« Sacred Earth Network - Endangered Languages Program | Blog home | Fieldwork workshops - Peter K. Austin »

business learning training articles new learning business training opportunities finance learning training deposit money learning making training art loan learning training deposits make learning your training home good income learning outcome training issue medicine learning training drugs market learning money training trends self learning roof training repairing market learning training online secure skin learning training tools wedding learning training jewellery newspaper learning for training magazine geo learning training places business learning training design Car learning and training Jips production learning training business ladies learning cosmetics training sector sport learning and training fat burn vat learning insurance training price fitness learning training program furniture learning at training home which learning insurance training firms new learning devoloping training technology healthy learning training nutrition dress learning training up company learning training income insurance learning and training life dream learning training home create learning new training business individual learning loan training form cooking learning training ingredients which learning firms training is good choosing learning most training efficient business comment learning on training goods technology learning training business secret learning of training business company learning training redirects credits learning in training business guide learning for training business cheap learning insurance training tips selling learning training abroad protein learning training diets improve learning your training home security learning training importance

A couple of weeks ago I watched "Samson and Delilah" at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station along with maybe 1700 other people, black and white, on the grass or swags and a few on camp chairs. It was a spectacular place for a premiere, the screen set up against red cliffs and white gums.

Several reviews have come out, by David Stratton, and by Julie Rigg on the ABC.

It's a bleak fairytale that's beautifully filmed and staged - the light at different times of day and in different places, the shadows when Samson is dancing, the strangeness of living under a bridge in the Todd River.

The squalor of petrol-sniffing, the violence, the dust and dirt in which the outstation dwellers live, the boredom and lack of hope and new opportunities are all too real. Some will take this as justification for the Intervention in the Northern Territory, without thinking about whether the Intervention is actually providing any alternatives, any real hope. In fact, life on the fringes of Alice Springs in this film is more hopeless and dangerous than life on the outstation.

The end is a fairytale ending, perhaps a fantasy of male hope - that a beautiful young woman would leave her own car and gun to go off with a petrol-sniffer, come back and find the car and gun still working, that she would have her own outstation, and would then dedicate herself to looking after the brain-damaged, wheel-chair-bound petrol-sniffer on her own. Julie Rigg takes this as the commitment demanded by love. I take it as obsession. Good outcome for Samson, lousy for Delilah.

David Stratton's review is entitled "A world beyond words" and words are what's absent in the film. Everyday chat, everyday laughter, everyday interaction, doing things together, all the things that make life on outstations much less bleak than the portrayal here. And the family connections are missing - are Delilah and Samson two lost children without parents, sisters, brothers, cousins, who no one looks out for? Or indeed without fellow petrol-sniffers?

Traditional religious practices (the mourning practices that result in Delilah getting hit on the head, and Delilah and Samson cutting their hair) provide less comfort than Christianity (crosses, churches, Delilah in her white hoodie coming to symbolise the Madonna).

Carrying the story mostly in silence highlights the fairytale quality, the obsession of Delilah and Samson with each other, and Samson's loss of speech from brain-damage. The people who do most of the talking (in Warlpiri) are the older women. Young Indigenous people are often silent in the presence of adults. But among themselves? If you don't know the kinds of things that teenagers talk about amongst themselves, then you can't risk false notes in the dialogue. Silence is safer. And perhaps that's a mark of ethnographic films made by grown-ups, by outsiders.

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.
More

Recently commented on

FAQ

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

Links

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

Projects

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