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November 2009

Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre


Key position available in one of Australia’s leading language centres. This is a great opportunity to work in a vibrant and complex linguistic and cultural environment. Be part of a passionate, hard-working team. We are looking for an experienced, motivated linguist who can engage with the community and effectively manage the centre’s language projects. Highly developed linguistic analysis and staff management skills essential.

This is a full-time position based in Port Hedland.

The salary includes a $10 000pa housing allowance and attractive salary sacrifice options.

Applicants should address the selection criteria and attach a copy of a current resume and two referees to The Manager, WMPALC, PO Box 2736, South Hedland WA 6722 or manager AT wangkamaya.org.au by close of business Monday 7 December 2009.

For further information or a copy of the job description and selection criteria phone Nadine Hicks 08 9172 2344.

The Pilbara region of Western Australia provides a challenging and stimulating environment in which to carry out linguistic work. It contains 30 plus languages at varying levels of endangerment, some with over 100 competent speakers, and some with only a handful. Wangka Maya’s base in Port Hedland allows access to the many surrounding remote indigenous communities.

We are engaged in a wide range of interesting community projects, such as mobile phone dictionaries, multimedia language resources, grammars and interactive online dictionaries. We are also engaged in supporting other community and grass-roots organisations in their own language ventures. This is your chance to be part of the crucial work of language documentation, revitalisation and promotion. As Senior Linguist you will have the opportunity to manage a team of linguists and language workers, and to plan and direct the language work of the centre. You will be responsible for the high quality and appropriateness of all products. We welcome your ideas in all these areas.

Port Hedland is the economic centre of the Pilbara, therefore job opportunities for partners are readily available.

*Please pass on to your networks and pin up on relevant noticeboards*

[from Margaret Florey]

Endangered Languages of Austronesia (Oxford University Press, 2009), edited by Margaret Florey, is now published.

Many of the languages in the diverse and linguistically rich Austronesian language family are undocumented and endangered. This book draws together research from authors actively involved in language documentation to provide a critical account of current knowledge. It considers the linguistic effects of government policies and socioeconomic changes, describes the variety of responses by linguists to the language endangerment crisis and emphasizes realistic and practical solutions and interventions.

The editor's introduction draws out the key issues and themes. An overview of the Austronesian language family then examines the historical relations between the languages, their diversity, and their distribution in the region, and reviews the state of the documentation of languages. Individual chapters are devoted to the revitalization of languages in Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, East Timor, and Vanuatu.

Order requests: bookorders.uk@oup.com
£80, 304 pages, Maps, Tables, Figures; ISBN 978-0-19-954454-7

Contents and Contributors

Part I Overview
1: Margaret Florey: Introduction
2: Alexander K. Adelaar: An Overview of Language Documentation in the Austronesian World

Part II Linguistic Vitality: Theory, Assessments, and Challenges
3: Nikolaus P. Himmelmann: Language Endangerment Scenarios: A Case Study From Northern Central Sulawesi
4: Charles E. Grimes: Digging for the Roots of Language Death in Eastern Indonesia: The Cases of Kayeli and Hukumina
5: I. Wayan Arka: Maintaining Vera in Rongga: Struggles Over Culture, Tradition, and Language in Modern Manggarai-Indonesia
6: Thomas N. Headland: Why the Philippine Negrito Languages are Endangered

Part III Capacity Building and Revitalization Initiatives
7: Margaret Florey and Nikolaus Himmelmann: New Directions in Field Linguistics: Training Strategies for Language Documentation in Indonesia
8: Nick Thieberger: Anxious Respect for Linguistic Data: The Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC) and the Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity (RNLD)
9: Hannah Vari-Bogiri: Language Work in Vanuatu
10: John Hajek and John Bowden: Waima'a: Challenges for Language Description and Maintenance in East Timor
11: Peter Sercombe: Challenges Facing Eastern Penan in Borneo

Part IV Pedagogical Approaches to Revitalization and Maintenance
12: D. Victoria Rau and Meng-Chien Yang: Digital Transmission of Language and Culture: Rethinking Pedagogical Models for e-learning
13: Julie Barbour: Language Documentation and Literacy Development: The Neverver Literacy Project
14: Catherine Young: First Language Education in Multilingual Contexts

Index of Subjects
Index of Place Names
Index of Languages

In a few weeks' time reports and powerpoints on the ELIIP workshop will be up on the ELIIP website for discussion.

I took away memories of the beauty of the mountains and saltlakes, the strange comfortableness of bison, and a slight increase in knowledge about the Latter Day Saints - how can one not feel sympathetic to the nineteenth century Welsh Mormon who set sail for Zion equipped with an English and Welsh dictionary.

There’s a lively group of people at the University of Utah working on native American languages (from Brazil north to Ojibway). One project that especially struck me was a Shoshone outreach program. Several Shoshone were at the ELIIP workshop. Last year 10 Shoshone high school students came to the Center for a six week summer camp funded by a donation from a local mining company. In the program they learned some Shoshone language, as well as crafts from Shoshone elders. The students worked as paid interns to do some work on language documentation and prepare language learning material in Shoshone. It was a great introduction, not only to language documentation but to university life generally. What a good idea!]

Back to the workshop. Yes we need something like ELIIP - a list of endangered languages with information about them and pointers to other sources about them. But it won't work unless it is aimed at more than just linguists. And it must point to rich information. And it must be inclusive. And it must be simple to use. And, since there is very little money around, it must be designed to have as low maintenance costs as possible.

Summing up, I’d say the workshop allowed various ideas to gel about what the one-stop shop for languages would look like. I thought the most important were:

  • Avoid duplication. A lot of work has already gone into collecting material. Don’t waste it.
  • Data-freshness. People will be drawn to the site if they believe that the data is fresh, rich and reliable.
  • ...comes at a cost Whatever’s built has to be updatable and maintainable at minimal cost. So maintaining links - even with a web crawler - is beyond many sites
  • Buy-in If it’s to work, lots of communities, archives and linguists need to be able to add in material easily and to feel that it belongs to all of us
  • Simple interface for searching AND for uploading. This means paying for good design and testing with a range of users. Maybe there’ll be several interfaces for different types of user.
  • Wish-things
    • There was a strong swell of opinion in favour of digital archives where people could deposit digital data files and update information easily
    • Snapshots in time People will want to know what a language was like 10 years ago, 20 years ago - how many speakers, did children speak it and so on.
    • Localisation How to translate the material into other languages for countries where outreach on the importance of helping speakers keep their languages is really needed? Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Pidgins and French may be the main lingua francas for some of these areas.

A divide was proposed by Gary Simons between curated web services (where people create data and people manage that data) - like Wikipedia - and aggregating web services (where automatic harvesters harvest data from archives, libraries etc) - like Google. I think the consensus was that we needed both - linking to information that is out there, and filling in the gaps.http://www.language-archives.org/OLAC/metadata.html

3 comments |

[from Margaret Florey]

We are pleased to announce the formation of the Consortium on Training in Language Documentation and Conservation(CTLDC). The CTLDC has been established as an international response to the crisis confronting the world's languages by co-Directors Carol Genetti (University of California at Santa Barbara and InField founder) and Margaret Florey (co-founder and co-Director of the Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity).

The central aim of the CTLDC is to build a global resource for all those who are actively working to maintain linguistic diversity through fostering collaboration among people who are engaged in training in language documentation and conservation. The CTLDC will provide a critical network to foster communication and collaboration, and enhance the sharing of skills and resources.
An international Planning Group has been established to guide the development of the Consortium. The Planning Group (listed below) comprises representatives of organizations which are at the forefront of supporting linguistic diversity through planning and administering training programs, creating funding strategies to support linguistic diversity, designing tools to provide more accurate data on trends in linguistic diversity, establishing resource networks, and developing and influencing language policy. UNESCO's Intangible Heritage Section has agreed to host the first meeting of the Planning Group in Paris in late 2010. That meeting will allow us to prioritize activities and establish the structure and goals of the Consortium.

Following the 2010 meeting, the CTLDC will open for international membership and will begin to work towards its longer-term goals, to

  • construct a clearinghouse of materials accessible to LDC trainers and community members from across the globe,
  • provide a forum for the sharing of curricula, teaching and assessment strategies, and methods,
  • facilitate the explicit discussion of the goals and models currently being developed and implemented for training in language documentation and conservation (LDC),
  • encourage partnerships between trainers of varied backgrounds and experiences,
  • take into account a wide variety of perspectives and approaches by bringing together instructors from universities, communities, intensive institutes, school-based programs, language centers, and other initiatives,
  • promote new collaborations, exchange ideas, and support training efforts worldwide,
  • identify successful practices for LDC education,
  • establish ethical and other principles to guide practitioners in documentation, conservation, and capacity-building activities,
  • develop strategies to increase the range of funding opportunities to support LDC training at all levels,
  • publicize LDC activities and events to raise greater awareness about the importance of linguistic diversity.
We will continue to provide updated information as the Consortium develops, and we look forward to many of you joining us as members and sharing your expertise to further support linguistic diversity.


This blogpost comes to you from Salt Lake City at the University of Utah, thanks to the Center for American Indian Languages which is co-hosting a Workshop on Endangered Languages Information and Infrastructure (ELIIP) project with Linguist List(organised by Lyle Campbell, Helen Aristar Dry, Anthony Aristar). It's intended mostly for the specialist, but there's an interesting push to reach out to the general public- if they don't understand what we do, they won't support it. Cute and less cute facts help in conveying this - more on this later.

A thousand flowers on endangered languages are blooming on the web, from Wikipedia to blogs on particular languages to the language resources catalogued by libraries. Helen Aristar Dry suggested that users want to view the whole flowerbed from a convenient vantage point. That's the II of ELIIP: do we need a comprehensive catalogue/database/website/portal of endangered languages?

So suppose Jane LUser does a google search on the web for 'Ossetian language'.

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I was just sent this from ICTV Limited (Alice Springs) - looks like v good news

Indigenous Community Television Ltd
22 October 2009

Remote Aboriginal Communities to celebrate the return of their Indigenous Community Television service
An official launch of Indigenous Community Television – ICTV – will take place in DJARINDJIN COMMUNITY (200km north of Broome) at 6pm, November 13 2009.


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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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Endangered languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia

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Linguistic fieldwork preparation: a guide for field linguists syllabi, funding, technology, ethics, readings, bibliography

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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


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