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Email: miromaa@acra.org.au 

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3.3 Community documentation scenarios

- Your Language Journey Workbook -


1 Community documentation scenarios 2

This is where you get the chance to bring the entered text of your language to life. If you have re-discovered your language from within written documents, maybe even from over 100 years ago like us, you could be recording the first attempts of pronouncing that in modern times.

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If your language still has speakers this could also be where you record your Elder or Speaker telling a story, a group conversation or kids performing a song. You could even be documenting by video or audio a community ceremony or celebration. All of this can be documented and housed in Miromaa and is considered important parts of our language and culture in Miromaa.

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You could have a dictionary done by a non-community member that you are wanting to create audio for. Many of us have academic studies done on our languages, some many years ago, that we are using today without the audio. Here is a chance to use Miromaa for community language purposes so the materials are actually usable.

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You can also document and record how to pronounce words or sounds. Get your speakers to work through a dictionary or word list and create audio or video for that.

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You can prepare to create Apps for iPhone and iPad right from Miromaa using the pictures, recordings and knowledge you enter in as part of your documentation. We’ve done this ourselves and helped several communities do the same. You upload and attach the multimedia from your computer to Miromaa, then it gets packaged up and exported out into an App.

Miromaa Best Practice Tips:
When you are documenting language using Audio and Video, Miromaa recommends you:

  • Always record in the highest quality possible
  • Invest in good quality equipment
  • Think long term
  • Consider what this recording may be used for now and in the future
  • Remember this may be the one and only opportunity you have to record this person or event
  • Think of the outputs you may make from this recording (such as Apps, talking dictionaries)


It is important to tell Miromaa where the language evidence came from and properly attribute that source to the time, place and author. We know people who literally have hundreds of their sources uploaded to the Miromaa library.

Remember that rock we spoke about early on, this is where we note the GPS location of the words we are entering. The GPS data in this instance is a person, book, the page within that book, tape, etc.

We started by getting copies of all known sources of Awabakal, digitising them and uploading them to Miromaa. We then created an entry for each piece of language evidence or word and tagged it to the source in which we found it. This for us was books.

Many communities do this as well and use these older sources as references but then now that they are updating spellings and gaining more control of the documentation they are creating their own recordings and attributing that recording to the source, Elder or speaker.

Attributing to source, speaker, place etc is an important part of documentation, acknowledgement and best practice management. Miromaa respects and places a high value on every piece of language evidence in existence.

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Miromaa has tagging functions in the reference section so you can attribute each entry to a word category and part of speech. This helps you group and categorise your entries in your documentation which also helps when organising your entries for exporting and producing resources in your language work.

Miromaa accommodates the Indigenous world view by not forcing our words into generic European labels. We know that in our Australian Aboriginal languages we all have different ways of grouping our nouns or things which is based on our culture, world view and way of life. We organise our lives, languages and sentences very differently to the way the English language does.

Some of us group our things according to their gender, whether they are animate or inanimate, edible, dangerous, or because of their shape and many more. We also know that our ways of saying who did what to whom in a sentence, talking about the past, the location of things, the way we view our families, our kinship system and the relationship with our land is unique.

So in Miromaa in both parts of the reference section you can create your own categories and have as many subcategories as you want!

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If you want to categorise something as women’s business, men’s business, sacred, ceremonial and many others you can do that in the reference section. There is also another place you can do that too that you can lock and control access to. It’s called the controls section.

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Handy Hint: Setting up your Reference Section at the beginning of your documentation is a great idea!


What’s good about the word category function is that we can classify things in our world view.

This function is fully customisable and you can also create subcategories in each. So you can create your own categories for wildlife, elements, seasons, objects and more.

As we know our languages are rich and unique and often have multiple categories and uses so in Miromaa entries can also fit into more than one of these categories.

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We have a default set of 18 categories that linguists made for `Aboriginal Semantic Domains’ but love seeing the way people all over the world have changed these to suit their lives, country, languages and cultures.

When you first install Miromaa to begin your documentation you will have the list below on your computer. One of the first things people do is often set their own list up at the start, sometimes fully in language!

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We do recognise that classifying things by part of speech is necessary and important for many people. However, we believe that this doesn’t need to be so complicated and in technical language we don’t understand.

We’ve again provided a default list of part of speech, including nouns, verbs, adverbs and so on. We’ve deliberately kept these brief so you can customise these further and add subcategories in as much linguistic detail as you want in your documentation.

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We know that in our Australian Aboriginal Languages we have suffixes or endings as part of our grammar. In your database you could create a category called `word endings’ and then list all of the word endings you have as subcategories underneath.

You could set up your pronouns the technical way with labels like first person, second person, inclusive, exclusive etc…..or you could have your own simpler system like `I, you, you two, he/she, we not you, you mob, those two’.

You can choose to use the fancy term like locative or choose to name it your own like `location marker’ or better still, feel free to put these categories totally in language too!

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Remember the key is that it needs to be in language and formats that you understand and will work for YOU and YOUR LANGUAGE!!


We know that there is so much more to each entry than just the word, translation and grammar category.

We don’t treat language as just a scientific study; Miromaa knows and respects that around each word there is so much important knowledge that can’t be lost, so each entry can include that.

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The Extra Information Field is your definition field, it is important because sometimes we just can’t put an exact translation from our languages into European world views; we need more. Have you ever tried to look for an exact English equivalent and found that it narrows the meaning down way too much? The extra information is where you would elaborate on the meaning more. This field is used for the dictionaries and other products you can make too.

The Cultural Knowledge Field is where you can choose to extend this even further. What’s great about Miromaa is that if you do put extra cultural information in there that is not for everyone to see you can control access to all of this information.

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Linguistic Comments – we have so many Indigenous linguists training up now which is great and we also have many community linguists working with us on our documentation who may need room to make scientific notes about the entry so this is one area they could do that. There is also a linguist screen.

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When we move on to making a dictionary which is usually a language to English dictionary it is like we need to have an English dictionary to understand the English translation we have given. A dictionary for the dictionary. This will only ever change when we have a dictionary fully in traditional language.