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Director weekly highlights 10 Sept

Jane Simpson, Outreach

Date: 10 September 2021

What’s the hardest thing about being a lexicographer? Knowing too much. What’s a dictionary entry? A dialogue between the lexicographer and the user. Just some of the pithy practical advice from a great and inspiring lexicographer, Sue (Beryl T.) Atkins who died on 3rd September, at the age of 90. Watch Sue in a very funny conversation with Michael Rundell (February 2020), about how she fell into lexicography, as someone with a small child, a clergyman husband, no money, and an excellent knowledge of French. Not in the conversation is that she visited Australia in 1992 and co-presented a course on lexicography and Lexicology at the first Australian Linguistics Institute. Her ideas were a revelation: from theory (using Fillmore’s frame semantics in dictionary-making) to methods (time-on-task!! how many items in a key-word-in-context concordance can one actually read in order to define a word and create a dictionary entry, AND get the dictionary completed before Kingdom Come?). I wish we had had The Oxford Guide to Practical Lexicography’ (Atkins & Rundell 2008), back in the 1980s when we embarked on dictionary-making… So many mistakes and inefficiency could have been avoided.  

Many congratulations to Winanga-Li, which has just won the national HESTA award for ‘Outstanding Organisation of the Year – Early Learning and Care’, for their work to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and families experiencing disadvantage. Part of the nomination was the Yaama Gamilaraay! project that CoEDL affiliate Hilary Smith has been helping with, drawing on John Giacon’s work. Wonderful news!   

Next week’s Voyages lecture at UQ stars Michael Running Wolf on Indigenous AI. He is a Northern Cheyenne software engineer who uses technology to sustain indigenous cultures and languages. And, moving to language learning, use your French to travel back in time to Old Persian or in (virtual) space to learn an Amazigh language through ILARA. Or learn Kriol virtually through Ngukurr Language Centre, Or COVID-willing, an actual face-to-face Pitjantjatjara course in Adelaide over summer! 

Some follow-ups from last week - the monumental (29Mb) Sutton and Hale book Linguistic Organisation and Native Title The Wik Case, Australia is now published and available for download And don’t forget to put 7th October in your diaries - when the news about the Eureka prizes is announced - barracking for Lindell Bromham, Felicity Meakins, Xia Hua, Cassandra Algy and Karungkarni Art and Culture Aboriginal Corporation! 

And if you’d like to spend some time at ANU next year, consider applying for a Humanities Research Centre fellowship - closing date 30 September. 

On practical matters. Nick and I will be playing tag-team over the next 5 months. I shall be on leave most of the time until late October. Nick is going on long-service leave from November 1 to February 8, when my feet will flop around in his very large Canberra shoes. 

On immediate practical matters - yesterday was RU OK day, and ANU’s Vice-Chancellor has declared next Friday an RU OK holiday for ANU. So, CoEDL ANU will be closed on 17 September. In this spirit, we won’t have a CoEDL newsletter next week, but we encourage everyone to draw breath and chat with family, friends and colleagues.  

To finish the introduction on a high note, I’m handing over to Denise Angelo who has just started at ANU on the ARC SRI ‘Understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language ecologies’ research project with Carmel O’Shannessy, Sally Dixon, Susan Poetsch and me. 


Jane Simpson
Acting Director 

From Denise Angelo: 

I’ve been reflecting on how the names of Dharug women Corina Norman and Jasmine Seymour just keep cropping up. Not surprising really, as they are intensively engaged in all manner of language and community work, and so multi-talented - so I’ll just showcase a little of their work here: Corina is a cultural artist, an activist for Dharug and the community and a language and primary teacher, amongst many other things (check out some of Corina’s work on public art and advocacyculture and environment and weaving, art and signing). Jasmine is an award-winning author and artist, singer and a language teacher-librarian (see Jasmin’s books and YouTube videos, and learn about the history of Dyarubbin in The Conversation and the Dictionary of Sydney).  

Corina and Jasmine also have multiple connections to CoEDL through their work and studies - I think this illustrates why CoEDL has put such efforts into fostering relationships. Corina and Jasmine are both graduates of the Master of Indigenous Languages Education (MILE) at the University of Sydney where they studied linguistics and researched Dharug language and teaching with CoEDL affiliates, language teachers and linguists Susan Poetsch, Mark Richards and me. They are both currently researching, developing and delivering Dharug lessons as part of their Indigenous Languages and Arts funded project, Buragadara Bayadara Gulbangadara Dharug Dalang To Learn, To Speak, To Honour the Dharug language, with some assistance from CoEDL alumnus David Wilkins and me. They are also commencing further studies at University of Western Sydney next year and are looking forward to working with CoEDL CI Caroline Jones there. They’ll be a key part of our SRI project.  

Another kind of work that Corina and Jasmine do a lot of is what I think could be termed “inreach” (the other direction from outreach). They regularly and generously dedicate time to “reaching in” to universities and government departments, to helping students, policy makers and researchers understand the language, culture and history experiences of Dharug people in Sydney. Some examples of this work include Corina helping with the “language ecologies explained” or Corina and Jasmine giving a lecture to the ANU course,Language and Society in Indigenous Australia, which was valued very highly by students. They will be working with a summer scholar this year too. Really looking forward to this! 

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University