July 06, 2007

Politics and getting on with it

I've found all the politics stuff that's been in the news lately really full on. I've been thinking about it lots and have had lots to say, but then at the same time, I don't quite know what to say and don't quite know what to think. Generally though, I find it pretty scary what the government is doing - and I think the fear comes about from the poor communication - when no one can tell you or knows what's happening, you can't really reassure yourself that everything's okay. One thing I can say though, is that the government's actions definitely have political motivations - no one can convince me otherwise of that.

I was a bit depressed about it all a week or so ago, but I sorta came to the conclusion that I'll just get on with what we're trying to do here and then the proof (of our worth) will be in the pudding.

And have we been doing some good work or what? The 4 ppl working with me on CDEP are doing really well at the moment and are a good little team. The highlight being AJ and AD learning how to digitise old recordings from cassette onto the computer. So now we have 19 short Marra texts that are 33 years old digitised and can now be burned off as audio CDs. Even better is that I've shown AD, AJ and JJ how to update the written versions of the texts into the current Marra orthography so now we have these old recording that were sitting there not doing much now coming to life - on CD and printed off in a much more readable format. So cool.

You know, when I started working in communities, I was probably no different from most linguists when they start off. Fieldwork seemed to be about documenting language from an old person and the function of community members was little more than providing oral language - all the recording, writing, analysis was then done by the munanga linguist. But what I love about my work at the moment is that the guys I work with are doing more and more of everything - transcribing, typing up stuff, uploading sound files, recording, creating materials etc. One of my 'dreams' I wrote down at the start of the year is that I wanted my role to be more of that of 'coach' (someone who trains and directs) rather than 'player' (the person doing all the footwork)... and we seem to be slowly getting there.

Good work guys!


Anonymous said...

That's very encouraging, Gagu, and a very good way to use CDEP, since it well and truly falls under the 'cultural development' scope.

We had Robert McKnight MLA come and talk to us here during the week - though as he's a politician I'll take what he says with a grain of salt. He made a strong point of the government's measures that appear to have been provoked by the report, such as further restrictions on alcohol availability and the possibility of a ban on pornography, as opposed to the measures that were certainly not provoked by the report and appear to have been in the pipeline for years, such as the permit system, the land grabs and all the rest of it. I'm a bit overwhelmed with it all to be honest.

When's the footy on?

Karimarra said...

Congratulations Wamut - it is great to hear of your success. We have been advocating skills transfer and partnerships to our students at SOAS for the last few years and it is great to see that you are seeing real results from your work in the field. We'll certainly pass that message on.

Btw, isn't the metaphor that the proof is in the eating, not in the pudding? :-)

Sophie said...

Wamut, you and the language centre mob continue to create wonders, little ones, big ones and sideways ones, but most incredibly over the last few years you have made it into a consistant thing, everytime I read your blog I shake my head with another wonder.

Good onyas

Greg Dickson said...

thanks for the comments guys.

Gagu, the footy is on every weekend (except when the Katherine Show is on) - details in the Katherine times

peter, i'm embarrassed that i've got the metaphor wrong - my excuse is that I work with ESL speakers and in a Kriol speaking community, and it's true that my English is nowhere near as sharp as it would be if I lived in the big smoke... but then I can't say that I still would have gotten the metaphor right if I lived elsewhere ... but you know what I meant and anyway, I can create language change if i want!

And mami, thank you... your words of encouragement are always encouraging. :-)