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Director weekly highlights 15 May

Nicholas Evans, Outreach

Date: 15 May 2020

As the pandemic indicators continue to improve, and some campuses start to outline dates for at least a partial return to campuses next month, I hope you are beginning to take heart from the feeling that the worst of this long, deeply troubling and isolating time is passing, at least in Australia and the Pacific. But let’s also remember that many recipients of this mailing list are in countries which are still experiencing worrying case numbers and do all we can to support them in whatever way makes sense – and can I invite any overseas recipients who need our help and solidarity to send in such requests so we can continue to circulate them through this mailout.  

And, even for those in the fortunate position of living in a country or state where the case load is dropping, please do not underestimate the toll this is taking on each of us, and find ways to ease the psychological load on yourselves and others. And – at a time when Australia has unfortunately sometimes shown its more xenophobic and insular side – please also think about ways of making your own personal steps to make every person on these shores – whether you see them out walking, on public transport, or in a supermarket – feel valued and welcomed, wherever they may stem from. 

After weeks of COVID-dominated weekly messages I want, in this week’s, to highlight a significant moment of achievement, and two exciting initiatives looking forward.   

First, the achievement. The steady building of material in PARADISEC has been one of CoEDL’s proudest achievements, and this week we passed a major milestone, going over 300,000 files in the collection, taking its dimensions to:   

84.2 Tb total 

572 collections 

28,515 items 

300,073 essence objects 

94 universities 

X-WAV    63,661 files   20.5 TB  12,343 hours 

MXF 54.6 Tb 

MP4 5,933 files 4.62 TB 1,146:30 hours 

Reaching these vast dimensions – a true digital Library of Babel, with materials now from over a sixth of the world’s languages – has involved the contributions of many people, including of course the many speakers and linguists who have followed through on recording and archiving materials, but I would particularly like to thank Nick Thieberger, Julia Miller, Tina Gregor, Amanda Harris, Steven Gagau, Jodie Kell, Nick Fowler-Gilmore and Nick Ward for their amazing work, week in and week out, in steadily building up this vast resource. 

Another cascading series of landmarks, where we are proud to be partnered with a major AIATSIS initiative, will come with the publication of a series of dictionaries in the next eight months or so (thanks to Doug Marmion for passing on this information). Five of these will be published by Aboriginal Studies Press at AIATSIS, with the following scheduled dates of appearance: 

  • Ngiyambaa, Available 1 June 

  • Dhurga, Available 1 June 

  • Umpithamu, Available 1 July  

  • Dhanggati, August 2020  

  • Warlpiri, Available early 2021 

In addition to these, three further dictionaries will come out with other publishers: 

  • Arrernte Dictionary will be published by IAD and will most likely be available in August or thereabouts. 

  • The Wajarri and Badimaya dictionaries will be published by Bundiyarra Irra Wangga Language Centre, and will be available towards the end of 2020. 

Finally, I’d like to draw the attention of CoEDL researchers looking for post-doctoral fellowships to the following opportunity (see attached): the Forrest Research Foundation has decided to accelerate opportunity for early-career researchers by progressing with its post-doctoral fellowship competition for 2021. These generous 3-year fellowships, which can be held at any of Western Australia’s five universities, are open to Australian and international applicants working in any discipline. We seek to appoint at least three exceptional researchers whose presence in Western Australia will significantly enhance the State’s research capability. Applications close on 1 June.  

Please make sure to take a good swodge of time off this weekend – get outside, away from the Zoom screen and breathe deep. I am optimistic enough to think we will soon reenter a phase of putting together new plans for the future, and it is important to be rested and positive as we enter that moment. 

Nick Evans


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