Converting docx to FLEx format for dictionaries

Following the previous blog post I had requests for more detail on how to convert a word-processor dictionary into the format needed to put the text into the software Fieldworks Language Explorer (FLEx). I’ll set out the steps below, but it does require some knowledge of regular expressions that I’ll explain as I go (you … Read more

Reviving dictionaries

More on the theme of refreshing existing dictionaries (discussed a few times on this blog). The Kwara’ae language of Malaita, Solomon Islands, has had various dictionaries produced over time, some handwritten (this is an image of one of these in PARADISEC), and some created using computers. In running workshops with the Kulu Languages Institute over … Read more

Tape gumshoe

Finding tapes that need to be digitised often involves some detective work. Recently, while waiting for a dropoff of tapes (yes, in car park 3), I mused on the noir nature of the work and came up with this vignette. Perhaps the trickiest collection I’ve dealt with was one created by Fr John Z’graggen in … Read more

From film to file: historical manuscripts released by PARADISEC

We are pleased to announce the release of a number of historical manuscripts in and about languages of the Pacific. We worked with the National Library of Australia to digitise microfilms and have now made them available as pdf files for download from our catalog. This work was supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language

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Honiara language workshop, August 2019

The Solomon Islands Kulu Language Institute (KLI) organised a workshop in August this year that attracted 100 participants representing 44 languages of the Solomon Islands.

The venue was the leaf house at Saint Barnabas Anglican Cathedral Grounds, Honiara. The workshop was sponsored by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, the Kulu Language Institute, the University of Melbourne, The Research Unit for Indigenous Language, and Islands Bible Ministries.

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50 words of Australian languages project

The Research Unit for Indigenous Language is running a project in 2019/2020 to collect and present words in as many Australian Indigenous languages as possible. Please consider contributing to this project.

This project aims to provide resources for schools to teach at least fifty words in their local language.

We are asking for contributions of at least fifty words in as many Australian Indigenous languages as possible. The typed words need to be listed in a spreadsheet, with audio file recordings attached. Full instructions on capturing the details are on this website.

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Local wifi versions of paradisec?

 

Getting records back to the places they came from is a major motivation for what we do at PARADISEC. Repatriation of unique analog artefacts is an important model, and digital records should, in principle, be easier to move to any place. However, not every place has capacity for access to or storage of digital files. In the Pacific there are few reliable digital repositories and the cultural agencies I know have little capacity to store or disseminate digital files. Internet connections are usually expensive and so discourage download of large files.

Earlier I talked about using Itunes to get records back to Erakor, the village where I work in Vanuatu. The computers that held the Itunes installation eventually stopped working and were replaced, but the language files were not copied over to the new computers.

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Texts and more texts: corpora in the CoEDL

Corpus development is one of the goals of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (see this web page for more details). We have run a number of workshops on corpus-related themes (e.g. the 2017 workshop that included a day on converting early sources).

In addition to creating useable materials for the source communities (which we have a strong commitment to supporting) we are archiving records that include primary media, transcripts and associated annotations. We aim to produce from this material a subset of accessible texts for a number of languages.
Here it is worth noting that we have come up with this terminology (thanks to Jane Simpson for the formulation) to distinguish the objects we have collected:
Assemblage – all material collected, working files, early sources, multiple versions and drafts
Collection – the archived material, a subset of the above, but curated with sufficient metadata to allow the user to know what all items are
Corpus – a crafted set of texts in the language that can be used for further analysis

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A WEBSITE IS NOT AN ARCHIVE!!!!!!

I had a message from the ‘pop up archive‘ to say they are closing down and I should download my data. They were a website that allowed users to upload audio files that were then meant to be prepared for searching via automated recognition of features in the file.

Leaving aside the functionality of the site (I admit I did not get it to work with my files), I want to reiterate my frustration with websites that call themselves archives (ok, so in this case the title ‘pop up’ should have been a giveaway), only to disappear at the end of a funding cycle or the retirement of the researcher.

In part this frustration is also motivated by a recent project in which I compared languages that have little representation in the OLAC listing (see the earlier discussion of this here) of holdings in the world’s language archives but have had a grammar written recently. If a linguist has worked on a language in the past thirty or so years then it would be reasonable to expect that some primary records were produced, and that they should be in an archive. They may be in a repository that is not part of OLAC, in which case we can create a record to point to that collection. If they are not in any archive, the task is to ask the linguist if they need help to get the records into an archive. At PARADISEC we have been doing this, partly through our ‘Lost and Found’ survey, which has resulted in a number of collections of analog tapes being digitised and made available.

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