Presented to the Australian Linguistic Society annual meeting, University of Newcastle, 27 September 2003.

Interpretation and re-presentation of historical language materials:
Laves' 1931 Nyungar notes

John Henderson (UWA), Andrew Gargett (UWA), David Nash (AIATSIS), Denham Harry (UWA)


Nyungar is one of a number of languages recorded by Gerhardt Laves in
1929-31. His Nyungar field notes are an important source of
linguistic and cultural knowledge of south-west WA. The materials
consist of 2270 slips and 1550 notebook pages, some of which are in
poor condition. Issues in interpretation of the notes include image
quality and the legibility of handwriting, and the extensive set of
special symbols devised by Laves, not all of which are documented in
the notes.

The current project, commissioned by AIATSIS, has started
transcribing these notes with the goal of making them more readily
useable for language research, especially by the Nyungar community. A
protocol for the project was developed with community members to
address cultural concerns. The transcription system allows for
multiple presentations of the content, including facsimiles of the
original pages. The system employs XML markup to preserve the major
aspects of the original layout while classifying the content to
facilitate searching and extraction of specific types of information.
Interpretative annotation is also being added at some points,
including cross-references within the materials and to other sources.
The system is designed to provide for continuing annotation by future

List of publications drawing on Laves' work

Main Laves page

Last changed 8 October 2003