Piers Kelly writes:

Earlier this month the inaugural Talkley Award was presented to celebrity linguist Kate Burridge at a small ceremony in Canberra.

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The award acknowledges the contributions of Australian linguists who promote language awareness in the public arena. As well as her appearances on ABC radio and television, Burridge was recognised for her part in getting linguistics into Victorian high schools and for her contributions to the development of the national curriculum.

“People care deeply about language and I love doing this sort of work,” Burridge said. “In fact a lot of my research has been inspired by the general public – many wonderful comments and questions that have taken me down linguistic paths I would never have imagined”

The award ceremony was part of Langfest 2011, a series of language-related conferences and workshops being held in Canberra over the first half of December. Langfest has had so many nerdsome highlights, that I don’t really know where to begin.

Personal favourites: Sarah Ogilvie on the dictionaries of the future, Tim McNamara on using language to assess refugee claims, Diana Eades on language and Aboriginal participation in the legal system, Simon Musgrave and Kate Burridge on possible Irish features in 19th century Australian speech written records, and the mindblowing Auslan signers who simultaneously interpreted some of the sessions.

Fully sickos were represented by Lauren Gawne talking about communicating through gesture (and a delightful talk on LOLcats, see the previous post), William Steed on tone in Lishui, and your humble correspondent on the structure of a created language from the Philippines.

Langfest also brought the Linguistics in the Pub movement to the capital with plans to expand to other cities too. Stay tuned!


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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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