Improving the online profile of the Ngan’gi Language Collection

Dr Paddy Tobias1, Associate Professor Nick Reid2

1Intersect Australia, Armidale, Australia,

2University of New England, Armidale, Australia


For over 30 years, Associate Professor Nick Reid has conducted descriptive and documentary linguistics research in the Daly River region of the Northern Territory. Over this time A/Prof Reid has collected a large body of fieldnotes, including transcribed texts, photography, and video and audio recordings of many stories, mostly by speakers of the Ngan’gi language. Until now, online presentations of this rich collection have suffered from low discoverability and accessibility for the research community, and have allowed only passive engagement by the speech community. This paper describes the ANDS-funded Collection Enhancement Project to increase the online discoverability and analytic utility of this significant collection and offers a number of solutions for other researchers with similar collections to employ.

Of course, with the increase in discoverability comes a number of needs including the ability to present only particular content to certain user-groups, enable a high-level of interaction with the collection, and to maintain trust, ownership and sensitivity of the speech community in the online presentation. The paper will discuss the two web-based tools chosen to meet these needs, including the content management system, Murkutu, and the inter-linear text reader for transcribed audio-visual recordings, EOPAS. Both tools are open source and perfectly suited for presenting ethno-linguistic content. The paper will demonstrate the innovative integration of the EOPAS tool into the Murkutu environment, the ability to define multiple user-groups, as well as the dynamic language dictionary feature of Murkutu, all of which would be attractive for the presentation of other digital ethno-linguistic collections.

The Ngan’gi website is an example of the potentials for online presentations of cultural collections in an interactive and multi-communal way. Rather than presenting the web content in a passive manner, the Ngan’gi Language website is a forum through which linguistic researchers can access, critically engage with and contribute to materials such as transcriptions and time alignment files. In addition, the website allows the speech community to actively shape the linguistic and cultural identity presented to the wider world by adding new material to collections, setting access privileges for user-communities, and contribute to language maintenance and revival activities.



Nick Reid is an Associate Professor in the School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences. His main linguistic specialisation is the study of Australian Aboriginal languages of the Daly River region (NT). He has published grammars, dictionaries and text collections of the two languages, Ngan’gikurunggurr and Ngen’giwumirri.

Nick’s descriptive work has fuelled other research interests, primarily within the areas of morphological and syntactic typology, language description, historical linguistics and ethnomusicology. He is particularly interested in systems of nominal and verbal classification, and has co-edited a book on nominal classification in Australian languages.

Dr Paddy Tobias – As the Intersect eResearch Analyst at the University of New England, Paddy’s role is to help researchers enhance their research projects through eResearch capabilities. Paddy’s research background is in political and social anthropology, and is a keen observer of how digital research approaches can be applied to this academic realm.

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