Getting in Touch: Bird app development
The Getting in Touch bird apps enable people to listen to recordings of language names for birds alongside photographs of birds and the sounds of their calls. The apps present short stories about birds as well, telling about their cultural significance, behaviour and habitats in Indigenous languages and in English. Knowledge of plants and animals and their place in country and culture is highly valued by Indigenous peoples. Digital technologies have a role to play in maintaining and respecting this knowledge, and passing it on to the next generations.
The idea of sharing resources and expertise and making apps for a number of languages began at the Getting in Touch workshop in Alice Springs in Central Australia in April 2014. Language teams from Indigenous communities, linguists and technology specialists came together to discuss the development of digital tools that meet community goals of maintaining language and cultural practices. The project arose out of concern that the majority of digital resources available to Indigenous users are in English, even though English is not a first language for many. At the workshop Indigenous ecological knowledge was one of several domains that emerged for app development, alongside kinship and apps to support knowledge of mental health and emotional states.
The first app from this project, a Kaytetye bird app called Thangkerne Kaytetye Birds, was developed by Ben Foley, Margaret Carew (Batchelor Institute), Myfany Turpin (University of Sydney), and Alison Ross (Artarre community), and released in 2015. The first version of Thangkerne was based on open source software developed by Museum Victoria for flora and fauna field guides. The new apps are using the open source Jila framework, developed by ThoughtWorks with Mabu Yawuru Ngan-ga, the Yawuru language centre in Western Australia.
In May 2017 the Arrernte bird app was released as a companion app for a beautiful book Ayeye Thipe-akerte: Arrernte stories about birds: read more about the project on the Centre for Aboriginal Languages and Linguistics website. Another combination of book and companion app will be released later in 2017: Nga-ni kun-red ngarduk man-djewk na-kudji ‘A year in my country’ is a book about seasons on Kune country by Jill Yirrindili and Aung Si, with illustrations by Jennifer Taylor. Read more about th project on the Centre for Aboriginal Languages and Linguistics website.
Below is a list of all apps publically available so far: search the name in your preferred app store, and download the apps to your own device!
|Language name/varieties:||In app store, search for:||Want more info? web address:|
Dhauwurd Wurrung, Djargurt
|See our April 2017 newsletter|
The Getting in Touch project was jointly funded by the Melbourne Social Equity Institute (The University of Melbourne), RUIL (Research Unit for Indigenous Language, The University of Melbourne), BI (The Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education) and FLA (First Languages Australia). Continuing work on app development is jointly managed and funded by RUIL and Batchelor Institute.
Re-integrating Central Australian community cultural collections
The ARC Linkage project 'Re-integrating Central Australian community cultural collections' (LP140100806) is a partnership between the Central Land Council (CLC), the peak Indigenous representative body covering the southern half of the Northern Territory; the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne. This project addresses 3 main questions:
- How can Central Australian Indigenous people better access their cultural records held in dispersed collections?
- How can systems be established that enable efficient and culturally appropriate mobilization of archival materials?
- How can archival access be established in ways that do not violate cultural protocols surrounding rights of access to and dissemination of cultural information?
This project will apply current research on archiving and community access to find practical solutions to managing the large amounts of recorded cultural material of interest to the Central Land Council and its constituents. It will identify and integrate information in a common database, work with community members to create a prioritised list of at-risk materials, apply locally meaningful categories for managing the archival materials, and develop strategies to support ongoing sustainability of the collections. As well as safeguarding at-risk materials, it will support Central Land Council strategic activities in land management and intergenerational knowledge transfer, and provide a framework for repatriation policy development.
Those involved are: Linda Barwick, Myfany Turpin and Petronella Vaarzon-Morel (The University of Sydney); Rachel Nordlinger and Jennifer Green (The University of Melbourne); Brian Connelly (Central Land Council)
Taemi documentation project
2015 Field Methods Class: documenting Taemi (PNG)
Field Methods is a class offered every second year by the School of Languages and Linguistics, for honours students. The subject provides students with the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of linguistic fieldwork, working with a native speaker of an underdocumented language, in a supported environment.
Semester two last year saw a group of dedicated students working with Gertrude Elai, a first-language Taemi speaker from Papua New Guinea, who was a student at Melbourne University for 2015. Taemi (or Tami) is an Austronesian language from Papua New Guinea, spoken in the Morobe provence, to the south of Lae. There has been very little work done on Taemi, and the field methods class worked with her with the goal of producing a dictionary and sketch grammar of the language. They also produced a Taemi version of the Frog Story book, which was printed and has been taken back by Gertrude to her community. When she received the copies of the book, Gertrude said: "I am over the moon, happy crying. This is so big for my people."
The Daly languages project
From 1980 until the mid-1990s, Dr Ian Green conducted linguistic fieldwork in the Daly region in the Northern Territory. During this time he created an extensive collection of audio recordings, field notes and analyses on many of the languages in the area. Most of these languages are no longer spoken by more than a few elderly speakers, and there has been very little published on any of them, making Green's collection a treasure trove of precious language material.
The Daly Languages project aims to make this incredible collection available to the families and communities of the people Green worked with, as well as the general public, via a website portal. This portal provides direct links to the digitized audio recordings, and will also include (where possible) other resources on the languages, as well as a map contextualising the language area, the historical relationships between the Daly languages and some brief grammatical sketches. This portal is the first of its kind for Australian Indigenous languages, and represents a new direction in packaging and making easily accessible legacy linguistic material.
In July 2016 Green and Nordlinger travelled throughout the Daly region on a repatriation trip, visiting the family members of all the speakers and returning copies of the recordings via USB. Photos of this trip can be seen on The Daly Languages website. You can read more about the trip in an article in the University of Melbourne Pursuit magazine.
The Daly Languages Project is a collaboration between Ian Green and Rachel Nordlinger (Director, Research Unit for Indigenous Language), and has been financially supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language.