@pamanyungan on twitter

My new grant has a twitter presence. We’ll be tweeting relevant language and other research, grant findings, news, and the like. See https://twitter.com/pamanyungan

Lab manager for NSF project

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve hired Matthew Massie (Yale) as lab manager to help coordinate aspects of my new Pama-Nyungan grant. This will include more regular updates to the ozpapers.wordpress.com papers blog, coordinating consultations about release of materials associated with the comparative database, and providing more plain English/informal summaries of recent research activities.

‘Grammar Boot Camp’ at Yale

I will be holding a summer ‘grammar boot camp’ next year (2015), from June 1 to June 26. The idea is to have up to four advanced undergraduate students work intensively on existing high-quality archival field notes and recordings with the aim of producing a publishable sketch grammar. Students will receive a stipend and travel expenses to come to Yale.

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program; as such, applicants are limited to US citizens or permanent residents. Students who have graduated in Spring 2015 will be eligible to apply. The targeted cohort is undergraduates who will have just finished either their junior or senior year.

Applications will be accepted towards the end of 2014 and applicants will be notified about the result in mid-February. Students will need to show some evidence of prior research experience (e.g. through an RA-ship or by having a senior thesis in progress) and some familiarity with language documentation procedures (e.g. through having taken a field methods class or equivalent, such as attendance at a CoLang summer school). Applicants will need to show attention to detail and ability to focus on a project for a sustained period. The application will require a letter from the student and two letters of support from faculty.

The materials to be worked on will be from an Australian Aboriginal language from Western Australia and will include both print materials and audio files. It is probable that the ‘print’ materials will already be digitized and in Toolbox.

Students will meet twice a day as a group with me to discuss analyses and writing. They will spend the rest of the time working with the materials in the department. They will receive regular detailed feedback on the analysis and writing. Familiarity with Australian languages is not required but I would expect that successful applicants would do some reading of grammars of related languages (which would be provided) prior to the start of the boot camp.

More formal application information will be sent out later, but for now I just wanted to let everyone know about the opportunity so potential students can keep it in mind when planning their course schedules and plans for the coming year.

Please forward to anyone you think would be interested and feel free to contact me with any questions.

Recent press on Tjupan project

Over the last few months my student Andy Zhang has been doing fieldwork on Tjupan. The ABC has recently picked up the story and they ran a national segment last night. The print version is here. Frankly, I’m pretty puzzled (as I often am) why a particular project makes the news and another doesn’t, but it’s great publicity both for the Goldfields Language Project (Walkatjurra Culture Centre) and for language work.

This project started as a “grammar group”, where 6 students and I were working with Sue Hanson’s field notes on Tjupan to write a sketch grammar. A draft of the sketch grammar was completed back in June and Andy has been working on checking and extending it.

We didn’t have any funding for the initial round of work, but for the next few years I’ll be running a similar group as a summer “grammar boot camp” through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates scheme. More on that project soon.

New Digitization Project

From the RNLD site:

RNLD is very pleased to announce that we have been awarded an ILS Strategic Initiatives grant to digitise Gavan Breen’s and Tamsin Donaldson’s extensive collections of field notes for approximately fifty Australian Aboriginal languages. All materials from this project will be deposited with AIATSIS and PARADISEC and provided to regional language centres. This will ensure that these important materials will be more widely accessible to community members and linguists around Australia for language reclamation and revitalisation activities, and further linguistic research.

Tamsin Donaldson documented the Ngiyampaa language of western New South Wales in the 1970s, and over the past several decades she has published extensively on her research. Tamsin’s work continues to provide an invaluable resource for community members involved in the reclamation and teaching of Ngiyampaa. Linguist Lesley Woods, a Ngiyampaa woman, is currently in Canberra digitising and building metadata for 39 field notebooks with support from Tamsin and her family members.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Gavan Breen built an extraordinary database of materials from some 49 languages across western Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Gavan still continues his research and publication work from his office at the IAD in Alice Springs. He is actively supporting community language revitalisation activities in a number of locations, including Woorabinda, central Queensland. Gavan’s extensive collection of written materials about these languages is now being digitised in Alice Springs by RNLD Consultant Shamini Joseph. Shamini is completing the third and final phase of this project, building on two earlier phases that were undertaken by volunteer Clare Manning and RNLD’s Outreach Officer Felicity Houwen.

For more information on the project, including a list of the languages, visit the RNLD website: http://www.rnld.org/BreenDonaldson

Plain English Description of Australian Comparative Database

I have circulated this plain English description of the Pama-Nyungan (now Comparative Australian*) lexical database to various language centres in Australia, but I’m posting it here too in case it’s useful to others writing such descriptions, and in case others would like to know about the database in broad terms. I am in the process of writing a more detailed paper that describes the database.

Continue reading

Ipads for research

I’m taking part in a trial of ipads for the field methods class this semester. I’m not totally convinced that it’s going to work yet, since I’m a bit suspicious of the recording capabilities and of how seamless it will be to get items on and off the devices. We will certainly be making backup recordings using my field equipment for at least the first few weeks.

However, one of the side effects of this is that I’ve been spending a lot more time working on an ipad recently, trying out apps. I’m even not taking my laptop to the LSA (I’m writing this post on an ipad on the plane to Minneapolis).

Couple of observations:

The ipad I’m trialling came with a ‘Zagg’ keyboard case. The keyboard itself is quite good. It’s comfortable to use and very responsive. The cover itself is rather clunky and heavy, and the charging position for the keyboard is in an irritating position (the keyboard has to be partly removed from the cover to charge it). It’s also fairly straightforward to pair the keyboard with multiple ipads.

I have an ipad mini and while that size of tablet is mostly great, it is very helpful to have the larger size when working on latexed documents. My ipad mini is also heavily child-proofed, which makes it almost impossible to use with a stylus. I have yet to find a decent handwriting ap that might be useful for field methods. Let me know if anyone knows of one (the stumbling block is the need to be able to use handwriting recognition with accented characters).

We are using Auria for the recording app, dictapad for transcription, and we will be loading the class data into LingSync (which has an online version for minimal data entry). We are syncing files through Dropbox and Box. TeX Writer is great (LaTeX app allowing fill compilation on the ipad) and Zotero for reference management.

So far the biggest issues have been a) the usual problem of syncing between multiple devices and making sure they are all up to date (forgot to do that before leaving…) and b) only having one window at a time. On the other hand, only having one window does make email much less of a distraction.

I will continue to provide updates as the semester progresses and we use the ipads.