Australex 2005 was held on September 27 at Trinity College, University
of Melbourne. The keynote address was given by Ghil'ad
Zuckermann, who presented a critical analysis of the politics, policies
and processes of the Academy of the Hebrew Language. Zuckermann described
the Academy's mission, "'to direct the development of Hebrew in light
of its nature", as "Realistic Prescriptivism".
The theme "Dictionaries and the Community" linked the twelve
presentations, which ranged from innovative, conceptual and theoretical
to practical and humorous in their approaches to lexicography, despite
- or perhaps because of - several presenters' claims that they were neither
lexicographer nor linguist.
Sharon Armstrong presented work
on Te Matapuna
- the first monolingual Maori Dictionary, and discussed the ethical and
theoretical questions faced by the group as they sought to arrange the
lexicon by semantic categories inherent in Maori. Thematic organisation
was also a feature of the Vernacular Picture Dictionaries developed to
enhance literacy in Central Australia. In the creation of the dictionaries,
Robert Hoogenraad and Jenny
Green worked collaboratively with members of the speech communities
in the selection of appropriate visual representations for each concept,
eg. capturing the essence of rock-hole-ness.
The lexical accommodation, innovation and conceptual challenges of translation
resulting from Aboriginal contact with Christianity were the subject of
Michael Walsh's presentation. Continuing
with terminology from a historical perspective, Verna
Rieschild gave us a glimpse into the culture-specific lexical inventory
of subordinates and dependents in Medieval Arabic society.
The thread of words and history was followed by Bernadette
Hince, author of The Antarctic dictionary: a complete guide to
Antarctic English, to the other end of the world in her creation of
a dictionary of polar English: English at the ends of the earth, jokingly
titled A Bi-Polar Disordered Dictionary.
Despite its humorous title, there was a more serious side to the presentation
by June Factor, chronicling the creation
of Kidspeak: A Dictionary of Australian Children's Words, Expressions
and Games. It gathers together sayings, chants and jokes, expressions
of children's verbal humour taken from the playground and not all savoury
to potential publishers.
Taking the technical terminology of food to a more serious level, Jirapa
Vitayapirak is preparing for a dictionary of food engineering terminology
in English for Thai-speaking students, "bringing Thailand into the
world's kitchen". On a similar practical level is Julia
Miller's study (at Flinders University) of the effectiveness of English
Learners Dictionaries for international students, specifically in teaching
the use of English articles.
Jan Tent introduced his forthcoming
Macquarie Dictionary of English for the Fiji Islands, a new entry
among the growing ranks of diverse world English dictionaries. The concentration
of the language community in Fiji contrasts with the interspersion of
the (minority) deaf community amongst the (majority) hearing population
in Australia. Trevor Johnston's
presentation: "Language planning, sign language dictionaries and
the deaf community" discussed the challenges posed for Auslan lexicography
by this demographic, and referred to social change and technological innovations
which are improving the communication possibilities of the deaf community,
by such means as the Auslan
Signbank, an internet-based community dictionary which allows members
of a virtual linguistic community to access, contribute to and update
their own lexicon.
At the end of the day we moved from the intimate former chapel of Trinity
College to join the teeming throngs at Michael Clyne's joint ALAA/ALS
plenary, where we were encouraged to take on social responsibility, escape
the monolingual mindset and work together as linguists, putting differences
aside in the face of greater threats - and to celebrate together at his