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I've been feeling the need for an Australian corpus for a long time - do people really speak the way I so confidently say to our students that they do? Maybe not...

Anyway at the last Australian Linguistics Society (ALS) conference, there was a meeting on establishing the Australian National Corpus initiative. As a result, they're planning an HCSNet Workshop on Designing the Australian National Corpus to be held in Sydney (4-5 December 2008), as well as getting the National Audit of Language Data in Australia rolling. The call for papers for this workshop will be distributed very soon.

If you want to add your name to their statement of common purpose (attached below) and be on the mailing list, contact Michael Haugh [m.haugh (AT griffith.edu.au)] or Cliff Goddard [cgoddard (AT une.edu.au)]

Statement of Common Purpose:

We the undersigned agree to support the building of an Australian National Corpus.

We propose that this be a national online corpus of spoken and written data that includes both donations from existing language corpora, including English in Australia data (encompassing Australian English, Aboriginal Englishes, ethnic/migrant Englishes, intercultural/lingua franca Englishes), Aboriginal languages data, and migrant languages data, as well as providing a strong foundation for the principled gathering of further data.

We further propose that such a corpus should be freely accessible and useful to the maximum number of interested parties (to the extent that the level of consent gathered from participants allows), and that engagement in a particular theoretical framework need not hinder donations or access to the corpus. Indeed the aim of developing a freely available national corpus is that it can become an ongoing resource not only for linguists, but also historians, sociologists, social psychologists, and those working in cultural studies with an interest in Australian society or culture. We therefore see such a corpus as an important part of the development of research infrastructure for humanities researchers in Australia.

We also propose that the corpus include original audio or audiovisual recordings where possible, as well as written transcripts made of these recordings of spoken interaction when available, as current technological developments lead us to believe that there is potential for flexibility in terms of the online platform and meta-tagging chosen.

Australian Linguistics Society
4 July 2008


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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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