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Director weekly highlights 6 November

Jane Simpson, Outreach

Date: 6 November 2020

Welcome to Morgan Alexander, our new communication and media officer, who will begin work at COEDL on 4th January! Morgan has been working at ANU in the College of Asia and the Pacific, and has already written some lively pieces on fieldwork in pandemic times.  And welcome and congratulations to Reuben Brown who has received a DECRA to work at RUIL in the University of Melbourne! 

This week has been very very challenging, especially for our American friends and colleagues. So... time to divert our thoughts. 

Rays of sunlight...  Lots of congratulations in the news section, and special mention to Chantelle Khamchuang on her BPsych (Hons) thesis 'Suitability of Vocabulary Assessments: comparing child scores and parent perspectives on Communicative Inventories for Aboriginal families in Western Sydney’. Chantelle is a Dharug woman, and achieving this in the pandemic shows her enormous talent and determination, and the brilliant support she has received from her supervisors and support team. Find out more in the News section. Well done all! 

Other rays: It's wonderful to see people extending the use of lesser-known languages into more domains. At Wadeye, the community and OLSH Thamarrurr work together in Murrinhpatha language education - and fantastic that they could have Murrinhpatha language count towards school completion - for the first time! Congratulations to all the CoEDL members involved! Read more here.  

Another language first - a professorial address by a linguist in Tetun! Congratulations to Catharina Williams-van Klinken who has just become full professor of Tetun at the Dili Institute of Technology, the national university in Timor Leste.  

And an important event in language revival: Wonnarua Elder Sharon-Edgar Jones and Albert Burgman and Jim Wafer have put together the Wanarruwa Beginner’s Guide (Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative). Details of the virtual launch in the Events section! And Tuesday 24th November .. save the date for our policy forum co-hosted with First Languages Australia and AIATSIS, bringing together Indigenous people, linguists and public servants to discuss the findings of the National Indigenous Languages Report. Registration details will come soon. 

This week the CoEDL Education subcommittee met, mainly to discuss the differing circumstances that students and postdoctoral fellows now find themselves in, due to the many effects of the pandemic.  Here are some points: 

  • Writing fellowships: Post-submission writing fellowships will be advertised soon with an expected closing date of 31 March. Each node will have its own award, so contact your node for details. This will give successful applicants up to three months to work on writing up papers from their theses while they wait for examiners' reports/oral examinations. 
  • Keep connected: Check out our CoEDL Events page. We've updated this with more seminars, reading groups and workshops that you might like to attend. See more about the online university seminar series here.  
  • Make new connections: CoEDL has a mentor program for postdocs and students. If you'd like to connect with a mentor in any of the CoEDL nodes, e-mail Catherine Travis, and discuss with her who you would like to have as a mentor. 
  • ECRs and students, if you have ideas for improving connections in these times, do talk to your ECR/HDR subcommittee – see more details here.  

Fieldwork futures: CoEDL member Carmel O'Shannessy has helped set up a website for suggestions on fieldwork in pandemic times. It collates resources that may assist researchers in adapting methodologies during a pandemic, including recordings of four Fieldwork Futures Seminars. Content will continue to be added to the site. 

LaMeta update! In last week’s newsletter we announced the release of the alpha version of the new LaMeta software for simplifying the addition of metadata to language archives. At the time of making the announcement we didn’t have full information about those who had been involved at the ELDP end, and would now like to thank them in person:  Sophie Salffner, Vera Ferreira, Gema Zamora, Leo Lukschy, Stephanie Petite, Mandana Seyfeddinipur and all the ELDP grantees who have been using the tool and discovering bugs and reporting them. 

End-of-year/New year: CoEDL ANU will shut down between midday 23 December and 15 January - i.e. no approvals and transfers will be processed during this time. This will give CoEDL's wonderful staff a much-deserved break. However, Morgan Alexander will be working away during that time on the Annual Report.   

Concluding with more distractors and hope.  

It's the season for doctoral students presenting their thesis proposals and final seminars - check out 'Events' for some of the rich variety on offer. And if you have been listening to talk about the  [fjʉːtʃa] or our [kɐltʃa] check out the new Sydney Speaks paper on word-final (er) in Australian English by James Grama, Catherine Travis and Simon Gonzalez. 

We reported earlier on Susan Butler's 'Rebel without a clause: losing the linguistic plot', which now has had MASSIVE media attention (onya Sue!). Your next linguistics read might be Alex Bellos' The Language Lover's Puzzle Book probably available in Australia in January. Googlebooking it suggests that it'll be a fascinating read - featuring discussion and problems derived from Linguistics Olympiads (including the original Russian Olympiads), and including Murrinhpatha, Warlpiri, Tok Pisin (I spotted his thanks to CoEDL members Mary Laughren, John Mansfield, Carmel O'Shannessy and Andy Pawley, and maybe others). 

Next week is NAIDOC week with the theme Always Was, Always Will Be. A fitting counter-cry to the pandemic catchcry 'It is what it is'. There's a lot on around the country including Disney+ streaming "Spread the word" again. It's a joint production with Media First Languages Australia, consisting of 2-minute episodes for children introducing words from different Australian languages. 

Happy NAIDOC week! 

Deputy Director 

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