Archiving

I know, I know, I promised a report on the Australianists workshop in Somslo. Many things are preventing this, besides the usual end-of-term grading and the like. This time list year I hd just left for Milingimbi with an ever-expanding to-do list. This year, it's electronic archiving. I'm going to be in Boston over the summer, which means leaving my fieldnotes and everything in Houston (unless I either post them to myself – bad idea, might get lost in the post – or put them in my luggage – bad idea, might get lost, rained on, etc). So, before I leave, I'm scanning everything that can go through a document feeder (and by the sound of my scanner, a few things that really shouldn't) and taking digital photos of the rest. This is both for archive purposes and portability reasons. (and, I admit, I'm running out of shelf space in my office, so if i ever want to buy another book, like a Makassar dictionary, some filing needs to happen.)

So far I have done about 2,500 pages, and there's probably about 700 to go (unless I also do my copy of the Laves texts, which is another 2,000 or so). It's not all my work, this includes field notes on Bardi by Gedda Aklif (1990-1993) and some other texts by other people.

Now, of course, when you're taking digitial photos of something, you need to look at what you're taking a picture of. In this case, it's very distracting. I haven't looked at some of these notes for years, and in some cases, I see they never got processed after coming back from the field (a somewhat embarrassing admission to make in public, but name me one fieldworker who has processed and digested all the data they've collected!). Anyway, there's some incredibly cool stuff in these notes – vocab I don't know, some more examples of weird ergativity, deixis, and so on. Expect regular updates throughout the summer while I work on this.

I also found a hard copy of a comparative wordlist amongst Gedda's notes. I knew it was there but I thought it was the same as something that I have an electronic copy of. It's not. It has some Jawi in it that by all accounts should be proto-Nyulnyulan. That is, if it's really Jawi, it hasn't undergone a few of the sound changes that all the other languages in the subgroup have. However, the other two sources on Jawi have the expected forms, and they are much older (but less accurate). It's a big mystery! (For the Australianists, sorry I'm being a bit vague about the sources but I don't think I'm allowed to quote from this ms without permission. Email me for more details.)

Last thing that's going on is tape digitisation and audition. Again, cool stuff abounds, and expect to hear more about it soon. So, even if I'm not going to the field this summer, I'mstill going to be up to my eyes in data and out of trouble…

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4 responses to “Archiving

  1. If you are going to be in the Boston area for the summer, perhaps we can meet for lunch sometime. I’m an old friend of David Nash’s and Jane Simpson’s from their MIT days, and I’d love to hear some of your stories firsthand.

  2. Keen to hear some Hungarian stories too!

  3. Love to! I’m leaving next Houston next Tuesday and will be in Boston/Cambridge on and off until the end of July.

    Hungarian stories were to be accompanied by photos, which are in my picassa folder on my external hard drive which can’t be read by this comptuer because it’s a) too old and b) running linux with dodge external device support. Maybe some pictureless reports nonetheless…

  4. You can see my email address, right? Shoot me a message when you’re settled. I work right in Kendall Sq.

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