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In spite of a few early setbacks — including the workshop venue being eaten by termites — the Pearl Beach Papuanists' Workshop, or perhaps I should say the Itinerant Papuanists' Workshop, was held last weekend.

Everyone had something interesting to say at the workshop. We heard from a range of people from SIL field linguists to PhD students to professors. The weekend was filled with intensive (and exhausting) discussion of many different aspects of Papuan languages and linguistics. Our exhaustion was kept at bay, however, by the New Guinea Fair Trade coffee that Tom so thoughtfully provided.

Some of the most impressive talks came from PhD students in Melbourne University's language documentation program. Sebastian Fedden gave us a talk on reciprocal constructions in Mian. Later, he and Robyn Loughnane together presented their comparative work on the Ok family languages and Oksapmin and proposed a possible genetic relationship between the two. In another talk, Robyn and Lila San Roque from the ANU presented a survey of evidentiality in Duna and Oksapmin.

We had several other visitors from the ANU. Antoinette Schapper gave us a report on grammatical gender in Bunak, based on her recent fieldwork. Alan Rumsey presented the latest work of the ANU project on tom yaya sung narratives from the Highlands in New Guinea. He made very good use of pictures and sound in his presentation — it's very important when giving a talk not only to tell your audience about your latest research but also to entertain them. We also heard from Andy Pawley from the ANU, who told us about the striking similarities between English and Kalam rhyming jingles and what they tell us about the 'psychic unity of mankind'.

Carl Whitehead from SIL Papua New Guinea explained the intricacies of the pronominal system in Menya. We hope that in future more SIL linguists can join us. Their thorough work on many of the world's largely undocumented languages is often invaluable and it is great when the opportunity arises for them to share it with us.

Grammatical topics were well represented in other talks. Bill Foley from Sydney University discussed direct and inverse systems in Lower Sepik languages. Wakizaka Miwako from Adelaide University presented an outline of her proposed research into the effect of substratum languages on speakers' Tok Pisin. Syuntaro Tida from Kyoto University discussed the complexity of form-meaning correspondences in Dom. And Gerd Jendraschek from RCLT explored some historical developments in the grammar of Iatmul.

There were a few typologically oriented talks. Hilário de Sousa from Sydney University presented the preliminary findings of his survey project on switch reference systems in Papuan languages. And Mark Donohue from Monash University proposed a redefinition of the term 'Papuan' following typological principles.

The weekend was great fun. We look forward to organising the workshop again in the future and hope that it will become a regular event.

Below are a few photos taken by Hilário at the workshop.


Alan Rumsey's talk.
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Feeding time.
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