Here is a picture of some of UNE campus, which is quite nice..
In some strange way I want to feel always plugged in to uni at the moment, since I am riding to and from uni it frustrates me some how to not have contact with the library internet all my books and various readings that I have lying around. Sometimes I wake up and really want to write and read and work, but I couldnt be bothered riding all the way to uni to do it. It is the first time I have really felt that there would be advantages of living on campus. I think the other problem is the two hills that divide my house form the uni. But I am here now happily, on a Sunday , enjoying it even more because I don't feel that I have to do work-
just that I could at any time if I want to. Whenever I am at uni I feel like this is a great place to live and such a fantastic life, but then when I get home and look around at things and find myself trying to think of things to do... In some ways i just want to plunge my head into all this information from the library and it soak into my brain by osmosis- but I think like most people, I find the most interesting thing is talking to people about ideas and having some dynamic interaction. I have spent the last few days doing some research assistant work editing a dictionary or a language from Wadeye ( Port Keats) in the NT of Australia, called Ngan'gi. I am up to 'ng' ( which is a single letter) and I am really enjoying it! It is great to look through a dictionary of such a different language and see how different languages 'parse their conceptual reality' into words. Things like 'giving birth' are translated as lit. 'fall to the ground', and verbs that mean to have 'loose droopy lips' as well as common idioms and insults, some of which ( despite being in Language) are the same as English, for example being a'tight arse', means an 'ungenerous person' etc.
It is also satisfying work because it is easy to feel like you are ploughing through it and 'fixing it'. Other than that I spend mosy of my time reading about things like 'Conversational styles and intercultural communication' there is not all that much stuff around to read about it, usually a researcher who has another area of expertise gets so sick of the same problems cropping up while doing fieldwork or other research they end up writing something about it. But it is a fairly hazy area on its own, probably best called 'anthropological linguistics' or 'linguistic anthropology'. I think researchers in general find it a bit scary to research something ( on scientific grounds) so 'human' and retreat to the safer ground of something more empirical and 'objective'. But I suppose the point is that anything that anybody thinks about is going come served with various assumptions, and once you identify those assumptions you can study ( say) whatever you like!
I suppose science kind of makes things such that you have to set up a situation whereby someone else could come to the same conclusions as you if they did roughly the same thing. Which in turn suggests that everything you write about is the result of culmination of many of your lifes experiences and that you have to work hard to identify your own prejudices and assumptions so that what you are researching becomes transparent and reproducible.
It is hard not to think of your own cultural world as 'unmarked' or normal or the default, or at least to have some idea that there is a 'normal' way of living and then make comparisons to this 'normal' way of living and thinking and speaking without identifying all the aspects that make up that 'normal' way of being. The danger of not identifying this is when people start to classify other langauge and cultural practices as 'wrong' or 'better' or 'worse'. any kind of value judgement a person makes exposes that a person hasnt yet realised that their own language and culture are specifically tailored into a cultural worldview that is relevant only to their cultural world, so it is not a good basis for intepreting or really even investigating another culture (and certainly not for making value judgements of it). So the only way to research the speech practices of another cultural group is first to identify your own and then talk about them both as existing on maybe different places on a spectrum of human communication. So you dont end up with a one language being 'normal' and the other 'exotic'...anyone with any interesting stories of references for me please let me know, I am in an absorbing stage!