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EDITING editing aboriginal voices

Editing Aboriginal voices

Editing Aboriginal writing: is it different?

Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or Indigenous?

Australian Aboriginal English

Representing people's voices in print: English words

Representing people's voices in print: language words

Glossing Aboriginal languages

CATE workshop, August 2009

Useful resources for those editing Aboriginal writing

Useful resources when editing Aboriginal writing

At the time of writing, all the major Aboriginal-controlled publishing houses (Aboriginal Studies Press, Magabala Books and IAD Press) broadly adhere to the Style Manual and the Macquarie Dictionary. These are items that any practising editor in Australia will have on her bookshelf, but what else might be useful? Here's a brief list; I look forward to your suggested additions.

little red, yellow and black book The Little Red, Yellow and Black Book: An introduction to Indigenous Australia. Written by Bruce Pascoe with AIATSIS and published by Aboriginal Studies Press, this colourful pocket book covers a wide range of topics from the big ('Reconciliation and Celebration') to the thorny ('What We're Called').

Robyn Sheahan-Bright brought the Black Words site to my attention. Black Words is "an information-rich website, a searchable database and a forum for communication. It supersedes AustLit's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Writers subset which was created from 2001-2006 through the commitment of all AustLit contributors to encompass this important part of Australia's literary culture. Black Words builds on, and extends, this work." This site is full of useful information and well worth posting under your favourites.

David Horton's two volume Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia was published by ASP. Although it's now out of print and, like any printed information, will have dated in sections, it's still worth having the shelf if you can track one down. The Aboriginal Australia Map is also useful. Compiled during the research work for the encyclopaedia, the map continues to be one of ASP's bestselling titles.

Still on maps, though of a more specific nature, the Aboriginal Languages of Central Australia maps produced by IAD Press has been through many editions over the years and is a great resource. I have to admit that I have no idea how recent the current edition is. I think it may also be out of print, but if you can find a copy then I recommend The Jukurrpa Pocket Book of Aboriginal Languages of Central Australia and the Places Where They are Spoken. This small booklet was developed by linguist Robert Hoogenraad and cartographer Brenda Thornley's and published under IAD Press's Jukurrpa Books imprint.

macquarie aboriginal wordsNick Thieberger and Bill McGregor are the joint editors of Macquarie Aboriginal Words: A dictionary of words from Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, published by The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd, Sydney. This link actually takes you to an on-line retail store as Macquarie does not appear to have a web presence for the sale of its own books.

The Australia Council for the Arts produced a five-booklet series on Protocols for Producing Indigenous Australian Arts, first written by Terri Janke and Robbyn Quiggin in 2002. A second edition was produced in 2007; the copy I have is the 'Writing' edition. Useful case studies, with a short section devoted to editing and publishing (pp. 18–20). Robyn Sheahan-Bright pointed me to the OzCo's URL where you can download this publication as a pdf.

The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature, edited by Anita Heiss and Peter Minter, is not so much a resource as a 'further reading'. Still a good read though.

Various dictionaries. What can I say? The publication of Aboriginal language dictionaries is fluid, dynamic and organic. Production is often influenced by the availability of funds, people on the ground with the infrastructre and drive to produce them, and people's understanding of the currently available technologies.

Among the current consistent producers of language materials is the Many Rivers Aboriginal Language Centre, based at Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative, Nambucca Heads, NSW. A few years ago IAD Press was easily the leader in this field, and while it does still have a regular output funding constraints appear to have stemmed its flow somewhat.

The problem with dictionaries is that they tend to be snapshots of a language at a moment in time and so don't always reflect the usage employed by your author. There's also the inevitable problem that the the writer may be from a language or dialect group that you don't have a dictionary for; get your library to search for you.


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