Documentation and analysis of endangered and other under-described languages

Several members of the research group are working in the area of documentation, description and analysis of endangered languages and more generally under-described languages, in particular Aboriginal languages of Australia, Austronesian languages and Germanic languages.

Alice Gaby’s field interests lie primarily in Cape York Peninsula, where she has worked with the Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Community since 2002. During this time, she has collaborated on various language documentation and revitalization projects with the speakers and scions of Wik Iyenh, Kugu Muminh, Kugu Mu’inh, Kugu Uwanh, Kugu Yi’anh, Wik Mungkan and Kuuk Thaayorre. She has also conducted field research on topics in morphosyntax, semantics, the cultural context of language use and its cognitive significance. Though this research has mostly focused on Kuuk Thaayorre, Alice is currently building a corpus of audio and video recordings of multilingual interactions.

Anna Margetts has been working on the documentation of Oceanic languages since 1995 and has collected text data in Saliba-Logea (Papua New Guinea) and Lau (Solomon Islands) and is the chief investigator in the Saliba-Logea Documentation Project (with Carmen Dawuda, John Hajek, Andrew Margetts, and Ulrike Mosel) working with a community of speakers in Papua New Guinea. The project has established a text-audio linked multi-media corpus of over 35 hours. She has supervised research theses on indigenous languages of Oceania, Indonesia (Austronesian and Papuan) and Peru. In her distant past she worked on the analysis of discourse particles in Cayuga (Northern Iroquoian).

Simon Musgrave worked on the project “Cross-linguistic study of endangered Maluku languages: Eastern Indonesia and the Dutch diaspora” (with Margaret Florey and Michael Ewing). He worked on documentation of the language spoken in the villages of Tulehu, Tial, Tengah-tengah, Liang and Waai. Current research projects also include an investigation of knowledge of endangered languages amongst the Sudanese community in Melbourne (with John Hajek). He has supervised research theses on Austronesian and Papuan languages, and also researches and publishes in the areas of research ethics for language documentation and computer tools for linguists.

Kate Burridge has been working on the variety of German (Pennsylvania German) spoken by Mennonite communities in Ontario, Canada (and Pennsylvania) since 1986. In addition to grammatical aspects of the language, her work also addresses issues to do with language shift and language maintenance, and she has been supervising research theses in these areas.

Howard Manns has been working on the varieties of Javanese and Indonesian spoken in East Java, Indonesia. He previously developed teaching materials for the U.S. Navy on varieties of Persian spoken in the Persian Gulf region.

Carmen Dawuda completed her PhD thesis on discourse functions of demonstratives and place adverbs with exophoric reference in Logea, an Oceanic Language of Papua New Guinea within the Saliba-Logea Documentation Project. As a post-doctoral fellow she is continuing the documentation and description of Logea and her work on demonstratives. She has also conducted field research on the topic of text cohesion in Ewe, aNiger-Congo language spoken in Ghana and Togo on which she wrote her MA thesis. She is interested in deixis, corpus linguistics and the analysis of oral discourse.

Andrew Margetts has been working in the Saliba-Logea Documentation Project specialising in linguistic data processing and the structuring of databases for language documentation. He developed a Linguistic Software Converter (Transcriber files to Toolbox format) and has written on using Toolbox and on recording equipment for linguists. He has a special interest in Oceanic sailing canoes whose building and use are being documented in the Saliba-Logea project.

Heather Bowe has worked on the analysis, documentation, and reclamation of Australian Aboriginal languages focusing on Pitjantjatjara (Western Desert) and Victorian Aboriginal languages. She has supervised research theses on the grammatical structure of Australian, Papuan, Niger Kordofanian languages (Bantu and Busa), and Tibeto-Burman languages as well as phonetics and phonology, second language acquisition, intercultural communication, multilingualism and discourse.

John Bradley is based at the Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies and has been actively involved in issues associated with Yanyuwa language and knowledge with a particular emphasis country and kinship. The majority of this research has been undertaken in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria with particular emphasis on the marine and island environments of the Sir Edward Pellew Group of Islands, the country of the Yanyuwa people  One of his major areas of study has been in song lines and the knowledge they contain. He is presently working with animators from the Berwick IT campus to develop animations for the Yanyuwa community as a way of getting language material back into the community but also as a way of assisting the cross generational transfer of knowledge. John is presently working on an encyclopaedic dictionary of Yanywuwa. He has inherited the texts and notes on the Yanyuwa language from linguist Jean Kirton who worked at Borroloola, with the Yanyuwa people, between 1963-1984. These materials are available for Honours and  postgraduate linguistic research on Yanyuwa. John will also make his own material available for interested students.