Newsletter May 2010

Welcome to the latest Newsletter of the Australian Linguistic Society. As usual, the @ symbol in people's email addresses has been replaced with -at-, and clicking on any link will open that site in a new window.

Since I won't be standing for re-election at the AGM in July, this is my last ALS Newsletter as editor. I'd just like to take the chance to thank all those who've contributed items to the Newsletter over the time I've been editor, and who have made this job very enjoyable over the years. It turns out, much to my surprise, that this is my 40th Newsletter, and I've been in this position for 10 years! I suspect that's quite long enough, and it's time for someone new to take over as from July. Fortunately, there has been an expression of interest from someone ...

So it's goodbye from me as editor of the Newsletter. Hope you've enjoyed it as much as me, and I look forward to seeing where the new editor decides to go with it!

Tim Curnow

ALS2010: 2010 Annual Conference

Don't forget the Annual Conference is being held in beautiful Brisbane this year, on 7-9 July, at the University of Queensland. For all details, see the conference website at

Tim Curnow

Want to be on the ALS Executive?

Don't forget that at the AGM in July you've got a great opportunity to become more actively involved in the running of ALS. This year, the following positions are up for election (all are two-year positions, except the postgrad representative which is a one-year-only position):

  • Vice-president (current office-holder not continuing)
  • Secretary (current office-holder not continuing)
  • Treasurer (current office-holder would prefer not to continue)
  • Newsletter/website editor (1 expression of interest)
  • Postgraduate student representative

You are free to nominate yourself for any of these positions - the parenthetical comments are for your information only. Please contact the President ( or other members of the Executive for more information about nominating for a position, or to know more about what the position involves.

Tim Curnow

Proceedings of the 2009 ALS conference published

On 30 April 2010, the proceedings of the 2009 ALS conference were published on the ALS website, The collection has been edited by Yvonne Treis and Rik De Busser, both from the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology, La Trobe University, and includes 21 of the papers presented at the conference.

Yvonne Treis

National Curriculum for Languages

Discussions are now under way to develop a National Curriculum for Languages. In February there was a meeting to consider the place of Australian languages in the National Curriculum for Languages. This meeting included Rob Amery, Dana Ober, Jaky Troy and Michael Walsh. At the Australian Languages Workshop at Kioloa in March issues were discussed as a 'Hot Topic'.

On May 11 a Languages Advisory Committee met in Sydney to further the process of developing a National Curriculum for Languages. The meeting included: Angela Scarino, who is the Lead Writer; Jaky Troy, who is a co-writer to ensure the appropriate inclusion of Australian Languages; Joe Lo Bianco; and Michael Walsh. There was another meeting of an Expert Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages on May 13 which included Angela Scarino, Jaky Troy, Leonora Adidi, Rob Amery, Aretha Briggs, Pat McConvell and Michael Walsh.

At the meeting of the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia in Brisbane Michael Walsh is convening a 2-hour colloquium: 'How much linguistics in the National Curriculum?'. This colloquium, to be held on July 7, will be led off by Angela Scarino to provide general context and speak of the place of community languages. This will be followed by Jean Mulder who will report on the inclusion of linguistics in the National Curriculum for English. Finally, Michael Walsh will set out some of the issues concerning Australian languages. This will be followed by about an hour of comments, questions and discussion.

Members of ALS can be apprised of ongoing discussions through the website of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority,

Michael Walsh

Review of RCLT

La Trobe University undertakes regular five yearly reviews of its Research Centres as part of its policy and procedures on Centres (see and

The University as part of its Research Plan (see has scheduled the first review of the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology, a Centre that has been operating since 2000. The review is chaired by a member of the Research and Graduate Studies Committee, which in this case will be Professor Annabelle Duncan. Other members of the Review Panel are: Professor Susan Thomas (Dean nominee), Professor Peter Mathews (Dean nominee), Professor Peter Austin (School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London, RGSC nominee, expert) and Professor William Foley (University of Sydney, RGSC nominee, expert).

You are invited to offer written submissions for the Review Panel's consideration.

The Terms of Reference of the Review, set in the policy, are:

  1. Review the academic activities of the Centre and report on whether these are in accord with the stated aims and objectives for the Centre.
  2. Report on the quality of publications and any other research outputs.
  3. Review the projected programme of activities for the next five years and comment on its quality, feasibility and the extent to which it is aligned with University and Faculty plans.
  4. Recommend to the Research and Graduate Studies Committee on whether the Centre/Institute be permitted to operate for a further period of up to five years, including any recommended changes in the mode of operation and academic objectives.

The review process will include a series of interviews with relevant stakeholders, a review of written submissions and other relevant documents, leading to the production of a report.

Further information about the Centre, including related documents such as RCLT's Achievements 1996-2006 and RCLT Constitution may be found at

Please forward all submissions to Philippa Thomas by Wednesday 19th May (ph 03-94796634, fax 03-94791499, email

Philippa Thomas

News from University of Sydney

Four recent PhD theses

  • Helen Caple, 'Playing with words and pictures: Intersemiosis in a new genre of news reportage'
  • John Knox, 'Multimodal discourse in online newspaper home pages: A social-semiotic perspective'
  • Chong Han, 'Informing while amusing: Metaphor in Chinese online entertainment news' (available at; congratulations to Chong Han on taking up a position at the University of Western Sydney)
  • Chengfang Song, 'Exploring attitudinal meaning: An extended semiotic model'

Staff movements: Dr Sally Humphrey is to take up a position at the Australian Catholic University. We wish her all the very best in her new position.

Jane Simpson

News from Macquarie Uni

For news of what's been happening in linguistics at Macquarie Uni, visit, where you can see all the latest news or check back in earlier issues of Lingline.

Verna Rieschild

News from the Language and Culture Research Group at the Cairns Institute, James Cook University

New member of staff

Dr Mark Post joined us in March. He is currently working on a grammar of Upper Belt Minyong (Adi), in the comparative context of other languages from the Tani branch of Tibeto-Burman, based on immersion fieldwork in Arunachal Pradesh, North-east India.

New PhD students

Yankee Modi (from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi) started her PhD course in March 2010 working on 'The cultural and environmental shaping of Milang language'. She has successfully presented her confirmation seminar.

Gerda (Dineke) Schokkin (from the University of Amsterdam) will start her PhD course in May 2010 working on a previously undocumented language of the Manus province.

Sihong Zhang (from Anhui University of Traditional Chinese Medicine) will start his PhD course in July 2010 working on a previously undocumented language of Papua New Guinea.

Cairns Institute Distinguished Visiting Fellows

Associate Professor Catherine Travis (May-August), of the University of New Mexico, is an expert in discourse analysis, with emphasis on corpus development and variation. She will work on interaction between Romance languages spoken by minority immigrant groups in English-speaking countries, and English as the major language, focussing specifically on syntactic features such as the omission or retention of first person subject.

Professor Lourens de Vries (July-September), of the Free University Amsterdam, is a leading expert on the languages and cultures of New Guinea. He is writing an account of the dozen languages belonging to the Awyu-Dumut family of Papua, their ethnic backgrounds, contact patterns and grammatical structures, paying particular attention to correlations between language, environment and cultural patterns.

Dr Henry Y. Chang (July-October), of Academia Sinica, Taiwan, is an expert on indigenous languages and cultures of Taiwan, with a particular focus on Tsou. He plans a monograph on grammatical properties of verbs and their arguments across Formosan languages, exploring the ways in which different classes of verbs can be understood in the light of their cognitive underpinnings, also looking at categorization of noun arguments, and the issue of case marking.

Upcoming Workshop: History in the making

A workshop to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of James Cook University's foundation. Friday 21st May 2010, Room B1.031, Library, Cairns Campus. All welcome.

The workshop includes talks by:

  • Professor Alexandra Y. (Sasha) Aikhenvald, Cairns Institute, JCU, 'The white man cometh: Indigenous image of the invader'
  • Professor R, M. W. (Bob) Dixon, Cairns Institute, JCU, 'Origin legends: Reality and re-interpretation'
  • Professor Ton Otto, Cairns Institute, JCU, 'History for the Future: Indigenous history and social change in Manus, PNG'
  • Dr Ernie Grant, Elder of the Jirrbal tribe, Echo Creek Cultural Centre, 'The history of survival'
  • Professor John Molony, Australian National University, 'James Cook: In search of the discoverer'

Tenth International Workshop: Possession and Ownership

Organised by Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and R, M. W. Dixon, supported by ICA Programme, The Academy of the Humanities. to be held at The Cairns Institute, James Cook University, Cairns, 27 September - 2 October 2010.

Auditors are welcome, at no fee (but note that we are unable to arrange accommodation for auditors). A hard copy of the Position Paper can be supplied on request (write to

Speakers include

  • Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (CI, JCU), 'Possession and ownership: a cross- linguistic perspective'
  • Anne Storch (University of Cologne), 'Possession in Jukun (Benue-Congo family)'
  • Felix Ameka (University of Leiden), 'Possession in Likpe (Kwa family)'
  • Christa Koenig (University of Cologne), 'Possession in !Xu (Khoisan)'
  • Isabelle Bril (CNRS, Paris), 'Possession and ownership in Nelemwa (Oceanic branch of Austronesian)'
  • Gloria Gravelle (Free University, Amsterdam), 'Possession in Moskona (Papuan region)'
  • Yongxian Luo (University of Melbourne), 'Possession in Chinese, with notes on Zhuang (Tai family)'
  • Tianqiao (Mike) Lu (CI, JCU), 'Possession in Maonan (Tibeto-Burman)'
  • Lev Michael (University of California, Berkeley), 'Possession in Nanti (Arawak family)'
  • Anne Schwarz (CI, JCU), 'Possession in Buli (Gur family)'
  • Rosita Henry (JCU), 'Being and belonging: exchange relations and land ownership in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea'
  • Michael Wood (JCU), 'Possessing the wind: Kamula property interests in the new carbon economy'
  • Mark Post (CI, JCU), 'Possession in Galo (Tibeto-Burman)'
  • Zygmunt Frajzyngier (University of Colorado at Boulder), 'Possession in Wandala (Chadic subgroup of Afro-asiatic)'
  • Alan Dench (University of Western Australia), 'Possession and ownership in Martuthunira (Australian)'


Dr Anne Schwarz, a PostDoctoral fellow at the LCRG within the Cairns Institute, is on fieldwork in Ecuador working on Siona-Secoya, a West-Tucanoan language until August 2010.

Chia-jung Pan will be undertaking work with the Lha'alhua community during his stay in Taiwan in May-June 2010.

Books published and to appear

  • A. Y. Aikhenvald. 2010. Language contact in Amazonia. Paperback edition of 2002, with revisions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • A. Y. Aikhenvald. 2010. The Manambu language of East Sepik, Papua New Guinea. Paperback edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • R. M. W. Dixon. 2010. A grammar of Yidiñ. Paperback reissue of 1977 hardback. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • R. M. W. Dixon. 2011. A grammar of Jarawara, from southern Amazonia. Paperback edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • R. M. W. Dixon and A. Y. Aikhenvald. 2011 (eds). The semantics of clause linking. Paperback edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Mark Post et al. 2010. Galo-English dictionary, with English-Galo glosses. Galo Welfare Society.
  • Ines Fiedler and Anne Schwarz (eds). 2010. The expression of information structure. A documentation of its diversity in Africa. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Round-table meetings of LCRG

Meetings of LCRG members, held each week throughout the year, are open to anyone interested in linguistic topics. We jointly pick a topic of general appeal, with a number of people making presentations with respect to a language of which they have first-hand knowledge.

The current round-table topic is: Lexical number words and counting systems.

Honorary Doctorate for Ernie Grant

At the JCU Degree Ceremony on Saturday 17 April an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree was bestowed on Ernie Grant, Jirrbal Elder and founder of the Echo Creek Cultural Centre.

Since 1991 Ernie Grant has been Cultural Research Officer within the State Department of Education, based in Cairns. He has worked tirelessly to educate the people of North Queensland concerning Aboriginal cultural traditions and values. He has run Workshops right across the State (and indeed in every other State) on a Holistic Planning and Teaching Framework, with relates together Land, Language and Culture, conceptualised in terms of Time, Place and Relationships. He has worked on curriculum development, designed a Teaching and Learning Framework for teachers working with indigenous pupils, and given extensive support to School Support Centres.

Ernie Grant has also worked with the National Library in Canberra, with the Museum of South Australia and with the Tasmanian Education Department on matters of access and establishing cross-cultural perspectives. All in all, he has made an immense contribution to the North Queensland - and indeed, the entire Australian - community.

Inaugural lecture

Professor Alexandra Aikhenvald presented her inaugural public lecture 'To be a linguist: a polyglot and a language scholar' on Thursday 6 May at Rydges Esplanade Resort Cairns. It was attended by over a hundred academics and members of the public.

Abstract: What is a 'linguist'? For many people a linguist is a polyglot, who knows many languages. There is another sense of 'linguist' - someone who studies how languages are structured, where they come from, and how they work. Alexandra Aikhenvald is a linguist in both senses. She learnt Estonian because her family used to spend their vacations there, Hebrew and Yiddish because they are the languages of her heritage, Latin and Greek to study the classics, French, German and Spanish to read modern literature. And she is fluent in the endangered languages of the small tribal societies where she has pursued her scholarly activities - Tariana, in the Amazonian jungle of Brazil, and Manambu, in the Sepik area of Papua New Guinea. These are languages with intricate grammars, which encompass a world view different from ours. In her lecture, Professor Aikhenvald discussed issues such as: What can small tribal languages teach us? Can knowledge of different languages enrich our lives? What do we lose when a language is lost? Do we see the world through the language we speak? Is there room for just one language in our heads? Or can the human brain cope with more? Languages and the challenge of progress.

Alexandra (Sasha) Aikhenvald

News from Linguistics, University of New England

In June 2010 Linguistics UNE will farewell Brett Baker who is taking up a position in Linguistics at the University of Melbourne. Brett has been at UNE for the past 8 years and throughout that period he has been an outstanding colleague. He has taught across a wide range of units, but in particular he has expanded the discipline's teaching strengths in generative syntax and phonology. Productive on all fronts, he's produced three books in the last two years, and two kids in the last five. He's handled stints as the convenor of the discipline with real leadership and a skilled understanding of how institutions work. In addition to his academic skills, we'll miss his wit, boyish grin, and especially his cooking. Our best wishes to him! From Cliff, Liz, Nick, Anna, Cindy, Christina, David, Jeff, Diana, Libby and Vicki

Aboriginal English in ACT preschools: A UNE team of sociolinguists and early childhood educators (Dr Elizabeth Ellis, Dr Margaret Brooks, Dr Helen Edwards with Dr Diana Eades as consultant and Mr Ron Reavell as Project Manager) has completed a study commissioned by the ACT Department of Education and Training, entitled The impact of Aboriginal English (or Torres Strait Creole) on learning outcomes for Indigenous children in ACT preschools and preschool programs. In consultation with the Early Years Learning division of ACT DET, and in close partnership with Indigenous informants, the team investigated whether children who come to preschool with Aboriginal English as their first language are appropriately catered for within the predominantly Standard Australian English (SAE) classroom in the ACT. The team also looked at pedagogical practices in ACT preschools and completed an evaluation of the ACT early childhood curriculum. Recommendations provided in the final report will inform planning for the improvement of ACT early childhood programs, the development of curriculum which draws on the latest views of best practice for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, and staff development.

Cliff Goddard is presently a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany. His work is related to on-going work at the Institute into lexical typology across the world's languages. He presented his first seminar, titled 'NSM perspectives on lexical typology, with special reference to English verbs of physical activity', on April 20.

Anna Gladkova gave two seminars on the NSM approach in semantics and pragmatics at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in April 2010. This visit was the beginning of collaboration on the project entitled 'The Corpus of Language and Nature' sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Recently published books

Anna Gladkova

New arrival at Melbourne Uni

It is with great pleasure and excitement that we welcome Brett Baker to our program from July 2010. Brett will bring to our program much needed expertise in phonology as well as help to reinforce and expand our strengths in Australian languages, language description and theoretical linguistics. We're also enormously pleased to hear from our UNE colleagues that we have wit and great cooking to look forward to too!

Rachel Nordlinger

Visitors to Linguistics, UWA

A team of international researchers will meet at The University of Western Australia in the coming months to work on a project funded by the European Union (Programme 'Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme' - Call identifier: FP7-PEOPLE-IRSES-2008 Proposal No. 230818 - TAMEAL). The title of project is 'The interrelation of Tense, Aspect and Modality with Evidentiality in Australian Aboriginal languages'.

Patrick Caudal (CNRS, Université Paris-Diderot) will spend a period of 12 months at UWA; Eva Schultze-Berndt, Martina Faller (both from the University of Manchester), Laurent Roussarie (Université Paris 8) and Jean-Christophe Verstraete (University of Leuven) will be at UWA for a few weeks during the July/August period.

Marie-Eve Ritz

News from AIATSIS

AIATSIS Linguistics Summer Scholarships, offered through the ANU Summer Scholarships scheme

AIATSIS encourages (Australianist) academic linguists to forward the following information about its 2010/11 Linguistics Summer Scholarships to undergraduate students. Australianist linguists are welcome to identify AIATSIS collections in need of documentary work, in exchange for provision of additional supervision to the Summer Scholar working on these collections.

A Summer Research Scholarship at The Australian National University is an exceptional research opportunity for high achieving undergraduate (typically third year) and honours students, providing an insight into what studying for an honours or a graduate research degree is all about. Scholarships are available for students from all Australian and New Zealand universities. Travel, accommodation and a modest allowance are provided for an 8-week Canberra residency. In addition, the AIATSIS Linguistics Summer Scholars will be encouraged and supported to present the results of their research at the annual Australian Languages Workshop in March.

AIATSIS is offering two Linguistics Summer Scholarships through the ANU College of the Arts and Social Sciences. Applications will open in July/August, with application information soon to be available from Information about the research activities expected of AIATSIS Summer Scholars is detailed below.

Under the supervision of the Language Research Fellow, ANU Linguistics Summer Scholars will work on research projects to add value to the collection of a specific language collection in the AIATSIS Archive, as well as participate in the general activities of the AIATSIS Language Program.

'Adding value' to a language collection will involve transcribing and annotating language recordings, adding to the metadata, identifying analytical issues in the language and/or the data set and reporting on these as well as communicating with the relevant language community about the work being undertaken.

Applicants may choose to identify a specific collection to work on, or, they may prefer to be assigned a collection by the Language Research Fellow. Applicants should indicate in their application whether they have already identified a collection to work on. Successful completion of the following linguistics subject areas at second/third-year level is desired: phonetics/phonology, Australian Aboriginal languages. Indigenous applicants are especially encouraged to apply.

AIATSIS Research Seminar Series

This semester's AIATSIS Research Seminar Series is on the theme Indigenous Wellbeing and features a presentation on Monday, 31 May 2010 by Jakelin Troy and Michael Walsh entitled 'Language is like food: language revitalization and maintenance in relation to Indigenous wellbeing'. For those not able to attend the presentation, it will be live-streamed via the AIATSIS website, The seminar will be presented 12:30-2pm, Mabo Room, AIATSIS.

Abstract: The role of language in relation to Indigenous wellbeing has been acknowledged from time to time, for instance, in the report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. More recently it was given attention in the 2009 Social Justice Report from HREOC. Nevertheless there has been a tendency to see language preservation as some kind of desirable add-on rather than essential to wellbeing. In 1999 we began working on the revitalization of New South Wales' Australian Aboriginal languages, an activity which we have sloganised as 'raising languages from the dead'! About 20 years ago the received wisdom was that most of these languages were already extinct and the rest soon would be. However it soon became clear that there was a tremendous amount of language revitalization activity already in place and otherwise there was a passionate interest in Aboriginal communities in regaining their languages. We began to hear stories from Aboriginal people about what a life-changing experience regaining language had been for them. One fellow remarked that 2 years before he had been angry, often drunk and in trouble with police and his home life was a mess. Now that he had regained his language his situation had turned around and his family life had greatly improved. Through this and other experiences we became convinced that a small investment in language revitalization could yield very significant dividends. When an individual goes from being quite dysfunctional to a well-balanced, positive person the savings to the wider community are immense, vast amounts of money and resources going into housing, social services and health intervention - sometimes to little effect.

Vicki Couzens awarded the Dr Marika Scholarship

On Friday May 7th, Prof. Mick Dodson presented the inaugural Dr R Marika Conference Support Scholarship to Vicki Couzens of the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for languages. AIATSIS and Reconciliation Australia are joint sponsors of the annual scholarship, which honours Dr. Marika's record as a passionate advocate for Yolngu and other Indigenous languages, the importance of maintaining them and using them in schools, and for genuine cultural exchange. Dr Marika was one of Australia's most prominent and admired traditional Aboriginal leaders and she was a very proud member of both the AIATSIS Council and also a Board member of Reconciliation Australia.

This annual scholarship is solely targetted at supporting an Aboriginal or Torres Strait slander researcher to attend a major international conference held overseas, in order to gain international exposure for their research and to create opportunities to establish international networks with other Indigenous researchers. Vicki Couzens is a Keerray Woorroong Gunditjmara woman and will use the scholarship to attend the 17th Annual Stabilising Indigenous Languages Symposium from June 25-26, at the University of Oregon in the US.

Applications for the 2011 Scholarship will open later this year.

ABS Year Book 2009/2010

Kazuko Obata and Jason Lee contributed an article entitled 'Languages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - A uniquely Australian heritage' to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Year Book 2009/2010. It will be launched on 4 June 2010 by the Governor-General Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC.

OLCAP (Online Language Community Access Program)

The AIATSIS Online Language Community Access Program is now open to offers of deposit of MPI's ELAN time-aligned transcriptions of Australian and Torres Strait Islander languages. Parties with existing collections of such transcriptions or who are planning to make such transcriptions are encouraged to apply. Details can be found on the AIATSIS website at

Sarah Cutfield

Caroline Tennant-Kelly collection discovered in a Northern Rivers farmhouse in NSW

The story of Tennant-Kelly's papers, by Kim de Rijke and Tony Jefferies, University of Queensland

On December 14th 2009 we drove from Brisbane, southeast Queensland, down to the home of Grahame and Stephanie Gooding near Tintenbar in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales. The purpose of our trip was to take possession of what we have since come to call the 'Caroline Tennant-Kelly Collection'; the papers and effects left by the anthropologist at her passing in 1989. Its discovery was the culmination of some adroit detective work, and considerable perseverance on the part of Kim: first, via Heather Radi's online biography (, ascertaining that Tennant-Kelly had passed away in the town of Kyogle, and then taking the steps that led to finding her legacy in the hands of local cattleman Grahame Gooding.

It was a very joyful and exciting day, both for the Goodings and for us. There was a quality of the miraculous in the whole event, for we had been convinced that Tennant-Kelly's fieldnotes, unpublished papers, and the like had long since disappeared. And in regard to the facts of their preservation: undoubtedly the chances of the collection having wound up in the local tip greatly outweighed those of an intelligent and sensitive person utterly untrained in this field recognising their value, and with no prospect of personal gain, holding on to them for the intervening twenty years. As it was, Grahame's comment was simply that he thought the material looked like the work of an exceptional person and that if he took care of it someday someone would appear looking for it, which is exactly what happened. Considering the collection had spent twenty years in various spare rooms and sheds it was in marvelous condition: a riotous jumble of letters, manuscripts, notebooks, photographs and miscellanea contained in six dilapidated archival boxes and a large cardboard carton. We have since estimated it to consist of approximately 1,800 separate items.

Tennant-Kelly's career can be divided into four chapters, all of which are represented in the collection: her early life as a playwright and theatrical producer in Brisbane and Sydney (1922 to 1932), as anthropologist working in Aboriginal Studies in Queensland and New South Wales (1932 to 1940), as anthropologist specialising in, particularly, post-war immigration (1944 to 1955), and lastly her career in the sociological aspects of urban-planning, particularly the consequences and implications of Sydney's rapid post-war expansion (1955 to 1970). In addition, there is a great deal of personal material: letters, poems, family photographs, travel writing, and more.

Tennant-Kelly's anthropological work in Queensland initially sparked our interest in her, particularly her well-known Oceania article of 1935, 'Tribes on Cherburg Settlement, Queensland' (Kelly 1935). There was also the abstract of a paper, which was presumed lost, delivered at the 21st ANZAAS conference in 1932, 'The Aborigines of Fraser or Great Sandy Island, Queensland' (Kelly 1933; thankfully, it is included in the collection).

It is this second period of Tennant-Kelly's professional life that is likely to be of most interest to Australian anthropologists generally, although Tennant-Kelly's involvement in the socio-political dynamics of immigration and refugee policies during and after WWII most certainly warrants close inspection by anthropologists and others interested in those topics. Equally, her involvement in urban planning, possibly the result of shared interests with Margaret Mead, is fascinating. We intend to write about all these matters in due course, hopefully in the form of a biography and/or academic articles. We will deliver a more specific assessment of the collection at the conference 'Turning the Tide: Anthropology for Native Title in South-East Australia' organised by the University of Sydney and AIATSIS on 01 and 02 July 2010. Having now had the opportunity to undertake a preliminary exploration of the collection, we both feel it is no hyperbole to state that, in terms of southern Queensland at least, the collection represents the most significant body of Aboriginal ethnographic material to emerge since Winterbotham's work with Gaiarbau, Paddy Flynn and Cobbo Williams in the late 1950s, and, in terms of Cherbourg, surpassing in quality and extent the material gathered by Norman Tindale during his much shorter sojourn there some five years after Tennant-Kelly.

Before turning to an elaboration of Caroline's Australian ethnographic material it is pertinent to note the private correspondence between Margaret Mead and Tennant-Kelly, of which the collection includes some 100 pages. Tennant-Kelly and Mead were lifelong close friends, and it was their original fortuitous meeting in the late 1920s that inspired Tennant-Kelly to pursue a career in anthropology (see Radi's biography at; Tennant-Kelly's intimate friendship with Mead is briefly touched upon in Banner 2003). Their correspondence, particularly that from the late 1920s, is likely to add to the knowledge available on Mead's anthropological work, the Sydney academic social scene in which both moved, and their personal characters more generally. A significant part of their correspondence in the Caroline Tennant-Kelly Collection is not currently held in the Margaret Mead Papers and the South Pacific Ethnographic Archives at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. The collection also contains some fieldwork photographs by Margaret Mead. One previously unknown letter from Margaret to Caroline, dated 1930, and another from Phyllis Kaberry to Caroline, written during fieldwork at Maprik in New Guinea in 1939, will be on display at the University of Queensland Anthropology Museum's upcoming exhibition 'The Social Life of Things / Treasures' which opens on April 18, 2010. In addition, there is significant correspondence with, and references to, other anthropologists of note: A.P. Elkin, A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, Raymond Firth, Reo Fortune, Gregory Bateson, Ian Hogbin, S.F. Nadel, Camilla Wedgwood, Phyllis Kaberry and Ursula McConnell.

Having worked in native title in Central Queensland, and therefore acutely aware of the general paucity of historical Australian Aboriginal ethnographic material from the region, we could hardly contain our excitement at the quantum leap the Tennant-Kelly Collection represents in this regard. Firstly, there is the purely ethnographic material itself, collected, for the most part, under the headings of the ethno-linguistic groups. These groups are delineated in 'Tribes on Cherburg Settlement, Queensland' and consist of most of the groups well-known from the region: Batjala, Kabi, Wakka, Goa, Kalali, Bidjara, Gangulu and Darumbal. Significant material however was also collected from other groups such as the Wiri and Yirendali further north while references are made to groups from Cape York and the Gulf of Carpentaria. The amount and quality of information gathered for each one varies and depends, no doubt, on the availability and quality of Tennant-Kelly's respective informants.

Tennant-Kelly's line of enquiry into Aboriginal social organisation and religious life generally conforms to the anthropological interests of her day, and those we associate most strongly with the structural-functionalist approach of Radcliffe-Brown and her mentor Elkin. The primary data therefore includes wordlists (including kin terms), kinship structure diagrams, notes on totemism, religious ritual practices, territorial knowledge and genealogies; all the classic ethnographic concerns.

Broadly speaking, Tennant-Kelly was interested in a theme that stayed with her throughout her professional life and which she referred to as 'culture contact' (see, for example, Kelly 1944). Her focus in Queensland was therefore on the effect a Government Settlement like Cherbourg was having on Aboriginal society and culture. Space does not permit here an in-depth study of Tennant-Kelly's background and motivations; suffice it to say, she was an extraordinarily independent woman who was neither impressed nor intimidated by the behaviour of Queensland public servants and missionaries, an outlook that would eventually land her in trouble (see, for example, Kidd 1997: 125-136). Her correspondence with her husband Timothy in particular offers a frank and fascinating insight into the manipulation of the authorities by Tennant-Kelly and her Cherbourg informants, often recounted in a pleasing sardonic style. Her correspondence therefore provides a unique 'warts and all' picture of culture contact at Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement in the 1930s.

Given the materials it holds, this collection is likely to be of considerable interest to Aboriginal people throughout Queensland and New South Wales. There are numerous references to families and individuals and their link to particular groups and places. There is also correspondence from Cherbourg Aboriginal people to Tennant-Kelly in which their lived experiences at Cherbourg are vividly described. Perhaps most pleasing will be the extraordinary collection of photographs, most black and white, in which individuals and families might well be able to be identified. Significant too are the photographs and (glass) lantern slides depicting, out of sight from White administrators, the continuation of traditional religious and ceremonial activities at the Settlement.

The Aboriginal ethnographic material from New South Wales, while less than that from Queensland, will nonetheless be a considerable addition to that available for certain groups. A small notebook is typical, and revealing, of the interests Tennant-Kelly took into the field: alongside wordlists for Gumbayngirr, Dhangati, and a smaller list for a language called Birpar, with their informants named, it contains notes on the Aboriginal individuals and families in the Kempsey district and the often arduous and unjust treatment they received in their efforts to adjust to, and survive economically, in the wider Australian society. Unfortunately, this notebook with primary data is the only one from New South Wales. There is however some correspondence available from two other places she conducted fieldwork at in New South Wales: Wreck Bay and Tilba Tilba.

Less space can be devoted here to a discussion of Tennant-Kelly's early theatrical career, which was influential, nor of her research she later undertook in the areas of immigration and the sociology of Australian society, of which the collection contains much in the form of reports, theses and correspondence. While we are no experts in those fields we would be surprised if that material does not fulfill Elkin's assessment of Tennant-Kelly's contribution as '... of a high standard and national importance' (quoted in Gray 2007: 220).

From the moment one begins to study Tennant-Kelly, admiration and respect grows. This was a woman unusual in the Australian context: like her friend and colleague, Camilla Wedgwood, from an upper middle-class English background with a strong sense of social duty and confidence around political power. To some degree she stood outside Australian society, which is perhaps an ideal position for an anthropologist who had to negotiate the largely racist jungle of pre-war officialdom and emerge with any integrity. The Caroline Tennant-Kelly collection is a treasure that will assist immeasurably the understanding of various aspects of early to mid-twentieth century Australian society. It contains Aboriginal cultural material previously unknown and missing; and it will assist anthropologists, historians, linguists, political scientists and others in their analysis of key socio-political and cultural aspects of issues that continue to be relevant in Australia today. The collection is being donated to the Fryer Library at the University of Queensland.

We thank Professor David Trigger, supervisor of our respective PhD and MA anthropological research projects at the University of Queensland, for his assistance in our Tennant-Kelly research and for making this announcement publicly available through the UQ Anthropology Program website. While we are happy to answer questions regarding the significance and background of this collection, questions regarding access should be directed to the Fryer Library (phone +61 (0)7 3365 6236, email

  • Banner, L.W. 2003. Intertwined lives: Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and their circle. New York: Knopf.
  • Gray, G. 2007. A Cautious Silence: The Politics of Australian Anthropology. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.
  • Kelly, C. 1933. The Aborigines of Fraser or Great Sandy Island, Queensland. In Walkom, A.B. (ed.), Report of the Twenty-First Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science. Sydney: ANZAAS. p. 176.
  • Kelly, C. 1935. Tribes on Cherburg Settlement, Queensland. Oceania, 5(4): 461-473.
  • Kelly, C. 1944. Some Aspects of Culture Contact in Eastern Australia. Oceania, 15(2): 142-153.
  • Kidd, R. 1997. The Way We Civilise: Aboriginal Affairs - The Untold Story. St. Lucia: The University of Queensland Press.

Kim de Rijke


Amurdak Inyman (Mailhammer & Handelsmann)

Mailhammer, Robert and Robert Handelsmann. 2010. Amurdak Inyman. Six stories in Amudak told by Bill Neidjie and Nelson Mulurinj. Jabiru: Iwaidja Inyman.

This is the first publication of Amurdak texts, told by the late Bill Neidjie and Nelson Mulurinj. They were collected by Robert Handelsmann in the 1990s, and have been transcribed and translated into English by Robert Handelsmann and Robert Mailhammer. Apart from the stories, cultural, historical and cultural background the book features information on the storytellers and the linguistic work on Amurdak as well as a CD with recordings of the stories including versions in Iwaidja and a glossary of Amurdak words. The book can be ordered for AUD 70 from, by phone (+61 8 8941 8066) or by emailing Robert Mailhammer. All profit from sales of this book will go to the Indigenous language team for recording and publishing their endangered cultural knowledge. Your support will help maintain the linguistic and cultural diversity of northwestern Arnhem Land.

John Mailhammer

Upcoming Conferences

CfP: NWAV Asia-Pacific

New Ways of Analyzing Language Variation and Change: Asia-Pacific Region
February 23-26, 2011, University of Delhi, India

Keynote Speaker: William Labov, University of Pennsylvania

Conference Coordinator: Shobha Satyanath, Department of Linguistics, University of Delhi

The annual North American meeting of New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV) has a long and influential history of bringing together scholars researching language variation and change. Likewise, European conference series have provided opportunities for scholars working on this paradigm in Europe (e.g., ICLaVE). We believe that it is now time to develop a related conference series focused on the Asia-Pacific region. After all, the Asia-Pacific region includes some of the world's most sociolinguistically complex societies, many of which are being studied by local and international sociolinguists. We therefore invite you to join us in inaugurating a new regional conference, NWAV ASIA-PACIFIC (NWAV-AP), to serve as an 'Asian branch' of NWAV.

The first meeting of NWAV ASIA-PACIFIC will be held at the University of Delhi, India, February 23-26, 2011. We are happy to announce that William Labov has kindly agreed to be the keynote speaker. The research that this conference endeavors to bring together will be firmly based on empirical data with an emphasis on quantitative analysis of variation and change. We welcome abstract submissions for 20-minute conference talks on a wide range of topics in language variation and change across the Asia-Pacific region, including speech communities, multilingualism, urbanization and migration, sociophonetics, individual variation and style-shifting in complex speech communities, language contact, variation in minority languages, dialect variation and change, dialect contact, variation in acquisition, language change across the lifespan, perceptual dialectology, and other related topics such as technological resources for sociolinguistic research.

Considering the diverse opportunities and research challenges in the ever- increasing, multilingual spaces of Asia, we believe that such a forum is not only highly relevant but urgently needed. We're taking this first step in the series with the hope that others will join us in helping to make this conference a regular event at other Asian-Pacific locations in the future. We hope to see you in India for this inaugural meeting of NWAV ASIA-PACIFIC!

One-page abstracts should be submitted online by August 8, 2010 on the conference website or

Notifications about acceptance will be sent in early September.

For any questions, please contact the NWAV ASIA-PACIFIC planning committee:

  • Coordinator: Shobha Satyanath, University of Delhi, Delhi, India:
  • James Stanford, Dartmouth College:
  • Victoria Rau, Wheaton College & National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan:
  • Webmaster: Sarah Lee, Rice University:

James Stanford

CfP: Language, Culture and Social Connectedness

Symposium: Language, Culture and Social Connectedness in Our Diverse Landscape

The 'Language, Culture and Social Connectedness in our Diverse Landscape' symposium will be held at the Toowoomba campus, University of Southern Queensland on 22 September 2010.

The Faculty of Education and Open Access College at the University of Southern Queensland are hosting a one-day symposium, with the theme of Language, culture and social connectedness in our diverse landscape. This one-day symposium invites teachers, students, researchers and change agents in the community to present their studies of the linguistic, cultural and social variables that impact social connectedness in multi-cultural Australia.

We invite members of all faculties and academics across universities to submit an abstract for a presentation at the symposium and for consideration as a paper for a peer-reviewed publication.

Topics include but are not limited to

  • Identity
  • Social inclusion
  • Bilingualism
  • Language learning
  • Critical pedagogy
  • ESL
  • Academic English
  • Community expectations
  • Online experience
  • Digital literacy
  • Heritage and community languages
  • Social justice
  • Policy
  • Language maintenance
  • Analysis of discourse

Further details available at

Kerry Taylor-Leech

Jobs, grants, and scholarships

PhD position, Linguistics, School of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Melbourne

The PhD is attached to an Australian Research Council-funded project titled 'Doing great things with small languages' (CIs are Rachel Nordlinger and Nick Thieberger). This project aims to explore what a documentary grammar of a language can be, and the extent to which documentation and theory can be mutually beneficial. The PhD will involve fieldwork on a previously undescribed language in Australia, Vanuatu or the region. The department is part of the PARADISEC ( consortium and this project emphasises the citation of primary data in linguistic analysis. There is already one PhD student working in the project and the two CIs are working with speakers of Australian languages. A longer description of the project goals can be found at

Applicants will need to successfully apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) or International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) (for non-Australian citizens) and in addition to that scholarship we are offering fieldwork expenses and a stimulating cohort of students involved in fieldwork-based linguistic projects.

Details on applying for a PhD place at the University of Melbourne are available at

Deadline: To apply to be a part of this project, please send your CV (including academic record) and an 800-1000 word research proposal to Dr Nick Thieberger by June 21st 2010.

Nick Thieberger

Linguist Position, Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre

Position available for a linguist to join the supportive team at Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre and contribute to the vital task of documenting endangered Aboriginal languages. The Pilbara region is rich in language and culture and provides a fantastic fieldwork opportunity. The successful applicant will be a highly skilled and motivated team player.

Applications due 10 June 2011. Please address selection criteria and send with resume to Jessica Denniss,

Linguist Job Description

Position title: Linguist
Classification: Level 7: $63,699pa
(Plus air-conditioning allowance, district allowance, annual airfare etc. as detailed in the Wangka Maya Enterprise Agreement)
Section: Language team
Award: Wangka Maya Enterprise Agreement
Responsible to: Senior Linguist
Date prepared: 5 May 2011

Work as a key member of the language team to document Pilbara languages and produce resources that may be aimed at the local community, the general public or the linguistic community.


  1. Use linguistic skills to record, analyse and document Pilbara languages
  2. Work across a range of Pilbara languages to produce a variety of resources
  3. Be responsible for project managing assigned tasks
  4. Ensure all work is properly archived in digital format for access and posterity
  5. Develop relationships and networks with the Aboriginal community
  6. Support Language Workers with mentoring and informal training
  7. Undertake any other duties as directed by the Senior Linguist

Selection criteria


  1. Tertiary qualification in linguistics
  2. Skills in linguistic documentation including data collection, transcription and analysis
  3. Ability to use or learn standard linguistic software and technology as well as general computer competence
  4. Written and interpersonal communication skills, including cultural sensitivity
  5. Willingness to travel to remote communities
  6. Ability to provide informal training to language workers
  7. Ability to work as part of a team
  8. Current driver’s licence
  9. National Police Check and Working with Children Check, or ability to obtain them


  1. Knowledge of Aboriginal languages
  2. Experience working in Aboriginal communities
Jessica Denniss

About ALS

The Australian Linguistic Society is the national organization for linguists and linguistics in Australia. Its primary goal is to further interest in and support for linguistics research and teaching in Australia. Further information about the Society is available by clicking here.

The ALS Newsletter is issued four times per year, in the middle of February, May, August and November. Copy for the Newsletter should be sent to the Editor, Tim Curnow ( by the end of the first week of February, May, August and November. There is a list of people who are automatically advised that it's time to contribute material; if you wish to be added to that list, send Tim an email.

Unless you paid for several years at a time, or have given the Treasurer your credit card details and permission to use it, subscriptions for ALS are due at the beginning of each calendar year; the year you are paid up to is shown on the address label on the envelope your copy of the Australian Journal of Linguistics comes in. A subscription form is available by clicking here.

The only membership list is maintained by the Treasurer, Doug Absalom ( If you wish to check your membership status, change your address or make some other enquiry, please contact Doug.