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...
•Not our Indonesian project.
The worst news is that, despite heaps of hard work from Linda Barwick and Nick Thieberger, PARADISEC did not get the major grant which is needed to keep our digital archive running past July next year. So, if any of our readers have suggestions for funding?
The good news is that, while linguistics generally did poorly, some projects on endangered languages and cultures DID get funded... Congratulations to:
Joe Gumbula and Aaron Corn: "Elder Assessments of Early Material Culture Collections from Arnhem Land and Contemporary Access Needs to Them among Their Source Communities".
There is enormous interest in Arnhem Land about the region's recorded history. In recent years, the return of digital materials from collections worldwide has become a significant and efficacious strategy for stimulating cultural maintenance there. The sense of history that these materials bring is proving invaluable in maintaining wellbeing and community in Arnhem Land amid the hardships of local life. Informed by custodians of the region's endangered languages and traditions, this project will produce findings of world heritage significance that will articulate the collections access needs of local people. It would be the first ARC project to be led by a Yolngu Elder.
David Bradley "Why and how do languages expand, coalesce or die? Lisu in China, Burma, Thailand and India"
This project extends Australian leadership of international cooperation in language contact research. Practical outcomes include a pandialectal dictionary of Lisu and literary materials which provide indepth background on the languages, cultures, religions and history of East, Southeast and South Asia. Like most nations, Australia has many indigenous and migrant languages which are under threat, many with dialect issues that further complicate the situation. The findings of this project may be directly applied for the maintenance and revitalisation of our indigenous languages, nearly all of which are now struggling for survival, and in similar efforts for migrant languages.
Andy Butcher; Janet Fletcher; Marija Tabain
"The relationship between speech production and perception in Australian language speakers: implications for speech development and learning in Aboriginal children"
Chronic ear infection blights the life of at least 50% of Aboriginal Australians. In a vicious cycle that extends from generation to generation, it leads to hearing loss, educational disadvantage, socioeconomic disadvantage and environmental depredation, which once again leads to ear (and many other) infections. This is a unique attempt by researchers across academic disciplines to study the role of language in educational disadvantage and whether this disadvantage might be made worse for Aboriginal children by the early use of English at school. We ask whether, on purely acoustic or linguistic grounds, communicating in an Aboriginal language might offer improved educational and health outcomes for Aboriginal children in the early years.
Tonya Stebbins "The Baining languages: a window on the history of Island Melanesia"
Papua New Guinea is Australia's nearest neighbour. The province of East New Britain is one of Papua New Guinea's most economically important regions due to its significant natural resources. However, it is also home to longstanding ethnic tensions over the distribution of land and resources. This project will increase Australia's understanding of the languages, cultures, history and politics of the province, and strengthen Australia's ability to make informed economic and political decisions in the area. The project will reinforce Australia's leadership in the field of Melanesian Studies, train postgraduate students, and strengthen strategic ties in the region.
Ghil'ad Zuckermann "Revival' in the Middle East: The Genesis of Israeli ('Modern Hebrew') lessons for revival of no longer spoken Australian languages"
This project will enhance mutual understanding within multicultural Australia: (1) helping community leaders seeking to apply the lessons of Israeli to the revival of nolonger spoken Australian languages; (2)assisting local Jews to explore their roots and substantially improving Israeli and Hebrew teaching methodologies at universities and Jewish schools in Australia. Globally, the project will enhance Australia's understanding of social, political and cultural conditions in the Middle East, by facilitating a clearer and more complex understanding of the languages and politics in the region. It will therefore make a valuable contribution to the war against terrorism, now the major threat to national security.
[If I've missed any more good news, please comment!]