> July 2010 - Transient Languages & Cultures
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

« June 2010 | Blog home | August 2010 »

July 2010

Another grammar of an Australian language is to be launched: Amanda Lissarague's grammar and dictionary of Gathang (see 2008 blog-post on launch of other books published by the ever-productive Muurrbay and Many Rivers Language Centre).


I've just been devouring Andrew ('Yakajirri') Stojanovski's 2010 book Dog ear cafe: how the Mt Theo program beat the curse of petrol sniffing. Melbourne: Hybrid Publishers. It's a terrific read (you can download a sample from the publisher's webpage).

UPDATE: 2/9/2010:
This book is being launched "in conversation with Rachel Perkins" on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 6.00 for 6.30pm.
Venue: gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe
Cost: Free
RSVP: gleebooks - 9660 2333 or request a place via the gleebooks' secure server
Or you can buy it from gleebooks here.

As a portrait of life among the Warlpiri, it's up there with Yasmine Musharbash's Yuendumu everyday: contemporary life in remote Aboriginal Australia. She talks about Yuendumu from the point of view of an anthropologist living in the single women's camp; he does it as a community worker trying to balance his marriage with throwing himself into helping Warlpiri people work with petrol sniffers. (For other earlier excellent ethnographies see the list David Nash maintains.)

In its astonishing honesty about the author's feelings and actions (the good, the silly and the dangerous), Dog ear cafe is up there with the honesty of Neil Murray's autobiography, Sing for me, countryman (Rydalmere, N.S.W.: Sceptre 1993)* (and see my blogpost).

Here are some of the many things I liked about Stojanovski's book:

  • the reflections on the intercultural teamwork needed to create Mount Theo outstation as a place to allow petrol sniffers to regain their lives.
  • the recognition that intercultural misunderstanding works both ways - most notably in the incident where a young Warlpiri boy says in shock when criticised for upsetting Andrew: "Kardiya [white people] don't have feelings".
  • the suggestion that compassion is a defining Warlpiri characteristic (as exemplified by the ubiquity of the "poor thing" wiyarrpa) word in modern songs). At the same time he recognises that of course not all Warlpiri show it.
  • the discussion of humbug (demand sharing) as mutual obligation, as 'teamwork'.
  • the account of how to reconcile everyone's need and desire for vehicles with the need for an emergency vehicle at the outstation.
  • the discussion of how hard it is for Yapa (Warlpiri people) to reconcile the obligations of family life with the impartiality demanded of workers in most Australian organisations. (He argues that whitefellas are seen as neutral like Switzerland- I'd go for 'maybe more neutral' rather than 'neutral').
  • the importance and difficulty of having D&Ms (deep&meaningful conversations) with petrol sniffers, and the generous recognition that another of his associates, Karissa Preuss, is very very good at this - in fact the book is filled with the generous recognition of the skills of his associates. No wonder the team worked well.
  • the breathtaking exuberant desire to Get Things Done, save petrol sniffers from themselves. This led the Government to award OAMs to Stojanovski and his colleagues Japangardi and Peggy Nampijinpa Brown. It also led to all sorts of things that would have him hung, drawn and quartered by all but the most enlightened ethics committee and government agency. He knows this, but justifies it from the fairly unarguable position that the alternatives would have been more harmful. (Read the book to find out more...)
  • having a glossary at the back which contains many accurately spelled Warlpiri words

The book leaves me with a great deal of admiration for what Nampijinpa, Japangardi, Stojanovski and their associates achieved, a lot of sympathy for the women and the managers and Government people in Stojanovski's life, and above all with gratitude to him for telling the story his way.


The final release of Wunderkammer Import Package 2 is now available for download. Check out the Wunderkammer website for more info.

Thanks to everyone who pointed out bugs and made suggestions for improvement. In this release several bugs have been squished and a bit of input validation and some friendlier error messages have been added.

Work now begins on version 2.1! Keep the bug reports and other comments coming.

[from Myfany Turpin, our person in the Northern Territory]

Last Sunday I was fortunate to attend the ‘2010 Ali Curung traditional Dance festival’ in the NT organised by the Arlpwe Art and Culture centre. It appeared that the whole community turned out for the show, and staff from DesArt and Winanjjikari Music Centre no doubt worked tirelessly to put on this great event.

I arrived for the second day where a group of about 6 men sang a ceremony described by Geoffrey Small as jarda malya-malya a Warlpiri ceremony that involved a Dreaming track from Yuendumu to Hatches Creek. Following this Fanny Purrurla led Jiparanpa Yawulyu, from Warlpiri country. Then Mona Haywood led the singing of Tyarre-tyarre awelye, joined by Nancy and Trixie. This is a women’s ceremony from the Kaytetye country called Tyarre-Tyarre (more commonly spelt in the Warlpiri orthography, Jarra-Jarra). All three ceremonies had some 20 dancers, both young and old.

In between the ceremonies were break-dancing competitions for children. It took me a moment to adjust to the contrast in music, but not for the children who seamlessly moved from dancing ceremony to break-dancing in ochre. The day also involved spear-throwing and ‘flour’ races.

An interesting feature was the women’s painting preparations that went on outside earlier that day. Instead of singing, a recording of the previous night’s singing (again Mona, Nancy and Trixie) made by one of her relatives, was played on a tape recorder to accompany the painting up. With around 30 dancers to paint up, and Mona being the main singer (and she’s no spring chicken) perhaps this was to give her voice a break before the afternoon’s performance.

The last time a similar event was held at Alekarenge was at the Arlpwe Art and Culture centre opening at 2008. Before then, perhaps not since the Land Claim hearing or Purlapa Wiri in the 1980s. Those who witnessed the ceremonies at these events may have been disappointed yesterday with the numbers of singers. However I think it's amazing that there is anyone who still knows and sings these ceremonies at all, considering some historical factors, briefly mentioned below.

3 comments |

I've had a wonderful time over the last 5 years attending various HCSNet (Human Communication Sciences Network) summer schools and workshops. So it was sad to take part in the last WinterFest a couple of weeks ago at Bowral. I learned heaps from the courses (slides for most here) - I've listened to 2 tutorials on aspects of psycholinguistics and speech pathology (which made me even keener than ever not to get a stroke) and a fabulous presentation by Katherine Demuth on prosodic effects on child language acquisition, enjoyed one by David Hawking on how search engines work, given one on the syntaxes of Australian Aboriginal languages, and learned heaps from Myf Turpin on songs in Australia and from Andy Butcher on the phonetics of Australian languages.

Andy was describing how, while each general property of the phonologies of Australian sound systems can be found elsewhere (many places of articulation, no fricatives, no voicing contrast, no really high vowels), the whole package is perhaps unique. And he was speculating about functional pressures that might lead to the development of such systems - a reduction in the need to hear high and low frequencies would benefit people with hearing loss from middle ear infections. Great talk, great slides.

Andy very kindly gave me a copy, and boy am I hoping to use them (with suitable copyright acknowledgement of course!). it made me realise that what I really really would like is an open access powerpoint collection of slides that people were happy for others to use (with acknowledgement on the slides). It takes me FOREOVER to prepare powerpoints. And even so my layouts and diagrams are usually prettttttttty low-rent. Doing a handout is so much faster.

I am sorry that HCSNet's funding is finishing. It's been an excellent pilot answer to a major problem faced by researchers in Australia. That is, very often our home departments are too small to nurture a really productive research climate, while the university funding system has unfortunately promoted compartmentalisation, so that researchers rarely come into contact with people from other disciplines - lack of opportunity and lack of time. This has bad consequences for research training. In the Netherlands, a country with a similar population to Australia, and similar problems with small departments, a country-wide graduate summer school system has been institutionalised and financed by the Government for fields such as linguistics, in order to esnure that graduate students are exposed to a wide range of ideas. The HCSNet workshops and summer schools have acted as a successful pilot for such a system.

If you, like me, have benefited from the HCSNet workshops and summer schools, and want to see them continue, Chris Cassidy is collecting letters of support - go here for more information.


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.


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


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


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