Three recent events

The first few weeks of semester have been a game of snakes and ladders, and I’ve tumbled down some very long snakes. So it’s good to report on a few ladders.
First was the Kioloa Australian Languages Workshop, of which more below.
Then there was the launch of Gayarragi Winangali, an electronic version of the Gamilaraay Yuwaalaraay Yuwaalayaay Dictionary at the Koori Centre, University of Sydney. It’s a wonderful resource which features a lot of data, a lot of sound, and a lot of ways of accessing the data. (Not to be compared with the expensively produced Multilocus Indigenous language CDs, most of which are depressingly data-light…).
And finally, ANU ePress have republished The Land is a map, a collection of papers on place-names in Australian Indigenous speech communities. (Bizarrely and sadly, they had to scan the book because their predecessor, Pandanus Press, wasn’t into digital archiving).


Back to the ALW. This was ably organised by Kazuko Obata and Jutta Besold from AIATSIS, and sponsored in part by AIATSIS and ANU. Kioloa is a brilliant place to have a workshop – the noise of the talks drowns out the boom of the sea, but you can trip lightly through the kangaroo droppings down to the beach in the early morning, pausing only to gasp at the mist on the paddocks.
It was a good and varied program. I heard thought-provoking papers on historical linguistics and on philological reconstitution of old sources, on syntax (serial verbs, aspect, incorporation, applicatives, idioms..), on descriptions of deictic systems, on kinship semantics, on conversational dispositions..
There was a lot of interesting show-and-tell: Jason Lee demonstrated the OLCAP: Online Language Community Access Pilot [.pdf], showing how people had taken old tape-recordings and dubbed them into a cute language learning video. Mary Laughren demonstrated a Kirrkirr version of the Waanyi dictionary. John Giacon gave us a sneak preview of Gayarragi Winangali. Steven Bird talked about the Open Languages Archive Community. Results were presented from analysing the database built up in AUSTKIN (Tracing change in family and social organization in Indigenous Australia, using evidence from language).
The Australian Indigenous Languages Database (AUSTLANG) was discussed by Peter Austin and Kazuko Obata, and everyone is urged to check it out and amend the information on the languages they know about.
Perhaps the prettiest show and tell was Mark Harvey’s map of Australian languages – a great labour. You can get the base data (although not the nice map itself) from ASEDA, item 0802. As well Mark’s new book was launched: Proto Mirndi: a discontinuous language family in northern Australia, which is an important work in comparative linguistics.
And there was some discussion of language politics – Pat McConvell, Jo Caffery and I have been working on a paper on bilingual education, and we discussed our conclusions with the Kioloa mob – getting lots of useful feedback. There was also a long discussion of what to do when a language centre goes feral, and stops doing any sensible work on language.
Plenty of bloggers there, so you can check out other versions, one short at Matjjin-nehen, one more colourful at Katherine’s Diary.

2 thoughts on “Three recent events”

  1. Thanks! I was too hasty – I have been reminded that Mark had announced in the ALS newsletter that the
    “A topographical database providing information on the territorial affiliations of Non-Pama-Nyungan languages at colonization is available. This database may be used with any standard mapping software to produce topographically accurate maps. The database is held on ASEDA at AIATSIS”.
    It is part of the same item number 802, but has to be specially requested – see the newsletter for details.

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