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 what other processes have been applied, which have been archived, what the rights are for each file, also allowing the user to specify what these criteria are for their own type of collection.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.
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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.
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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

Dry-dock launch of ‘Kochlinger’

On Thursday I had a most pleasurable time launching a new book on Australian languages and linguistics at the terrific annual conference of the Australian Linguistics Society in Newcastle (thanks Newcastle organisers!). Here goes for ALS’s first ever dry-dock launch… for Harold Koch and Rachel Nordlinger’s co-edited book (2014) The languages and linguistics of Australia: a comprehensive guide.

Australia has a long and interesting history of developing new kinds of books about language areas. In the nineteenth century we had compendia of vocabularies across Australia or parts – by Edward Curr (Curr, 1887), George Taplin (Taplin, 1879) and Robert Brough-Smyth (Smyth, 1876). This was followed in the early twentieth century by Wilhelm Schmidt’s pan-Australia classificatory work (Schmidt, 1919), and later Arthur Capell’s new approach to Australian linguistics (Capell, 1956). Then Norman Tindale produced his map and bibliography in 1974 (Tindale, 1974). In 1976 Dixon edited a collection of papers by lots of different linguists addressing the same grammatical topics (Robert M.W. Dixon, 1976). A flurry of different types of books appeared in the 1980s—from R M W Dixon and Barry Blake’s editing of short grammar handbook series (e.g. Dixon and Blake, 1983), the handbook series for geographic areas with vocabularies and bibliographies which Jim Wafer initiated (e.g. Menning and Nash, 1981). Then there were overview books (Blake, 1987; Dixon, 1980; Yallop, 1982). In 1993 Michael Walsh and Colin Yallop produced their edited collection of chapters on different topics in Indigenous languages (Walsh and Yallop, 1993). That book became the mainstay of courses on Aboriginal languages and was affectionately known as ‘Wallop’.
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Introducing CLIP: Canberra Linguistics in the Pub

[note: we expect a better gender balance in 2014]

Canberra Linguistics in the Pub [from Piers Kelly]

7.45pm, Sunday 23 November 2014

The Castle Room, King O’Malley’s 131 City Walk, Canberra.

No need to register but it may be helpful to click ‘join’ on this page so we get a sense of numbers. We already have a great bunch of interstate and international language people coming so it promises to be fun.
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Depopulating remote Australia

In 2006 shifts in government policy caused me to write a a post about the likely effect on remote communities. It ended:

Why does the Government want Aborigines off Aboriginal land? Some probably believe the story that moving to town will make Aborigines ‘fit in’ better with other Australians. But it’s hard to forget that once Aborigines are off their own land, it will be much easier for others to get access to the land. Develop it, mine it, bulldoze it, oh whatever. And the royalties the Aborigines receive will go to pay for patching up the fringe camp societies. Continue reading ‘Depopulating remote Australia’ »

Issues in the documentation of newer language varieties

Jonathan Schlossberg 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 Wednesday 29th of October, 2014 centred around the theme: Issues in the documentation of newer varieties. Felicity Meakins (University of Queensland) led the discussion. The announcement and short background reading are here.

This session marked the 5th anniversary of Linguistics in the Pub. Organiser Ruth Singer would like to extend a thank you very much to all participants, including ‘retired’ co-organiser Lauren Gawne. Lauren’s gap has been partly filled by the Monash PhD students coalition: Harriet Shepard, Jonathon Lum, Alan Ray and Jonathan Schlossberg (University of Newcastle) will be co-organising when they are not in the field. Interstate/international visitors – don’t forget let me know when you’re coming to Melbourne so we can have you along too!
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