Generating word forms

Have you ever wanted to create a list of possible words in a language you are working on? Have you started creating a dictionary but now need to find words that are not yet recorded? This could be the app for you. Word Generator is a free web service that lets you upload a list of words that you know, together with a list of consonants and vowels, like this:

Consonants: b, rd, d, k, g, j, rl, l, lh, ly, m, n, nh, ng, ny, rn, yh, r, rr, n, ng, y, th, w
Vowels: a, aa, i, ii, u, uu

[ … ]

Word Generator will generate a list of possible words based on this information. It has a number of settings you can alter to adjust the degree of probability, the number and the length of words you want to produce. You can then ask speakers to look through the list to help them think of words that are not already in the dictionary, and it could provoke useful discussion about other forms and meanings.

Please try Word Generator and post any feedback here or by email to me.

Word Generator is being written by Andreas Scherbakov as part of a project funded by ARC Future Fellowship FT140100214

Elicitation Methods

Jonathan Schlossberg recaps the April Linguistics in the Pub, a monthly informal gathering of linguists in Melbourne to discuss topical areas in our field.

Topic: Elicitation Methods

In 2011, LIP ran a discussion on techniques and activities used in the field by linguists to elicit particular grammatical phenomena, compare cognition across languages or simply record naturalistic talk-in-interaction. What is new today? We would like to follow on the same idea and give the opportunity to present activities which were successful or unsuccessful in the field. Of particular interest would be activities using grammaticality judgments or aimed at analysing semantic functions, such as aspect.

A small but dedicated cohort representing linguists from Melbourne’s three linguistics departments showed up at April’s LIP to discuss elicitation methodologies, moderated by Giordana Santosuosso.

Continue reading ‘Elicitation Methods’ »

PARADISEC activity update

PARADISEC continues to grow! In the last year 63 new collections have been added and the archive has grown to 9.04TB with 12,489 items (made up of 73,496 files). We are currently reworking the catalog to make it easier to use.

We have added more items from Stephen Wurm’s (collection SAW4) and Don Laycock’s (DL2) papers.

Added collections include Gavan Breen’s written materials, transcripts and notes of vocabulary and grammar on 49 Australian languages and dialects, mainly from far north Queensland and the central Northern Territory (collections GB01-50). Almost all the languages described are now no longer spoken.
Continue reading ‘PARADISEC activity update’ »

Where have all the AusE sociolinguists gone?

Harriet Sheppard and Jonathan Schlossberg recap the March Linguistics in the Pub, a monthly informal gathering of linguists in Melbourne to discuss topical areas in our field.


Topic: Is the study of Australian languages at the expense of the study of Australian English variation?

Australian linguists are world renowned for their work on the description and documentation of indigenous languages. It is remarkable (to this outsider), given such a febrile research environment, that so little descriptive work seems to be being done on dialects of Australian English compared to the study of English variation in other nations. Can it really be true that Masterchef Australia has more to contribute to the analysis and documentation of Australian English than Australian linguistics does? I’d be interested in hearing from local (socio) linguists whether they think a focus on indigenous languages will necessarily be at the expense of the regional varieties of English in Australia.


A large contingent turned out for the March LIP, with representatives from Melbourne, Monash and La Trobe Universities, including many sociolinguists. The discussion was led by special guest Prof Miriam Meyerhoff (Victoria University of Wellington).
Continue reading ‘Where have all the AusE sociolinguists gone?’ »

Seeking your help with tool development

We are in the process of identifying gaps in tools for fieldwork and data analysis that can be filled as part of the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. I’d like to ask for your input into the requirements for a metadata entry tool. In part, this analysis asks for your opinions on the value of existing tools (listed below) and their relative strengths and weaknesses, and asks if it may be worth putting effort into developing any of them further, rather than starting from scratch.

The high-level requirement of this tool is to make it easy to describe files created in fieldwork, to be available both off- and on-line and to deliver the description as a text file for upload to an archive. This includes capturing as much metadata from the files themselves; providing controlled vocabularies of terms to select from (preferably via drag-and-drop rather than keyboard entry); allowing the metadata to be exported in a range of formats to suit whichever archive will host the collection; allowing the metadata to be imported to the tool for use by collaborative team members; allowing controlled vocabularies to be amended to suit the local situation. This tool could also allow users to visualise the state of a collection: which media files have been transcribed, which have been interlinearised, have text files been scanned, OCRed …. what other processes have been applied, which have been archived, what the rights are for each file, also allowing the user to specify what these criteria are for their own type of collection.

These are the currently available tools, please let us know of any others (especially those created for different disciplinary fieldwork):
CMDI Maker

You can either add comments below, or else write to me separately (thien [at] with your ideas that can contribute to how we develop this tool.

Grammar writing: where are we now?

Ruth Singer recaps last week’s Linguistics in the Pub, a monthly informal gathering of linguists in Melbourne to discuss topical areas in our field.

Linguistics in the Pub on Tuesday the 24th of February, 2015 centred around the theme: grammar writing. Harriet Sheppard (Monash University) led the discussion. The announcement and short background reading are here.

The descriptive grammar although often reported to be dead is a form of scholarship that is still very much alive. And although e-grammars are said to be the way of the future, most grammars still take the form of a hard copy, whether it is a PhD thesis or published book. The discussion in this session of linguistics in the pub was kicked off with a discussion of the article by Ulrike Mosel cited below, part of a special publication of LDC on grammar writing.
Continue reading ‘Grammar writing: where are we now?’ »

IML Day – and mother tongue/script monuments

It’s International Mother Language Day, and Canberra’s celebrations can be seen here from the ABC.

So.. the mother language whose defence led to the choice of 21 February for the day:
and the second Shaheed Minar monument in Dhaka:

And the Afrikaans Language monument:

And a mother script – image from Armenians celebrating IML Day:

Seeking more examples of public commemoration of speech communities and their ways of talking and writing….

Bilingual education coordinator – NT DEADLINE Australia Day

The Northern Territory Government is advertising a three year position to coordinate bilingual education in the Northern Territory. Advertised for one week only in the Northern Territory Government Gazette – but apparently that’s standard. Deadline Australia Day 26 January..

A good person in this position could do wonderful things, but they will have to contend with some history.

Job Title: Principal Coordinator Bilingual Education
Designation: Senior Teacher 4
Work Unit: School Education
Position Number: 35174
Responsible To: Executive Director, Schools North

Primary Objective
The Principal Coordinator Bilingual Education is the department’s officer responsible for the overall co-ordination and strategic leadership of bilingual education in the Northern Territory and is tasked with leading the development of a strategic framework for bilingual education in the Territory.
Continue reading ‘Bilingual education coordinator – NT DEADLINE Australia Day’ »

LAAL looking for a linguist

The Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages is looking to work with someone to help establish a network of academics involved in teaching and researching Australian languages, to facilitate research which involves collaborations with language owners through the archive in undergraduate teaching and postgraduate research. Expressions of interest information is available on the website:

Possible tasks may include the following:

  • Bring together a network of academic linguists (including possibly internationally) interested in using the Living Archive for teaching or research
  • Audit degrees and courses which could possibly engage with (or contribute) texts and collaborate with their owners Continue reading ‘LAAL looking for a linguist’ »

NSW Aboriginal Languages in schools

Just came across this (thanks John Hobson!)

From NSW Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES)
Attention: Teachers of NSW Aboriginal Languages

BOSTES has commenced the development of a Stage 6 Aboriginal Languages Content Endorsed Course (CEC):

The course will contribute to the pattern of study requirements for the Higher School Certificate (HSC) and will appear on school leavers’ Record of School Achievement. It is intended to be flexible in its delivery and will be available as a 1 or 2 Unit course and a Preliminary and/or HSC course. Content Endorsed Courses are not externally examined and do not contribute to the calculation of a student’s Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). Preliminary grades and HSC results will be on the basis of school assessment programs.

BOSTES will follow its established syllabus development process that includes consultation with teachers, community members and other key stakeholders. Details of dates for consultation will be provided through the BOSTES website and Bulletin news items.

Interested writers are invited to submit an Expression of Interest to the BOSTES Register of Curriculum writers by 5pm, Friday 13 February:

Please forward this invitation to members of your networks and to individuals that you feel would be interested in submitting an EOI for consideration to become a writer on this curriculum project.
For more information you can contact by email at or by phone on (02) 9367 8198.
Regards and thanks,
Dr. Christine Evans
Chief Education Officer, Aboriginal Education
Tel: +61 2 9367 8198
Fax: +61 2 9367 8476