LD&C Special Publication No. 5: Melanesian languages on the edge of Asia: Challenges for the 21st Century

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    Introduction: Linguistic challenges of the Papuan region
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2012-12-20) Evans, Nicholas ; Klamer, Marian
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    Front matter, Table of contents, Contributors
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2012-12-20)
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    Keeping records of language diversity in Melanesia: The Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC)
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2012-12-20) Barwick, Linda ; Thieberger, Nicholas
    At the turn of this century, a group of Australian linguistic and musicological researchers recognised that a number of small collections of unique and often irreplaceable field recordings mainly from the Melanesian and broader Pacific regions were not being properly housed and that there was no institution in the region with the capacity to take responsibility for them. The recordings were not held in appropriate conditions and so were deteriorating and in need of digitisation. Further, there was no catalog of their contents or their location so their existence was only known to a few people, typically colleagues of the collector. These practitioners designed the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC), a digital archive based on internationally accepted standards (Dublin Core/Open Archives Initiative metadata, International Asociation of Sound Archives audio standards and so on) and obtained funding to build an audio digitisation suite in 2003. This is a new conception of a data repository, built into workflows and research methods of particular disciplines, respecting domain-specific ethical concerns and research priorities, but recognising the need to adhere to broader international standards. This paper outlines the way in which researchers involved in documenting languages of Melanesia can use PARADISEC to make valuable recordings available both to the research community and to the source communities.
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    Cross-cultural differences in representations and routines for exact number
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2012-12-20) Frank, Michael
    The relationship between language and thought has been a focus of persistent interest and controversy in cognitive science. Although debates about this issue have occurred in many domains, number is an ideal case study of this relationship because the details (and even the existence) of exact numeral systems vary widely across languages and cultures. In this article I describe how cross-linguistic and cross-cultural diversity—in Amazonia, Melanesia, and around the world—gives us insight into how systems for representing exact quantities affect speakers’ numerical cognition. This body of evidence supports the perspective that numerals provide representations for storing and manipulating quantity information. In addition, the differing structure of quantity representations across cultures can lead to the invention of widely varied routines for numerical tasks like enumeration and arithmetic.
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    From mountain talk to hidden talk: Continuity and change in Awiakay registers
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2012-12-20) Hoenigman, Darja
    When the Awiakay of East Sepik Province in Papua New Guinea left their village or bush camps and went to the mountains, they used a different linguistic register, ‘mountain talk’, in which several lexical items are replaced by their avoidance terms. In this way the Awiakay would prevent mountain spirits from sending sickness or dense fog in which they would get lost on their journeys. Over the last decade people’s trips to the mountain have become more frequent due to the eaglewood business. However, Christianity caused a decline in the use of ‘mountain talk’. Yet a linguistic register similar in its form and function has sprung up in a different setting: kay menda, ‘different talk’, or what people sometimes call ‘hidden talk’, is used when the Awiakay go to the town to sell eaglewood and buy goods. Like other cultural phenomena, linguistic registers are historical formations, which change in form and value over time. This paper aims to show how although in a different social setting, with an expanded repertoire and a slightly different function, kay menda is in a way a continuity of the ‘mountain talk’.