Author Archive

The challenge that language variation poses to language description – a LIP recap

The July edition of LIP was led by David Gil from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena. The night was well attended with representatives from all the usual suspects: University of Melbourne, Monash, and La Trobe. Attendees this month also came from the University of New England, ANU, as well as from SOAS, London and NTNU, Norway. The evening’s discussion centred on issues related to Malay and Indonesian languages and varieties, but also included discussion of language documentation and description in general. Continue reading ‘The challenge that language variation poses to language description – a LIP recap’ »

Literacy in the field: how do the communities we work with use vernacular literacy?: LIP discussion

Harriet Sheppard recaps the May Linguistics in the Pub, a monthly informal gathering of linguists in Melbourne to discuss topical areas in our field.

The May LIP brought together linguists from La Trobe, Monash and the University of Melbourne to discuss vernacular literacy in the communities we work with. The place of vernacular literacy in language documentation programs is a recurring topic that many of us who work with traditionally oral languages come across and must consider as a matter of course throughout our work. As developing an orthography for a language entails a level of standardisation that may not have existed previously for a language, some linguists, such as Ameka (2011), have suggested that we could bypass literacy, replacing written documentation with audiovisual documentation products. However, the reality is that most linguists need to develop our own literacy in the target language in order to conduct research. Frequently communities expect us to produce language resources such as dictionaries and storybooks for the community. In this month’s LIP gathering we discussed how the communities we work with participate in literacy activities in vernacular languages and how outputs of language documentation projects can potentially be better designed for the community. Continue reading ‘Literacy in the field: how do the communities we work with use vernacular literacy?: LIP discussion’ »

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?’ »