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It's been a week for Indigenous Australian languages here in the Sydney area - the annual Australian languages workshop at Pearl Beach brilliantly directed by Joe Blythe, a new film on teaching NSW languages in schools, and finally the launch of Jennifer Biddle's new book Breasts, Bodies, Canvas: Central Desert Art as Experience (UNSW Press).

The Pearl Beach workshop had lots of good papers - see some comments by Bulanjdjan. And the discussion was good - the questions were extending and building questions, and not just peacock tail swishing. I was very taken with Brett Baker's paper on monogesturality, because it provides the hope of a new way of explaining the strange behaviour of homorganic nasal stop clusters. And then there was Aaron Corn and Joe Gumbula's fascinating paper on imagery in songs in Arnhem Land. This ended with Joe singing and Aaron accompanying him on the didgeridoo. Wonderful!

Next year Canberra people will be organising the workshop. Watch this space....

Then at the Friday Linguistics department seminar, Mari Rhydwen showed a new film made under the auspices of the NSW Department of Education and Training Aboriginal Languages section. about teaching Gumbaynggirr language in schools in the north of NSW. Some good modelling of planned energetic teaching.

Jennifer Biddle's launch took place at the School of Arts in late afternoon in a leafy courtyard. Four senior Lajamanu women, Lily Nungarrayi Hargraves, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert, Rosie Napurrula Tasman, Mollie Napurrula Tasman sang Kurlukuku (diamond dove) songs. They danced painted up with elegant detailed designs, and wore red skirts, red headbands and red armbands decorated with white feathers. Alas, lack of a microphone meant we didn't get to hear much of what they said afterwards, or of Jennifer's own speech - given in Warlpiri and translated into English. But the long queue for buying the book meant that I got to dip into the book - some lovely photographs complementing musings on writing, graffiti, painting as inscription. Like most linguists, I have no doubt that alphabetic writing is different from painting - but it's worth standing back and examining the reasons for this belief.

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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.

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