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Director weekly highlights 26 June

Nicholas Evans, Outreach

Date: 26 June 2020

Last week I mentioned the appearance of two new dictionaries – of Dhurga and Ngiyampaa – but neglected to tell you how you can order them, as I know many of you will want to do. For the Dhurga one, this can be ordered from Aboriginal Studies Press at AIATSIS – see this link and for Ngiyampaa see this link.

Meanwhile I'd like to also draw your attention to the revised second edition of the Pitjantjatjara-Yankunytjatjara dictionary, which you can order from IAD Press. This classic dictionary first appeared in 1992, compiled by Cliff Goddard, and has now been updated by CoEDL postdoc Rebecca Defina – more accurate and comprehensive than ever before, and a fine demonstration of how good dictionaries improve and extend with successive editions.

Another exciting development this week, whipped up by CoEDL corpus manager Wolfgang Barth, is a new tool that uses a selected drag-and-drop facility to allow you to quickly check on the contents of your Elan files. See more on this below, and check it out here.

A few weeks ago I announced a new initiative for documenting the language of Indigenous Fire Management in Australia. Movement restrictions due to COVID mean that fieldwork through this dry season is going to be close to impossible in most or all remote communities, so we have rescheduled the timing to allow it to take place next dry season, but we are wanting applications in by the end of September, so now is a good time to start planning out good projects and consulting with relevant community groups. For more details on the scheme check out the following links:

I ended last week’s message with a sombre comment on the many negative consequences of the Federal Government’s new proposals for higher education funding. Those debates are continuing with many trenchant media commentaries. The proposals won’t go before parliament until August, giving us time both to articulate our concerns as well as possible, and to bring pressure to bear through multiple channels – various plans to do this are in the pipeline, including by the Australian Linguistics Society and the group of present and past Laureates, and I’m sure you’ve seen some of the critical commentaries in the media. I’ve found these two, by economist John Quiggin and historian Frank Bongiorno, particularly trenchant.

Importantly, research and teaching in both STEM and HASS suffer ­– HASS because students have to pay more to take courses, STEM because the Government is paying less to universities to teach many STEM subjects – not to mention the distortions and inequities of an increasingly baroque and arbitrary set of pricing mechanisms based on some very strange premises about where future economic growth will be and what training will make students employable.

Particularly important in putting pressure on the government will be to enlist our allies outside academia – such as in the IT industry but also in other non-university organisations engaged  – and I urge all of you with contacts there to consider ways we can bring pressure to divert the planned reforms into a better-conceived set of changes.

Lots of online seminars are coming up again, reconfiguring who talks to whom – see below – and I hope that various combinations of our CoEDL communication will get a chance to see each other over the coming week. 

Wishing you all a creative and healthy week in the midst of all these upheavals,

Nick Evans 


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