Issues to Think About Before and After Working on Indigenous Language Projects in Remote Areas

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review


There are many issues that affect language and linguistic projects that linguists, linguistic organisations and registered training organisations may not yet be aware exist. These include training, sociological, environmental and cultural issues. Some can be resolved through the training of indigenous and non-indigenous language researchers but others cannot. Several of the issues which are not amenable to training solutions can be resolved through language and
linguistic organisations, but there are also others which are so embedded in culture that they may not be resolvable in some language communities. It is important for non-indigenous language researchers to be aware of these issues when working with remote indigenous language communities. It is also important for linguists to know about them prior to starting work with indigenous Australians on language projects.
This paper draws on concerns raised by indigenous people, including elders, indigenous language researchers and other community members, during recent fieldwork in the Torres Strait, Cairns, Townsville and communities in Central Australia, Top End Northern Territory, the Pilbara and the Kimberley. Their concerns include: Community status; linguistic fluency; working together as one; appropriate terminology; benefits to the community; and respect and recognition for all participants.
The data shows that many of these issues are still current, despite being aired for some 30 years. The paper therefore aims to raise awareness so that language projects and the relationships between community and non-indigenous linguists are more successful for all involved.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSelected Papers From The 2005 Australian Linguistic Society Conference Proceedings
EditorsKeith Allan
Place of PublicationAustralia
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes
EventAustralian Linguistic Society Annual Conference -
Duration: 1 Jan 2011 → …


ConferenceAustralian Linguistic Society Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleALS Conference
Period1/01/11 → …


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