Languages


A letter arrived at the Sydney University Linguistics department just the other day from Japan, and the way the addressee was worded impressed me immensely, as It’s the first time I’ve experienced real-life honorifics.

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To continue the saga of the stolen wordlists (see my own posts on this here and here, or Peter Austin’s posts here and here for background) I’ve decided that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

It is with that in mind that I give you (over the fold) the Murrinh-Patha crossword puzzle, my own creative work, using Philip M. Parker’s online dictionary of the Murrinh-Patha language.

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or, On the Grammar Wars

Over the weekend, and extending into the week thus far, a debate has been steadily growing in the blogosphere, both here and in the US, about a controversial set of guidelines for teaching English published last year by the English Teacher’s Association of Queensland (ETAQ).

Before I go on, I might say that the breadth of this debate is such that I barely know where to begin, so logically, I might try beginning at the start.

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Over the weekend, David Nash drew my attention to a book that he found on Amazon, that purported to contain bilingual crosswords puzzles in English and Wageman.

I was a bit perlexed by this, since, well, Wagiman doesn’t have much in the way of practical applications such as second-language learning, that is, of course, beyond the community of Wagiman people. It should be noted at this point though, that this book is not being marketed towards the small community of non-Wagiman speaking Wagiman people, but to a North American audience.

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Not long ago, I received a call from a friend in Kybrook Farm. She informed me that an old lady, one of the last remaining Wagiman speakers, had died a little while earlier.

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I’ve been a bit neglectful of this blog lately, and yes, I know I say that at the beginning of just about every post these days, but unfortunately it’s even more true now than ever.

The main reason I’m so busy is that I’ve been helping out in massaging and sanitising data for an electronic dictionary of Kaurna, the language traditionally associated with Tandanya and much of the surrounding region. The language officially became ‘extinct’ almost a hundred years ago, but on the basis of two dictionaries written in the mid 19th century, linguistic revival efforts are having some huge success. Places in and around Tandanya have taken on alternative Kaurna names, you can learn Kaurna through all levels of education and you can even study Kaurna linguistics at a tertiary level. Not bad for a ‘dead’ language.

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Long term readers of this blog would probably know that I occasionally like to mess around with Google Earth and to try out new things to do with languages and so forth. It began with an exercise in mapping some known and established place names in the Sydney Metropolitan Area, mostly concentrated in and around the Harbour, and then it moved on to a small project of mine to map the region of the Northern Territory with which Wagiman is traditionally associated.

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