In recent months three large Australian bilingual dictionaries have been published, after decades of preparation. Some of their attributes are compared in the table below.
First, consider what the three works have in common. All were begun more than half a century ago, by trained linguists in collaboration with many named native speakers of the particular language. There are many cross-references between entries, and there is extensive use of example sentences to illustrate senses.
Owners have commonly bestowed a name on their property, whether it be a residence in town, a homestead, a boat. Since at least the late 19th century in Australia, a popular source for these names has been some of the vocabulary of Australian languages and other languages of the region. The demand has been met in the last century by various popular booklets of ‘Aboriginal names’ (referenced in previous posts on Orana and on Akuna). Before those booklets began to be published, newspapers and magazines published suggestions, sometimes drawn from the Collectors of Words notably the books of Brough Smyth (1878) and Curr (1886/7).
The published Barcoo River (Queensland) expedition diary of explorer Edmund Kennedy (1852) was augmented with unpublished manuscript sources and republished by Edgar Beale (1983). In the context of the present paper the key augmentation came from a handwritten copy of Kennedy’s journal for the period 01 April 1847 to 24 January 1848 made by Rev W.B. Clarke, and held by the Royal Geographical Society of London (RGS, see Beale 1983:96-97).
In an entry for 01 October 1847, Kennedy reported an encounter with Aboriginal people who were ‘without exception the most friendly and best behaved Natives I met with on the journey’. According to the RGS manuscript, Kennedy recorded:
We obtained from this party some useful words, which are correctly written, according to their sounds, River Victoria,1 “Barcoo”; Water, “Ammoo”; Grass, “Oo-lo-noo”; Fire, “Poordie” &c. (Beale 1983:142)
It is a pity that the rest of the list has not so far surfaced.
As part of a project to improve the metadata of PARADISEC’s Papua New Guinea collections made possible with funding from the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), PARADISEC has welcomed Steven Gagau into the Sydney office. Steven was engaged as a Research Assistant to provide language support for the project. Steven’s key role is listening to PNG collections held in the PARADISEC catalogue to find out more about the recordings and record this information into the catalogue.
Steven’s role involves listening to recordings of people speaking and singing and then documenting details about the content of the collections specific to the items. He verifies the catalogue details in Title, Description, Dates, Subject and Content languages, Regions and Villages and locates on language maps. He further determines the discourse types such as language play, oratory, report, procedural, formulaic, interactive, narrative or singing.
He then edits the data and updates directly the PARADISEC catalogue for metadata enrichment thus contributing to enhancing the knowledge and information of these materials held.
Steven’s initial work was on the extensive collection recorded by Dr. Thomas (Tom) Dutton in the Kuanua language of the “Tolai” people of the Gazelle Peninsula of East New Britain Province. Dr. Dutton was a linguist with the Australian National University between 1969 and 1997. Prior to taking up linguistics Dutton was an Education Officer in the Administration of Papua and New Guinea. His many books include studies on Papuan languages and the collection digitised by PARDISEC includes his fieldwork tape recordings and other recordings developed to accompany his language learning publications.
Lately, Steven has been working on the materials in the catalogue by collectors from various regions with their language and cultural groups in PNG guided by the database of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) of PNG. Given his local knowledge of Papua New Guinea, he is able to identify the language and cultural groups to improve the metadata materials in the catalogue collections. He is now reviewing tape collections from Divine Word University (DWU) in Madang, PNG where there are a wide variety of items and discourse types being verified and enhanced in the catalogue.
Steven has extended his language and cultural knowledge to Melanesia Region where he is now involved with Vanuatu and Solomon Islands collections and can enhance the metadata in Bislama (Vanuatu) and Pijin (Solomon Islands) languages similar to Tok Pisin where are usually referred to as Melanesian Pidgin languages and are lingua franca languages in these countries.
Alan Ray recaps the April Melbourne Linguistics in the Pub (MLIP) a monthly discussion group. This month’s MLIP was held in conjunction with Language practices and language policies in multilingual contexts workshop, University of Melbourne 6-7 April 2017
Leading the discussion was Judith Purkarthofer, Multiling: Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan, University of Oslo
She summarised the discussion in the announcement on the RNLD blog as below:
This discussion will start with experiences in researching family languages, policies and practices in a Northern European context. National languages, minority languages and languages of migration are considered a public question, but they are also very much a private question for families and family members.
Ruth Singer recaps the March Melbourne Linguistics in the Pub (MLIP) a monthly discussion group.
On 1st March 2017, Alex Marley (ANU/Wellsprings) led a discussion on promoting language diversity in the field. The announcement for the discussion session looked like this:
You’ve got a skin name- so use it! Promoting language diversity in the field
As linguists, we are occasionally called upon to provide professional advice and consultation to government or community organisations. However, how our advice is received, implemented or interpreted can be disappointing and frustrating.
Following on from a previous post in July this year – here– we are happy to announce that several more linguistic records from the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (Pambu) microfilm collection are now available via PARADISEC’s repository.
This is the second batch of records to be made available this year by Pambu and PARADISEC; allowing community members, linguists and other researchers interested in this field free and open access to these fantastic documents.
This is the story of institutional collaboration at its best.
In 2013 Bill Palmer sent through a list of 78 rpm discs held by the National Library of Australia, summarised in their catalog as follows:
“The collection consists of two albums and 20 single sound discs, word lists, slides and photographs. Records include specimens of native languages of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate; speech of Hagen natives; gospel recordings; and titles in Fijian, Babatana, Owa Raha, Bilua, Marovo, Dobu, Ungarinyin, Hula, Tavara, Motu, Johore Malay, Western Sumatra Malay, Wedau and Police Motu. Brief typescript word lists are included with the Motu, Hula, Tavara, Dobu and Babatana sound discs. There is an English-Owa Rahan vocabluary for the Owa Raha disc.”
We sent a request to the NLA with whom PARADISEC has always had a close working relationship. They agreed in principle and then we had periodic contact about this. In July 2015 we approached the National Film and Sound Archive who have the necessary playback equipment. Further to-ing and fro-ing of emails finally resulted in agreement from the NLA in June 2016.
In 2001 the discovery of a colony of Lord Howe Island Stick Insects living on Balls Pyramid, near Lord Howe Island, received international publicity. This species, originally very common on Lord Howe Island, had been thought to be extinct until rockclimbers, in 1964 and 1969, found evidence that it was still surviving on Balls Pyramid. In 2001 the Balls Pyramid colony was observed eating the leaves of a Tea-tree Melaleuca howeana which is endemic to Lord Howe and adjacent islands.
The local name of this Melaleuca species was first published in 1869: “A shrubby Melaleuca, inhabiting rocky exposed situations near the coast on the south-western side… locally called kilmogue, is used as a substitute for tea and said to be a pleasant and exhilarating beverage.” (Hill 1869:7; Moore 1870:9).1When Maiden recorded the local vernacular names of plants and trees on Lord Howe Island in the 1880s, only two had non-English names. These were the Melaleuca, still known as kilmogue and Elaeodendron curtipendulum, a large tree also found on Norfolk Island and New Caledonia, which was known as tumana (Maiden 1898). The Melaleuca was still known as kilmoke in the 1930s (Nicholls 1938:90).
In Australia and New Zealand species of both Melaleuca and Leptospermum can be referred to as Tea-trees. Leptospermum polygalifolium occurs on Lord Howe Island but does not appear to have been made into ‘tea’ or referred to by the Polynesian name.