[lg policy] book notice: Searching for Aboriginal Languages: Dixon: Memoirs of a Field Worker

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 10 15:40:28 UTC 2011

Searching for Aboriginal Languages: Dixon

Title: Searching for Aboriginal Languages
Subtitle: Memoirs of a Field Worker
Published: 2011
Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Author: R. M. W. Dixon


In the early 1960s, R. M. W. (Bob) Dixon was one of the first linguists to study
the Aboriginal languages of northeast Queensland, Australia. He found that
some languages of the coastal rainforest were still in daily use, but
others were
only half-remembered by a single elder. This autobiographical account of
fourteen years of research, first published in 1984, paints a
fascinating picture of
the frontier society that existed in the region nearly fifty years
ago. It reveals the
difficulties and the excitement of linguistic fieldwork, but most of
all it focuses
on the people who agreed to work with Dixon and patiently helped him to
understand their dauntingly complex languages. They allowed him to record their
legends and songs and spent many hours answering his questions; this book is
a poignant reminder of the fragility of their ancient culture.

Table of Contents

1. Setting off;
2. 'Haven't you got a machine?';
3. 'You never talk it to me!';
4. Full of unforgettable characters;
5. 'Time to get back to wife';
6. 'Drink this!';
7. 'Of course we'll keep in touch';
8. 'Doing all these Jalnguy';
9. Lots of linguistic expertise;
10. 'This way be bit more better';
11. 'Happiness and fun';
12. 'It's not';
13. 'Those are good for you';
14. Loss;
15. 'I think I like that language best';


Pronunciation of Aboriginal words;

Tribal and language names.


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