A WEBSITE IS NOT AN ARCHIVE!!!!!!

I had a message from the ‘pop up archive‘ to say they are closing down and I should download my data. They were a website that allowed users to upload audio files that were then meant to be prepared for searching via automated recognition of features in the file.

Leaving aside the functionality of the site (I admit I did not get it to work with my files), I want to reiterate my frustration with websites that call themselves archives (ok, so in this case the title ‘pop up’ should have been a giveaway), only to disappear at the end of a funding cycle or the retirement of the researcher.

In part this frustration is also motivated by a recent project in which I compared languages that have little representation in the OLAC listing (see the earlier discussion of this here) of holdings in the world’s language archives but have had a grammar written recently. If a linguist has worked on a language in the past thirty or so years then it would be reasonable to expect that some primary records were produced, and that they should be in an archive. They may be in a repository that is not part of OLAC, in which case we can create a record to point to that collection. If they are not in any archive, the task is to ask the linguist if they need help to get the records into an archive. At PARADISEC we have been doing this, partly through our ‘Lost and Found’ survey, which has resulted in a number of collections of analog tapes being digitised and made available.
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PARADISEC activity update

Time for a 2017 PARADISEC activity update!

At our last update in May 2017 we held 25TB of archived material and now just 4 months later we have grown to 31TB of archived material! We have also increased the number of languages represented in the archive to 1116.

In the last 4 years PARADISEC has had 16,375 downloads, with 1058 registered users. Our catalog has had 11,000 sessions over the past 12 months. Significantly, these include 95 from PNG, 89 from Vanuatu, 33 from Fiji, 23 from the Solomon Islands, 20 from French Polynesia and 18 from New Caledonia.

Are Australia’s Community Languages worth studying? – report on the Melbourne Linguistics in the Pub 13th June 2017

A report on this month’s Melbourne Linguistics in the Pub by Ana Krajinovic (University of Melbourne / Humboldt University)

Our discussion this week was led by James Walker who asked us an intriguing question about the linguistic research areas represented in Australia. Coming from the background of studying variation and change in community languages in Toronto, James became interested in these research topics in the Australian context. Melbourne is a multilingual city, and just like in Toronto, community languages brought through immigration by non-English speakers started appearing in Melbourne in the 20th century. We asked ourselves why the linguistic diversity of different communities isn’t equally well represented in the Australian research agenda. Is the study of indigenous languages of Australia seen as inherently more valuable and, if so, why?

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Maric dialect recorded by Edmund Kennedy in 1847

Guest post by Peter Sutton.

The published Barcoo River (Queensland) expedition diary of explorer Edmund Kennedy (1852) was augmented with unpublished manuscript sources and republished by Edgar Beale (1983). In the context of the present paper the key augmentation came from a handwritten copy of Kennedy’s journal for the period 01 April 1847 to 24 January 1848 made by Rev W.B. Clarke, and held by the Royal Geographical Society of London (RGS, see Beale 1983:96-97).

In an entry for 01 October 1847, Kennedy reported an encounter with Aboriginal people who were ‘without exception the most friendly and best behaved Natives I met with on the journey’. According to the RGS manuscript, Kennedy recorded:

We obtained from this party some useful words, which are correctly written, according to their sounds, River Victoria,1 “Barcoo”; Water, “Ammoo”; Grass, “Oo-lo-noo”; Fire, “Poordie” &c. (Beale 1983:142)

It is a pity that the rest of the list has not so far surfaced.

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Notes

  1. This name was later replaced by ‘Barcoo River’.

Categories in language descriptions and linguistic typology – Melbourne Linguistics in the Pub May 2017

Stefan Schnell (University of Melbourne) recaps last month’s Linguistics in the Pub (Melbourne)

Leading the discussion was Ana Krajinović (University of Melbourne / Humboldt University)

Introduction

The relationship between language-specific descriptive-analytical categories and categories figuring in cross-language comparative studies, and in particular the nature of the latter, have been subject of intensive and recurrent debate over the years, most recently in a dedicated discussion at last year’s SLE conference in Naples, and a focused discussion in the last October issue of Linguistic Typology (Vol 20, issue 2, 2016). In this LiP session, we focused on the research-practical aspects of the issue at hand from a descriptive point of view, asking questions about how researchers go about in identifying relevant categories in the languages they describe, and how they capture and describe their functions and label the categories. But what criteria and concepts do researchers apply when going about these tasks? A notoriously difficult area is research into systems of tense-mood-aspect (TMA) which illustrate some of the points during our discussion.

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Improving the Metadata of Papua New Guinea Collections

Written by Steven Gagau and Jodie Kell

As part of a project to improve the metadata of PARADISEC’s Papua New Guinea collections made possible with funding from the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), PARADISEC has welcomed Steven Gagau into the Sydney office. Steven was engaged as a Research Assistant to provide language support for the project. Steven’s key role is listening to PNG collections held in the PARADISEC catalogue to find out more about the recordings and record this information into the catalogue.

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Steven can be seen here with Nick Ward from PARADISEC

 

A focus for Steven is the extensive collection recorded by Dr. Thomas (Tom) Dutton in the Kuanua language of the “Tolai” people of the Gazelle Peninsula of East New Britain Province. Dr. Dutton was a linguist with the Australian National University between 1969 and 1997. Prior to taking up linguistics Dutton was an Education Officer in the Administration of Papua and New Guinea. His many books include studies on Papuan languages and the collection digitised by PARDISEC includes his fieldwork tape recordings and other recordings developed to accompany his language learning publications.

Steven listens to people speaking or singing in Kuanua language of the Tolai and recordings of traditional dance and music of the region. He documents details about the content such as the names of people, what they are singing about and locational information. He also verifies if they are actually using the Kuanua language. He determines the discourse type such as language play, oratory, procedural, report, narrative or singing. As the final part of the process, Steven enters the data into the PNG Metadata Enrichment Form. Using his language skills, Steve is able to access important information that can be added to the metadata of the materials, thus contributing to enhancing the knowledge of these materials held in the PARADISEC catalogue.
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PARADISEC Activity Update

PARADISEC is steaming in to 2017, with plenty of activity across our offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

It’s been a huge year of increasing our quantity of archived material, growing 79% in 13 months since April 2016 from 14TB to 25TB, in part due to the contribution of the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. The collection now represents 1,085 languages in nearly 153,000 files. This could be an interesting challenge we will face in the coming years – the continued growth in our requirement for digital storage space. This 11TB represents an increase to 7,150 hours of audio recordings (growth of 125% since April 2016!), with 40 new collections and nearly 2200 new items.

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Why researching languages in the family is complicated and how it can be the most entertaining thing – MLIP blog April 2017

MLIP blog April 2017

Alan Ray recaps the April Melbourne Linguistics in the Pub (MLIP) a monthly discussion group. This month’s MLIP was held in conjunction with Language practices and language policies in multilingual contexts workshop, University of Melbourne 6-7 April 2017

Leading the discussion was Judith Purkarthofer, Multiling: Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan, University of Oslo

She summarised the discussion in the announcement on the RNLD blog as below:
This discussion will start with experiences in researching family languages, policies and practices in a Northern European context. National languages, minority languages and languages of migration are considered a public question, but they are also very much a private question for families and family members.

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You’ve got a skin name- so use it! Promoting language diversity in the field – MLIP blog March 2017

MLIP blog March 2017

Ruth Singer recaps the March Melbourne Linguistics in the Pub (MLIP) a monthly discussion group.

On 1st March 2017, Alex Marley (ANU/Wellsprings) led a discussion on promoting language diversity in the field. The announcement for the discussion session looked like this:

You’ve got a skin name- so use it! Promoting language diversity in the field

As linguists, we are occasionally called upon to provide professional advice and consultation to government or community organisations. However, how our advice is received, implemented or interpreted can be disappointing and frustrating.

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More Pacific Manuscripts now available in PARADISEC

Following on from a previous post in July this year – here – we are happy to announce that several more linguistic records from the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (Pambu) microfilm collection are now available via PARADISEC’s repository.

This is the second batch of records to be made available this year by Pambu and PARADISEC; allowing community members, linguists and other researchers interested in this field free and open access to these fantastic documents.

Screenshot from PAMBU-DOC1042 'Articles, letters and miscellaneous papers' Rev. Lorimer Fison

Screenshot from PAMBU-DOC1042 ‘Articles, letters and miscellaneous papers’
Rev. Lorimer Fison. Courtesy of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau.

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