Between duty statement and reality: the "linguist/coordinator" at an Australian Indigenous language centre

Olawsky, Knut J. (2014) Between duty statement and reality: the "linguist/coordinator" at an Australian Indigenous language centre. Language Documentation and Conservation, 8. pp. 361-383.

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Abstract

The size of Australian Indigenous language centres varies from small programs with a single employment position up to large organisations which may involve several linguists, a manager and a range of support staff. This article is based on the linguist's work at an organisation at the smaller end of the scale – Mirima Dawang Woorlabgerring Language and Culture Centre (MDWg), which operates out of Kununurra in the remote East Kimberley Region of Western Australia. Following a brief introduction to the context and history of language work at MDWg, the author sheds light on typical community expectations, which cover an array of different language-related and nonlinguistic tasks. In a scenario where the linguist and coordinator roles are assigned to a single person it becomes clear that the range of duties can be overwhelmingly diverse and go beyond anything a linguist is exposed to during his/her academic studies. The article proceeds by identifying a range of challenges for a linguist/coordinator, addressing issues such as efficiency, balance, burnout and career planning. For each challenge, possible solutions are offered, with the vision of turning challenge into opportunity. The article concludes with a set of recommendations directed at various stakeholders in the work of Indigenous language centres.

Item ID: 38545
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: Australian languages, Australian Indigenous language centre, Indigenous community language program
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Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

ISSN: 1934-5275
Date Deposited: 05 May 2015 00:48
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 100%
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