

Indigenous Language SPEAK

Langguj gel Australian linguistics and fieldwork blog

Interesting Blogs

Omniglot Writing systems and languages of the world

LingFormant Linguistics news

Language hat Linguistics news and commentary

Jabal al-Lughat Linguistics news and commentary on a range of languages

Living languages Blog with news items and discussion of endangered languages

OzPapersOnline Notices of recent work on the Indigenous languages of Australia

That Munanga linguist Community linguist blog

Anggarrgoon Claire Bowern's linguistics and fieldwork blog

Savage Minds A group blog on Anthropology

Fully (sic)

Language on the Move Intercultural communication and multilingualism

Talking Alaska: Reflections on the native languages of Alaska

Culture matters: applying anthropology Australian anthropology blog: postgraduates and staff

Long Road ethnography and anthropology blog - including about Australia

matjjin-nehen Blog on Australian linguistics, fieldwork, politics and the environment.

Language Log Group blog on language and linguistics


E-MELD The E-MELD School of Best Practices in Digital Language Documentation

Tema Modersmål Website in Swedish with links to sites on and in many languages

Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project: Language Documentation: What is it? Information on equipment, formats, and archiving, and examples of documentation

Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources a worldwide network of organizations, academics, activists, indigenous groups, and others representing indigenous and tribal peoples

Technorati Profile

Technology-enhanced language revitalization Include ILAT (Indigenous Languages and Technology) discussion list.

Endangered languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia

Koryak Net Information on the people of Kamchatka

Linguistic fieldwork preparation: a guide for field linguists syllabi, funding, technology, ethics, readings, bibliography

On-line resources for endangered languages

Papua New Guinea Language Resources Phonologies, grammars, dictionaries, literacy, language maps for many PNG languages

Resource network for linguistic diversity Networking practitioners working to record,retrieve & reintroduce endangered languages


ACLA child language acquisition in three Australian Aboriginal communities

DELAMAN The Digital Endangered Languages and Musics Archives Network

PARADISEC The Pacific And Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures

Murriny-Patha Song Project Documenting the language and music of public songs and dances composed and performed by Murriny Patha-speaking people

PFED The Project for Free Electronic Dictionaries

DOBES Endangered language documentation and archiving, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and sponsored by the Max Planck Institute, Nijmegen.

DELP Documenting endangered languages at the University of Sydney

Ethno EResearch Exploring methods and technology for streaming media and interlinear text