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June 2009

AIATSIS's Research Symposium on Bilingual Education is gathering pace. The program's now available. Audio recordings are expected to be available in a week's time.

Friday 26th June
8.30 – 9.00 Registration in the National Museum Foyer
9.00 – 9.30 Welcome to Country by Matilda House.
Introduction by Dr Lisa Strelein, Acting Principal, AIATSIS.

9.30 – 10:10 Mr Tom Calma (Australian Human Rights Commission)
They are Our Children, This is Our Community
10:10 – 10:30 Morning Tea

10:30 – 11:15 Dr Jane Simpson (University of Sydney), Dr Patrick McConvell (ANU) & Dr Josephine Caffery (ACU)
Gaps in Australia’s Indigenous Language Policy: Dismantling bilingual education in the Northern Territory

11:15 – 11:40 Leonard Freedman, Peggy Gallagher and Daphne Puntjina (Areyonga School)
Areyonga Two-Way School: What we do and why we do it

11:40 – 12:05 Rarriwuy Marika, Marrkiyawuy Ganambar-Stubbs (Yirrkala CEC), and graduates from the Yirrkala School Two-Way program
Dharktja Dhuwala Djambulu Maypa: My language has layers and layers of meaning.

12:05 – 12:30 Janet (Maxine) Nungarrayi Spencer, Connie Nungarrayi Walit & Wendy Baarda (Yuendumu community)
Nganimpa-nyangu kurdu-kurdu, nganimpa-nyangu Warlpiri Our children, our Warlpiri (language)
12:30 – 1:30 LUNCH

1:30-2:10 Ass. Prof. Brian Devlin (CDU)
Bilingual Education in the NT and the continuing debate over its effectiveness and value

2:10-2:50 Kathy McMahon (CDU) and Cathy McGinness (St John’s College)
Tales from the North: Bilingual pedagogy and sustainability

2:50-3:30 Prof. Joe Lo Bianco (University of Melbourne)
What Happened to Language Rights?
3:30-4:00 Afternoon Tea

4:00-5:15 Discussion Panel. Chair: Dr. Peter Toyne
Panelists: community members associated with NT Two-Way Schools; Prof. Joe Lo Bianco; Dr Inge Kral; Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney; Dr Jane Simpson

5:30 – 7.00 Reception at AIATSIS
Launch by Prof. Mick Dodson of:
J. Simpson, P. McConvell & J. Caffery 2009: Gaps in Australia’s Indigenous Language Policy: Dismantling bilingual education in the Northern Territory (AIATSIS Research Discussion Paper 24 - see here)

1 comments |

Peter K. Austin
Linguistics Department, SOAS

Two new groups of publications are now available from SOAS.

1. LDD 6
Volume 6 of Language Documentation and Description is now available. This volume is a fully-refereed collection of papers dealing with:

  • language documentation methodology
  • sociolinguistics and pedagogy for endangered languages
  • software applications

The papers were written specially written for the volume, and include the 2009 Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project Annual Public Lecture by Bernard Spolsky on the revitalisation of Maori. They represent important contributions to the theory and practice of the field of language documentation by leading scholars and younger researchers.


  • Editor's Introduction -- Peter K. Austin
  • Rescuing Maori: the last 40 years -- Bernard Spolsky
  • Dying to be counted: the commodification of endangered languages in documentary linguistics -- Lise M. Dobrin, Peter K. Austin and David Nathan
  • Data collection methods for field-based language documentation -- Friederike Lüpke
  • Audio responsibilities in endangered languages documentation and archiving -- David Nathan
  • Language management for endangered languages: the case of Navajo -- Bernard Spolsky
  • Language documentation and pedagogy for endangered languages: a mutual revitalisation -- David Nathan and Meili Fang
  • Managing linguistic diversity in the church -- Anicka Fast
  • Filming languages: implications of indigenous video production for language maintenance in Mexico -- Catherine Edwards
  • Documenting grammatical tone using Toolbox: an evaluation of Buseman's interlinearisation technique -- Stuart McGill

    Volume 6 costs £10.00 (postage and packaging is £2.50 extra). To order go to our website, download the order form, and follow the instructions.

    2. FEL books
    The Endangered Languages Academic Programme (ELAP) at SOAS has joined with the Foundation for Endangered Languages (FEL) to begin marketing and distribution of the series of publications produced by FEL over the past 10 years. There are 11 volumes available, covering a wide range of topics linking endangered languages to literacy, literature, land, language learning, media, multilingualism, migration and social impacts.

    To celebrate this ELAP-FEL collaboration, from 15th June to 15th September 2009 each FEL volume is priced at £12, a saving of 40% off the normal retail price (usually £20). This offer is for a strictly limited time only.

    To order your copies at this special price go to our website, download the order form, and follow the instructions.

[from Sally Dixon]

I was privileged to attend the WA Language Centres conference in Perth last week. Delegates from 5 regional language centres and several language programs spent three days swapping stories at the wonderful Kaditj internet café and conference facility, and probably could have talked for at least another week.

We were warmly welcomed by Noongar elders Dorothy Winmar and Gloria Nora Dann, and Justina Smith who shared her beautiful blend of contemporary and traditional Noongar dance. The progress of the Noongar language program has been breathtaking. Since presenting their very first book at the last conference only two years ago, the team (in partnership with Batchelor Press) has developed a great pile of resources with several different Noongar clans. There are also twelve short language lessons in development for NITV so stay tuned in for those. We also got to hear how language has been incorporated into the Djidi Djidi Aboriginal School in Bunbury. Moorditj!

2 comments |

From: Peter K. Austin
Department of Linguistics, SOAS

Last year I wrote about how mobile phones are being used to do "fieldwork at a distance", checking data with consultants, or collecting text messages of writing in endangered languages.

A recent blog post by ESL educator Tom Leverett alerted me to yet another possible technological aid for linguistic data collection and checking, Skype. Many of us know Skype as a way to make cheap (or even free) voice and video phone calls, but Tom points out another use for the software (in association with audio and video software) -- conducting and recording conversations. He reports on an experiment that he carried out with a colleague:

"Thom T., our lab director, who makes it his business to know these things, agreed to place a call, and sure enough, from my office to his, we not only had a call, but also recorded it; furthermore, he bundled up that tiny recording (he had recorded only a few minutes of it - still, he said, it was quite a large bundle) and sent that bundle to me over the text chat function that is right there on Skype ... one can send songs, movies, documents, anything, as one would on an IM or another chat function. But, you can do it, and look the other person in the eye as you do it. Look 'em in the videocam eye, anyway"

So, I thought, what about interviewing consultants on Skype and using it to collect material to be added to a documentary corpus, check grammaticality judgements, socialise with the community, get feedback on materials, or indeed, just about anything that involves two-way communication? There are, however, limitations, as Tom points out. Two of these are bandwidth and interference:

4 comments |

From: Peter K. Austin
Department of Linguistics, SOAS
7 June 2009

That's my tabloid journalist headline for what is a serious, some would say momentous, development in the history of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), namely the adoption last month by the Executive Committee of the LSA of an Ethics Statement [.pdf]. Its Ethics Committee has been working on a draft statement for the past two and a half years, and engaged in consultation within the Society.

There is an article dealing with the issue in this week's Inside Higher Ed, but it focuses on what I believe are two less important aspects of thinking about ethical issues in linguistic research, namely what could be paraphrased as "how to stop linguists from screwing things up" and "how to get round the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process".

4 comments |

From: Peter K. Austin
Department of Linguistics, SOAS
4 June 2009

This week's Chronicle of Higher Education has two articles by Peter Monaghan on endangered languages issues. The first is entitled Languages on Life Support: Linguists debate their role in saving the world's endangered tongues (viewable free on line, and includes material from interviews with Nick Evans, Michael Krauss, Richard Rhodes, Noam Chomsky, and myself. Some of the topics covered will be familiar to readers of this blog, like what Monaghan calls "a 'commando style' of recording trip" (something Jane wrote about as Fifo (fly in fly out) fieldwork).

2 comments |

Bilingual Education in the Northern Territory: Principles, policy and practice

AIATSIS Research Symposium

Date: Friday, 26 June 2009
Venue: Visions Theatre, National Museum of Australia, Canberra
Time: 9:00am – 5:15pm, followed by a reception at AIATSIS

4 comments |

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