The 2014 ARC Cup

An astonishingly good ARC Cup run for Indigenous Australian languages. Onya! Good news for horses from PARADISEC, ELAC blog contributors and the new Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language.

Amidst this joy, deep sympathy to the many people working in linguistics who put in terrific projects that didn’t get funded.

This is the field for Indigenous language work as I see it – if I’ve missed anyone, lemme know.

Erich R Round
Project Summary
This project aims to harness the insights of dissipating information, to discover language histories by bringing together two high-definition technologies: powerful, computational statistical engines pioneered in genetics; and fine-grained, statistically optimised observations of language structure. It seeks new insight into how languages reveal history, and how cultural groups speaking the Uralic languages of Eurasia and Australian Aboriginal languages diverged, spread and interacted, from a distant past to the recent present.

Elizabeth Marrkilyi Ellis; Inge B Kral; Jennifer A Green; Jane Helen Simpson
Project Summary
Verbal arts are central to social interaction. In the Western Desert Ngaanyatjarra and Ngaatjatjarra people use special speech styles to mark particular occasions and life transitions. Led by Ngaatjatjarra linguist, researcher and educator Elizabeth Marrkilyi Ellis, the research team aims to build on a corpus of these endangered oral traditions. Following in- depth linguistics analysis the project aims to implement strategies to revitalise these endangered styles through dynamic contemporary applications thus reintegrating them into the language socialisation framework of youth. The project aims to assist Aboriginal people to safeguard their heritage and contribute to a wider public appreciation of Aboriginal languages and cultures.

Payi Linda M Ford
Project Summary
This research aims to develop and implement suitable Indigenous frameworks for the preservation, interpretation and dissemination of the recordings of ceremonial performances in the Wagait-Daly region of the Northern Territory of Australia. The focus is a body of recordings, made by early anthropologists and missionaries, of final mortuary ceremony performances. The ceremonial performance is a key process for integrating Indigenous knowledge from many different domains, a socially powerful site of exchange, transmission and transformation of relationship to country, kin and identity. The aim is to extend the power of ceremony in order to benefit Indigenous people’s identity and Australia’s shared history in the future.

Sally A Treloyn, Nicholas A Thieberger, Mary Anne Jebb; Kimberly Christen; Andrew M Dowding
Project Summary
This project aims to investigate Indigenous song traditions of the western Pilbara through current practice and legacy recordings. It aims to show how public song traditions were used through the twentieth century as tools to manage environmental change. By recording and documenting songs and histories, and curating and developing an online collection of song-based digital heritage items with a virtual landscape interface, the project is expected to produce knowledge about the role of digital collections and cultural mapping in supporting the sustainment of endangered song traditions. It also aims to develop tools for use by communities and researchers to secure legacy, crowd-sourced and newly created records of intangible cultural heritages for the future.

Robert Amery and Jane Helen Simpson
Project Summary
The Ngarrindjeri language of the Lower Murray of South Australia was richly documented in the nineteenth and mid- twentieth centuries. The largest body of texts (163 texts in Berndt and Berndt, 1993) is a treasure-trove of language and cultural knowledge from the 1940s, but has received little linguistic attention, because of difficulties in interpreting writing conventions and because of the inadequate translations provided. Through systematic linguistic analysis and reconstructions, this project aims to shed light on how Ngarrindjeri changed over the 100 years since first documentation, how clan languages differed, and how Ngarrindjeri texts and sentences were structured. It is expected to provide important insight into the variation expected in language contact situations.

Mark Harvey, Myfany Turpin, Michael Proctor
Project Summary
This project addresses a central question about language. How well do we understand the structure of syllables and words? The project aims to examine the Australian language (Kaytetye), the unusual word and syllable structure of which suggests that models of syllable and word structure may require significant revision. The project aims to consider the implications of Kaytetye sound structure for general theories of phonology, and more importantly for ideas about universals in language. The project involves extensive documentation of Kaytetye, which is an endangered language. The project is expected to provide a detailed description of Kaytetye sound structures and articles addressing the implications of these findings for phonological theory.

Felicity H Meakins; Robert J Pensalfini
Project Summary
The linguistic cradle of many Aboriginal children in remote Australia is a multilingual setting involving considerable mixing between languages. Children bring this linguistic background to the task of learning English. This project is the first investigation of a trilingual Indigenous community, Elliott (Northern Territory), where children grow up hearing Jingulu, Mudburra and Kriol. It aims to examine how people at Elliott manage multiple languages and how these languages have changed through mixing processes such as creolisation and code-switching. Exploring this dynamic language ecology is crucial to tailoring educational programs to suit the needs of Aboriginal children. It is expected to place Australia at the forefront of studies of complex language change.

Ilana Mushin and Roderick J Gardner
Project Summary
An enduring problem in Indigenous schooling is the discrepancy in outcomes compared to mainstream children, but little is known about one crucial factor: the role of Indigenous ways of speaking and their ways of engaging with knowledge and learning. This ground-breaking project aims to compare preparatory school students in two urban settings: a mainstream school and a school with high Indigenous enrolments. The project also seeks to examine learning in children’s homes to establish how the flow of knowledge is managed in Indigenous and mainstream families. By investigating these four settings, it is expected to provide important evidence for understanding how language and cultural ways of knowing contribute to the discrepancy in schooling outcomes.

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