Sorry for the hiatus, I've been enjoying myself too much. I've been (and still am) at the 3rd Oxford Kobe workshop. The theme for this time is "The linguistics of endangered languages" and there were about 10 papers from various parts of the world, including 3 on Australian languages (Peter Austin on some of the cool features of South-Eastern Australia, me on Bardi complex predicates, and Tasaku Tsunoda on Warrongo antipassives).
It was interesting to see the different ways in which the participants interpreted the theme of the conference. For me, for example, the endangerment idea was somewhat incidental to the paper. Bardi's endangered, therefore it counts for the purposes of this conference, but Bardi had these structures before it was endangered, and a language doesn't need to be endangered in order to be worth documenting (indeed, there are lots of aspects of documentation that can only be done when there is an active and healthy community of intergenerational speakers). It's urgent to document languages like Bardi because if we don't do it now, that type of work won't be able to be done in the future, but that doesn't mean, I think, that it's intrinsically "better" in any meaningful way to document threatened languages. That serves to exoticise the communities who speak such languages and may not be a very productive way of proceeding. This complexity came out quite well in the discussion period, I think.
We heard three more A talks (apart from Australia) – America, Africa, and Ainu, too, including Friedericke Luepke's "Beyond clicks and tone", which included a really fascinating study of lip-plate speech (the articulatory compensations needed by women who wear lip plates – there's a picture here, sorry for the bandwidth stealing).
On the touristy side, I went to Nara with some of the other conference participants and got to remember some of my extremely rusty Japanese. The cherry blossom is out and it's stereotypically pretty in the "ah" sort of way. I went running up the hill behind the Oxford Kobe Institute yesterday and the lava outcrops were really interesting (+ path-side shrines, + incomprehensible signs about the wild boar, and so on!) It's been a thoroughly enjoyable week. Now I'm off to Ann Arbor for another workshop, so the hiatus will resume shortly.