Archive for the ‘Public Events’ Category.

International Mother Language Day 21 February 2012

Large or small, Indo-European or Inuit, endangered or killer, let’s celebrate our mother tongues on UNESCO‘s International Mother Language Day!

We don’t all die for language rights, like the Bangla-speaking students of the University of Dhaka who were killed on 21 February 1952, protesting the then Government of Pakistan’s decision to promote Urdu as the sole national language. But we CAN support this year’s theme which is yes! “Mother tongue instruction and inclusive education”.

UNESO IMLD 2012 poster

Hopes and dreams

On Thursday I had an interesting time in a sleek-looking conference room at Parliament House with the House of Representatives Inquiry into language learning in Indigenous communities. The terms of inquiry cover learning English and learning Indigenous languages. Lots of people have put lots of time and thought into their submissions and appearances (available online). They are a fascinating snapshot of current concerns, hopes and dreams. (A couple contain not-so-subtle touting – gimme a gazillion and I’ll solve literacy/attendance/savethelanguage, but they’re the exception).

So I was answering questions about my submission [.pdf] on language learning in Indigenous communities. Here goes with points that I wanted to make, and then what I remember of questions asked by the Committee:
Continue reading ‘Hopes and dreams’ »

Yan-nhaŋu in the National Year of Reading

What a good decision in today’s Australia Day honours to make Laurie Baymarrwangga Senior Australian of the Year 2012! Read Claire Bowern’s post for an appreciation of her and her work documenting the Yan-nhaŋu language and getting it written down. She sounds a delightful person.

2012 is also National Year of Reading. Everyone with a reading-scheme in their revolver will be lobbying the government for funds to smelt and fire their silver bullets. Will the glitter of silver blind officials to the evidence as to whether they can hit the target?

How about for a change we read Yan-nhaŋu, Warlpiri, Enindilyakwa, Arabic, Vietnamese…? And for an even greater change, fund the production of reading material and decent language enrichment programs in these languages? Which brings me to a quibble about the description of Ms Baymarrwangga’s achievements:

Speaking no English, with no access to funding, resources or expertise, she initiated the Yan-nhangu dictionary project. Her cultural maintenance projects include the Crocodile Islands Rangers, a junior rangers group and an online Yan-nhangu dictionary for school children.

‘initiate’ is a slippery word, which then slithered into the ABC report as’establishment’.

Another is her establishment of the Yan-nhangu dictionary project, without any funding, resources, expertise or the ability to speak English.

This is a dangerous inaccuracy. Others were involved in the Yan-nhaŋu dictionary work who had access to resources. Ignoring their contribution lets governments off the hook. They want us to believe that love is all you need to maintain a language and create an online dictionary for it. Not schools, not interpreters or translators, not curricula or interesting stuff to read, not web-hosting or software, not linguists or programmers, nothing that needs paying for. Certainly nothing that would cost as much as some of the silver bullet reading-schemes.

Langfest 2011 – inspiration and exh(ilar)alation

Canberra is breath-taking at the moment, and I am just catching breath between marking and Langfest … it starts today with the French Studies conference.

Tomorrow=Monday, dictionary-making, with AUSTRALEX, and a keynote by Sarah Ogilvie, the soon-to-be-director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre.

Wednesday brings New Zealand and Australia together with the combined mega-conference of the applied linguistics associations of New Zealand and Australia (ALAA-ALANZ) at the University of Canberra

Thursday sees a session on Indigenous language revival and revitalisation at the start of the Australian Linguistics Society conference and shared with ALAA-ALANZ at the University of Canberra. Then we whiz back to ANU for ALS’s first poster session which contains several posters on endangered languages, followed by Canberra’s first Linguistics in the Pub session.

Friday is a big day on Language and the Law at ANU – language rights of different types. ALS has heaps of papers on endangered languages. And our workshop on Kids kriols and classrooms. And Jenny Green and Barb Kelly’s workshop on Current issues in non-verbal communication research. That was the trigger for getting sign language interpreting for some sessions on Friday and Saturday – very professional interpreters, and brings home the cost of language rights. It’s easy enough to ask for Governments to pay for language rights. But it makes us much more aware of what we are asking when societies like ALS and ALAA and conference attenders realise the cost to themselves of language rights.

And, and, and, Saturday has a class on learning and teaching Gamilaraay. AND a workshop on Modality in the Indigenous languages of Australia and PNG, as well as other papers on endangered languages (perception in Avatime?, fronting in Mawng, voicing in Gurindji Kriol). Sunday has lots of papers in the general session and workshops from telling who intentionally does what in Sherpa, to body-parts in Kriol and Dalabon, to Topic Continuity of Subject and Non-Subject in Squliq Atayal Legends: Evidence from Statistics. There’s also a special audio workshop run by David Nathan.

And, completely breathless by now, we down the last arvo tea, and head to Kioloa for master classesJoan Bresnan on Probabilistic syntax (up to us to think how can we do it with small data sets as we normally have for endangered languages) and Fiona Jordan on Cultural phylogeny. Others stay on in Canberra for a workshop on tone in New Guinea languages.

Ooofffff.

NRPIPA Symposium in Darwin 13-14 August 2011

Another stunning array of papers and associated performances will feature at the 10th Annual Symposium of NRPIPA (The National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance in Australia). This year there will be a focus on community databases for access to recordings.
Venue: North Australian Research Unit, The Australian National University, Darwin, 13–14 August 2011
Presented in association with:
The University of Sydney, ‘Intercultural Inquiry in a Transnational Context: Exploring the Legacy of the 1948 American–Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land’ (an Australian Research Council Discovery Project, hosted at PARADISEC, University of Sydney)
and The Australian National University’s School of Music, College of Arts & Social Sciences

Programme

Saturday 13 AUGUST 2011
9.30–10.30 Joe Gumbula and Martin Thomas ‘Ceremonial Responses to the Repatriation of Human Remains from Arnhem Land’
10.30–11.00 Amanda Harris ‘The Nutritionist and Her Chaperone: The American– Australian Expedition’s Fish Creek Camp in Arnhem Land’
11.30–12.30 Archie Brown, David Manmurulu, Charlie Mangulda, Bruce Birch and Linda Barwick ‘Welcoming the Upcoming Generations in Western Arnhem through Song’
12.30–1.00 Anthony Linden Jones ‘“You Couldn’t Take it Down in Our Scale”: Traditional Song and the Musical Score to CP Mountford’s Documentary Films’
2.00-2.30 Peter Williams ‘The Wollombi Corroboree’
2.30-3.00 Helen Rrikawuku Yunupiŋu ‘Milkarri Wäŋa-Ŋarakaŋur: Keening on Country’
3.00-3.30 Cathy Hilder, Anja Tait, Kate King and Tony Gray ‘Recording Stories: Revitalising and Maintaining Indigenous Languages in the Northern Territory Library’
4.00–4.30 Samuel Curkpatrick ‘Grooving with the Ancestors: Wägilak Song and the Australian Art Orchestra’
4.30–5.30 Aaron Corn ‘Nations of Song’

Sunday 14 August
9.00–9.30 Myfany Turpin ‘Text Setting in Warlpiri Yawulyu’
9.30–10.00 Nicholas Kirlew ‘Community Stories: The New Version of the Successful Ara Iritija Software’
10.00–10.30 Linda Barwick, Joe Blythe and John Mansfield ‘The Wadeye Song Database’
11.00–12.00 Genevieve Campbell Teresita Puruntatameri and the Wangatunga Strong Women ‘Ngariwanajirri — The Strong Kids Song’
12.00–1.00 Joe Blythe ‘From Malgarrin to Metallica: A Rockumentary History of Wadeye Music’
2.00–3.00 Matthew Martin, Pansy Nulgit, Sherika Nulgit and Sally Treloyn ‘Moving People and Places: The Sustaining Junba Project’
3.00–3.30 Allan Marett ‘It’s Not Just about Preserving Music and Dance: It’s Something Much Bigger’
4.00–5.00 Roundtable discussion on ‘Community Databases: Access, Training, Management’

Happy IDWIP!! 29 years on

I nearly missed this [thanks Bruce!]

Mick Gooda, the Social Justice Commissioner celebrates International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples – the birthday cake theme this year being ‘Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting our own future’

His press release notes that International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations.

Gresham College webcasts

On 16th June, Nick Ostler, Mark Turin and I participated in a packed symposium at Gresham College in London (founded in 1597 and the capital’s oldest Higher Education Institution — read about its fascinating history here).

The Symposium was entitled Rare and Endangered Languages, and the topics of our talks were as follows:

Nick Ostler “Why should we protect endangered languages?”

Mark Turin “Collect, Protect, Connect: Documenting the Voices of Vanishing Worlds”

Peter Austin “Language documentation and revitalisation: where are we now?”

Gresham College regulars Tim Connell and Michael Mainelli (who bears the enviable title “Emeritus Mercers’ School Memorial Professor of Commerce”) also took part — Tim introduced the Symposium and Michael chaired a round table discussion at the end. Video and audio recordings of all the talks, plus transcripts and Powerpoint slide decks can be accessed and/or downloaded from the Symposium website.

Iwantja Band launch ‘Palya’

Around the remoter parts of Australia there’s a ferment of contemporary music and Australian languages. I had a taste of this a week ago in Tennant Creek, where I learnt of a freshly released album from Iwantja Band, now on their launch journey (Iwantja Band launch Palya).

cover art for 'Palya'

Cover art for 'Palya'

I caught some of the enthusiasm from Patrick McCloskey, a freelance music producer working with the Winanjjikari Music Centre1 at Tennant Creek.

Most of the songs on the album (eg Kungka Nyuntu, Wamanguru) are in Pitjantjatjara / Yankunytjatjara, languages spoken at Iwantja (perhaps better known as Indulkana), some 900km south of Tennant Creek. It suited the band to use a studio not in a city, or in intermediate Alice Springs, but at Winanjjikari in Tennant Creek. And there is more to the mix, as the band’s manager says in an interview:

Continue reading ‘Iwantja Band launch ‘Palya’’ »


Notes

  1. The name is Warumungu, wina-njji-kari ‘sing-Nom-Genitive’; see also WMC’s blog

A Warlpiri double launch

The annual meeting of Warlpiri-patu-kurlangu Jaru Inc. and its professional development workshop known as Warlpiri Triangle this year is being hosted by Yuendumu CEC, 16-19 May 2011.

This evening in the Yuendumu school library two resources were launched to a large gathering including senior Warlpiri women.

Yuendumu launch invitation

Continue reading ‘A Warlpiri double launch’ »

London’s Language Landscape

A group of SOAS students taking the MA in Language Documentation and Description this year organised a project to map the diversity of languages spoken by staff, students and visitors to SOAS, and to record language samples. They have identified scores of languages in use around SOAS and recorded 40 samples, including proverbs, poetry and songs, some in endangered languages. Two of the students, Samantha Goodchild and Nicholas Stallman, have just made a podcast about their project, the results of which will be on display during Open Day on Thursday 12th May as part of Endangered Languages Week. If you are in London do come by and have a look.