Making Dictionaries For Indigenous Languages PDF Print E-mail

A workshop at AIATSIS
Canberra, 25-27 November 2004
Convenors: Patrick McConvell AIATSIS and Jenny Green,
Alice Springs

Many Indigenous communities and Regional Aboriginal Language Centres around Australia are at various stages of compiling dictionaries of their languages. For these communities this is among the most important tasks of cultural maintenance since the dictionary is a storehouse of all the special ways of talking about their culture and environment which are in danger of being lost.

Many Indigenous communities and Regional Aboriginal Language Centres around Australia are at various stages of compiling dictionaries of their languages. For these communities this is among the most important tasks of cultural maintenance since the dictionary is a storehouse of all the special ways of talking about their culture and environment which are in danger of being lost.

Dictionary-making is a difficult exercise and many groups have been struggling with the technical aspects of it and calling for assistance.This is especially so since most dictionaries now are being produced digitally on computers with special software. If these techniques are mastered, this allows not only for quicker and better paper publication but also publication of multimedia (talking' and picture) dictionaries on CD-ROMs and the Internet.

There is spin-off from this for the capacity of the workers on the project in more general computer use, and the communal sessions collecting words and their meanings and use have proved to benefit community coherence and cultural maintenance.The dictionaries themselves once produced in digital form can easily provide many different types of educational materials.

The time is right now to provide information and training on best practice in dictionary- making, including local and regional control of the processes, and discussion of the rights issues involved.AIATSIS and other experts and groups linked to it have a long history of supporting dictionary research and publication of dictionaries and are well placed to host this workshop, in conjunction with the AIATSIS conference 2004. See in particular the Registration information there. Possible topics for the workshops are:

1.Data management and archiving, ownership and accessing of dictionary materials
2.Beyond paper — options for multimedia dictionaries
3.The use of dictionaries in language and culture programs in schools — two-way programs
4.User-friendly dictionary design
  — the relationship between compilers, editors, designers and publishers
5.Dictionary entry design
  — definitions, polysemy. One meaning or ten?
6.Funding support for dictionary programs
7.Training for indigenous linguists

It is hoped that the program will include hands-on use of programs, including concrete outcomes (eg. Manual, publication series, further training).

For further information please contact AIATSIS on 0262461111 or visit the website www.aiatsis.gov.au

Transformations

A landmark conference in Canberra bring together artists, community members, business and policy makers to explore building a global understanding of cultural value and to develop strategies which integrate culture into future planning for Australia.

This is an international Conference looking at local and global trends in cultural diversity and sustainable development

Where:Australian National University, Canberra
When: 7-9 February, 2005

For more information, including submission of papers and registration details, visit www.fecca.org.au