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Between duty statement and reality – The “Linguist/Coordinator” at an Australian Indigenous language centre

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Title: Between duty statement and reality – The “Linguist/Coordinator” at an Australian Indigenous language centre
Authors: Olawsky, Knut J.
Keywords: Australian languages
Australian Indigenous language centre
Indigenous community language program
Issue Date: Oct 2014
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Citation: Olawsky, Knut J. 2014. Between duty statement and reality – The “Linguist/Coordinator” at an Australian Indigenous language centre. Language Documentation & Conservation 8. 361-383.
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. *This paper is in the series The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia, edited by John Henderson.
Sponsor: National Foreign Language Resource Center
Pages/Duration: 23
ISSN: 1934-5275
Appears in Collections:Volume 08 : Language Documentation & Conservation

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