Archive for the ‘News’ Category.

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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Pacific Manuscripts now in PARADISEC

After some discussion between PARADISEC and the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (PAMBU) we now have access to linguistic records in the PAMBU microfilm collection, either for tagging in the PARADISEC catalog, or as digital versions of the microfilm in the PARADISEC collection.
Kylie Maloney at PAMBU kindly made available a list of items in PAMBU that have linguistic content (about 70 items). I sent this list to linguists interested in this field and got a priority list from them. PAMBU then entered into negotiations with their depositors to allow the microfilms to be digitised and produced as pdf files for distribution via PARADISEC’s repository. Continue reading ‘Pacific Manuscripts now in PARADISEC’ »

PARADISEC activity update

It’s been a busy start to 2016 for PARADISEC. Nick Thieberger published an article about the race to preserve Pacific Language Records in The Conversation. New collections archived this year in PARADISEC include Danielle Barth’s Matukar Panau documentation from Papua New Guinea, Alan Walker’s Sabu materials from Indonesia, Lila San Roque’s Mnanki, Arso and Duna collections from Papua New Guinea and a large collection (RB5) from Roger Blench, containing a Continue reading ‘PARADISEC activity update’ »

Chasing John Z’graggen’s records

This week a suitcase of audio tapes will arrive in Melbourne from Madang in PNG. While a lot of the effort of building collections in PARADISEC goes in finding tapes and encouraging people to deposit their recordings, there are some collections that stand out for the amount of work required. This is the story of one of them.

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PARADISEC activity update

We are working on a collection of tapes made by Mary Ayres, Ph.D. during doctoral research conducted between 1979 and 1981 in numerous dialects from two language groups in the Morehead District, Western Province, Papua New Guinea. At ANU we have started working on Don Kulick’s recordings of Gapun (PNG). In Sydney and Melbourne we are working to digitise tapes from the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, including some of Terry Crowley’s Paama tapes and Wolfgang Sperlich’s Namakira among many others.

In Melbourne we continue to work on Alan Walker’s Timor recordings and have a volunteer, Epi Dowling, scanning field notebooks. We are also working through Darrell Tryon’s tapes and will soon start on the last set of Ian Green’s recordings from the Daly region.

In Sydney we have just digitised Melissa Crowther’s tapes from Sandaun Province, Papua New Guinea of Barupu, Puare and Rawo language materials. PARADISEC is also providing expert assistance to a Linkage Project based at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, digitising important recordings associated with the Central Land Council. We have started with Petronella Vaarzon-Morel’s tapes recorded from the 1970s onwards, and are working with our Canberra partners, DAMsmart to digitize some unusual film and video formats.

PARADISEC activity update

During September we negotiated with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre to assist in digitising their reel-to-reel tape collection. We now have 70 of their tapes in the queue, representing work done in Malakula and in Efate since the 1960s.

Zygmunt Frajzyngier deposited his collection of various African language recordings and they will be accessioned in the near future.

Hidden treasure in the collection

In this item, Tom Dutton is talking with Ken Pike who first coined the notion of ‘etic’ and ’emic’ analysis and who was the first President of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). This recording was made in 1962 about working with Australian languages. You can hear it here (once you are signed in to the catalog).

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PARADISEC activity update

It has been a busy time for Paradisec over the last couple of months.  We now have more than 5,100 hours of recorded material in the catalog and in 2 months alone have added 250GB of data, all of it representing digitised versions of analog tapes.

Recent work on the collection of 200 tapes from the Solomon Islands Museum is nearing completion but, as some tapes have required careful conservation work before being playable, the project has taken longer than expected. The collection was in urgent need of digitisation, not only because of the condition of the tapes, but also because little is known about the contents of the tapes. At least some contain material in Ririo – a language that has only a very small number of living speakers. The availability of digital files will allow the Museum to identify the contents of the recordings. We have also just finished digitising Nancy Carter’s 1960s recordings from the Solomon Islands and Bougainville that came to us two years ago. These three inch tapes were initially unplayable and needed special attention. They are now available online.

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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.
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PARADISEC stats for 2014

It has been quite some time since our last update on the contents of the PARADISEC archive. Since our report on this blog two years ago, we have added 88 collections bringing the total to 265 collections. There are now 9,836 items and 60,516 digitised recordings, images and videos in the archive, which is now 7.35 TB in size. The archive now includes over 4000 hours of audio.

Some of the collections that have recently been archived include Lamont Lindstrom’s Kwamera recordings from Vanuatu, Malcolm Ross’ Papua New Guinea recordings, Roger Blench’s Niger-Congo recordings, Renée Lambert-Brétière’s  Kwoma and Tok Pisin recordings (PNG) and Don Daniels’ materials from Madang Province of PNG. A collection of particular interest is Ted Schwartz’s tapes, dating from the 1950s when he did fieldwork on Manus Island with Margaret Mead.

We have also had our catalogue improved by users providing feedback, allowing us to correct names of participants, and generally enriching information about some of our older material that otherwise has little metadata.

In Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, we are working on getting a few new collections into the archive including Margaret Jolly’s Vanuatu tapes, Lynne McDonald’s Western Solomons recordings and some new manuscript pages from Arthur Capell’s Fiji collection, which are currently being imaged and will be added to PARADISEC’s already extensive collection of Capell images.

Imagine … a world without PARADISEC

Imagine … a world without memories is the evocative and chilling title of a project organised by the National Committee of Australia for the UNESCO Memory of the World.

Memory of the World event

Memory of the World event 14/5/2013 Adelaide

Through the Australian Memory of the World Register, the Committee, mostly volunteers, are building public awareness of the importance of maintaining records and objects associated with events important to many people. It’s harder to burn down a library if the people who see the flames believe the burning contents are valuable to them. [burn down = de-fund].

In 2001, the first items were added to the Australian Register: James Cook’s Endeavour journal, the Mabo case documents, and landmark constitutional documents. Not a bad balance. This year, 11 items were added, bringing the total to 49.

The event of inscribing these items in the register took place on 14 May 2013 in the splendid Mortlock Chamber of the South Australian State Library with its vaulted ceiling and storied galleries of books. Before the ceremony, I wandered past the Treasures Wall, looking at nineteenth century collections of things and their representations: birds’ eggs, illustrations and classifications of beetles, plants and mushrooms, geological maps, diaries, and J B Cleland’s notes from the Taman Shud case.

Master Henry Gilbert's bird egg collection

Master Henry Gilbert’s bird egg collection

These South Australian realia collections made a good frame for thinking about the parallels between them and the kinds of documents inscribed in the Australian Register. Some of the 11 new items were as curious as the pie-dish beetle, others as well organised as the fungus collection, others as decorative as Fiveash’s wildflower paintings, still others — like the records of indentured labourers and convicts — promising stories as sad and sinister as Taman Shud.

Jared Thomas, a Nukunu writer and researcher gave a short speech saying how helpful and important the documentations of the past was — and he mentioned the Norman Tindale collection, one of the 11 new treasures. This has been important for him as a writer, and for him as a Nukunu given the Nukunu native title claims. People could take or challenge the representations given in the early documentation, and could move to the future equipped with a strong understanding of the present and a very strong understanding of the past.

Almost all items come from large state or national institutions with recurrent funding. The items range from sound recordings, the John Meredith folklore collection* of the National Library, to the Holtermann collections of glass negatives taken by Beaufoy Merlin and Charles Bayliss of the Hill End, Mudgee and Gulgong goldfields (State Library of NSW) and F E Williams’ photographs of Papua New Guinea (National Archives and South Australian Museum), to individual items like Colonel William Light’s plan of Adelaide (State Library of South Australia), Thomas Burstow’s eyewitness diary of the bombing raids on Darwin (Northern Territory Library), and three diaries of the goldfields (including Edward Snell’s lovely illustrated diary) (State Library of Victoria), to particular types of records (Convict Records of Western Australia 1838–1910 (State Records Office of Western Australia), and Queensland South Sea Island Indentured Labourer Records 1863–1908 (Queensland State Archives)), to the comprehensive records of the first 50 years of the University of Adelaide.

2013-05-14 22.51.12

So it is pretty wonderful that, only ten years after its beginning, and without recurrent fundng, UNESCO has recognised the importance of PARADISEC’s collection through inscribing it on this list. And it follows on PARADISEC’s inclusion in the ‘UNESCO Register of Good Practices in Language Preservation [.doc]’ in 2005. This recognition is a tribute to collaboration — to Linda Barwick and Nick Thieberger and their team, to their universities, and to how much they have achieved on shoestrings. (Note: you can strengthen PARADISEC’s shoestring by sponsoring them — and it’s tax-deductible).


* This award was accepted by Kevin Bradley, and it was a great pleasure to thank him once again for all the help and advice he gave PARADISEC when it was still an egg.