Upcoming lecture: Payi Linda Ford – New ways for old ceremonies

Payi Linda Ford will deliver the Alfred Hook Lecture at 5pm on Wednesday 11 May 2016 at the Charles Perkins Centre Lecture Theatre, Building D17, Johns Hopkins Drive (off Missenden Road), The University of Sydney NSW 2006

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PARADISEC activity update

It’s been a busy start to 2016 for PARADISEC. Nick Thieberger published an article about the race to preserve Pacific Language Records in The Conversation. New collections archived this year in PARADISEC include Danielle Barth’s Matukar Panau documentation from Papua New Guinea, Alan Walker’s Sabu materials from Indonesia, Lila San Roque’s Mnanki, Arso and Duna collections from Papua New Guinea and a large collection (RB5) from Roger Blench, containing a Continue reading ‘PARADISEC activity update’ »

Guiding language consultants’ individual projects: Negotiating organizational issues in the field – a MLIP recap

Rosey Billington recaps the March Linguistics in the Pub (LIP), a monthly informal gathering of linguists in Melbourne to discuss topical areas in our field.

In Melbourne, the first Linguistics in the Pub (LIP) of 2016 was held on the 23rd March at University Hotel. Our topic was “Guiding language consultants’ individual projects: Negotiating organizational issues in the field”, and the discussion was led by Elena Mihas (James Cook University/U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee).

Linguists involved in language documentation work closely with users of a language to collect data during fieldwork, but there are additional possibilities for engaging in productive work with language consultants, both while the researcher is there, and in between visits. Building on previous LIP discussions of supporting community researchers and models of community engagement, we considered some of the ways scaled-up language documentation work might be implemented, with mutual benefit. Some background information, and links to suggested readings, can be found with the event details.

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Chasing John Z’graggen’s records

This week a suitcase of audio tapes will arrive in Melbourne from Madang in PNG. While a lot of the effort of building collections in PARADISEC goes in finding tapes and encouraging people to deposit their recordings, there are some collections that stand out for the amount of work required. This is the story of one of them.

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Reading HyperCard stacks in 2016

HyperCard (HC) was a brilliant program that came free with every Macintosh computer from 1987 and was in development until around 2004. It made it possible to create multimedia ‘stacks’ (of cards) and was very popular with linguists. For example, Peter Ladefoged produced an IPA HyperCard stack and SIL had a stacks for drawing syntactic trees or for exploring the history of Indo-European (see their listing here). Texas and FreeText created  by Mark Zimmerman allowed you to create quick indexes of very large text files (maybe even into the megabytes! Remember this is the early 1990s). I used FreeText when I wrote Audiamus, a corpus exploration tool that let me link text and media and then cite the text/media in my research.

My favourite HC linguistic application was J.Randolph Valentine’s Rook that presented a speaker telling an Ojibwe story (with audio), with interlinear text linked to a grammar sketch of the language. I adapted that model for a story in Warnman, told by Waka Taylor, and produced as part of a set of HC stacks called ‘Australia’s languages’ and released in 1994. Continue reading ‘Reading HyperCard stacks in 2016’ »

Open Access Publishing: A LIPIL discussion

Jonas Lau recaps last week’s Linguistics in the Pub in London (LIPIL), a monthly informal gathering of linguists to discuss topical areas in our field.

The first LIPIL gathering of the new year was held on 26th of January in a new location, The Duke, which is also planned to be the location of future meetings. Researchers, faculty and students of SOAS attended the event, which was mediated by Lauren Gawne.

This month’s topic dealt with the advantages as well as the difficulties and problems caused by open access publishing. We specifically focused on open access publishing, although the discussion is obviously closely related to issues in open access archiving and open access data sets. Among the participants, different perspectives on the topic were represented: While some linguists considered themselves primarily as consumers of (open access) publishing, others could contribute their own experiences having worked as publishers and/or editors.

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Toolbox to Elan

In the spirit of solving small frustrations I offer my weekend experience of getting Toolbox files into Elan. I have over a hundred texts in Nafsan, most of which are time-aligned and interlinearised. I am working with Stefan Schnell on adding GRAID annotation to some of these texts and the preferred way of doing this is in Elan, with the GRAID annotation at the morphemic-level. I tried importing Toolbox files using the Elan ‘Import’ menu, and had listed all field markers in Toolbox, together with their internal dependencies (which should then map to Elan’s relationship between tiers). These settings are stored in an external file. Unfortunately, the import failed several times, despite changing the settings slightly after each attempt. Continue reading ‘Toolbox to Elan’ »

PARADISEC activity update

We are working on a collection of tapes made by Mary Ayres, Ph.D. during doctoral research conducted between 1979 and 1981 in numerous dialects from two language groups in the Morehead District, Western Province, Papua New Guinea. At ANU we have started working on Don Kulick’s recordings of Gapun (PNG). In Sydney and Melbourne we are working to digitise tapes from the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, including some of Terry Crowley’s Paama tapes and Wolfgang Sperlich’s Namakira among many others.

In Melbourne we continue to work on Alan Walker’s Timor recordings and have a volunteer, Epi Dowling, scanning field notebooks. We are also working through Darrell Tryon’s tapes and will soon start on the last set of Ian Green’s recordings from the Daly region.

In Sydney we have just digitised Melissa Crowther’s tapes from Sandaun Province, Papua New Guinea of Barupu, Puare and Rawo language materials. PARADISEC is also providing expert assistance to a Linkage Project based at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, digitising important recordings associated with the Central Land Council. We have started with Petronella Vaarzon-Morel’s tapes recorded from the 1970s onwards, and are working with our Canberra partners, DAMsmart to digitize some unusual film and video formats.

Urban Fieldwork: A LIPIL discussion

Martha Tsutsui recaps last week’s Linguistics in the Pub in London (LIPIL), a monthly informal gathering of linguists to discuss topical areas in our field.

The third LIPIL gathering was held at The Perseverance on November 10, 2015. Mediated by Charlotte Hemmings a gathering of linguists assembled to discuss the topic of “urban fieldwork”.

First to be considered was the question “what is urban fieldwork?” Several definitions were put forth and discussed. Some suggestions included fieldwork done “in city centres”, “in dense areas of immigrants/expats/displaced peoples”, or “in multilingual and multi-ethnic areas”. The issue of what makes urban fieldwork specifically urban was also examined. Is it the size of the city? The lifestyle of the inhabitants? The degree of cosmopolitanism? Can urban fieldwork be done in rural areas if the speakers are members of diaspora groups? The existence of pockets of diaspora groups in rural areas with limited contact was mentioned. Would fieldwork with such groups nevertheless be considered “urban”? Many members agreed that the term “urban fieldwork” is most usefully viewed as a relative term, on a continuum rather than as a dichotomy of “urban” vs. “rural” or “urban” vs. “in situ”.

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Why document endangered languages? A LIPIL discussion

Martha Tsutsui recaps last week’s Linguistics in the Pub in London (LIPIL), a monthly informal gathering of linguists to discuss topical areas in our field.

The second Linguistics in the Pub in London (LIPIL) event was held on October 6th at The Perseverance and was attended by students and faculty from SOAS and other nearby universities. The discussion topic of the evening was “Why Document Endangered Languages?” Everyone present agreed that documenting languages was generally a good idea, but had different reasons for supporting this activity.

Throughout the discussion, common misconceptions about language loss and language documentation were brought up. Group members report finding that the general public can often be short-sighted in regards to the issue and often react with remarks and sentiments of “why bother?” In part, it is this public lack of understanding that hinders the fight for endangered languages. Continue reading ‘Why document endangered languages? A LIPIL discussion’ »