Paper and Talk: the Australian Breath of Life Pilot

Project status: 

The 2019 Paper & Talk project is run by AIATSIS and the Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity (RNLD), and is based on the US Breath of Life Institute. Both of these programs, although on opposite sides of the world, have connected the custodians of Indigenous languages with materials held in national archives about those languages, while training them in linguistic analysis and other skills needed to interpret, use and apply the materials they find. 

The project brings together Indigenous Community Researchers (CRs) from five language groups with few to no speakers, for a two-week workshop at AIATSIS, in September 2019. The CRs will be paired with Linguistic Partners (LPs), suitably experienced linguists who will each support one group throughout their fortnight of learning and discovery.  

Paper & Talk participants will learn practical skills in linguistics and exploring archives, so they can develop language resources to assist in strengthening or revitalising their languages. The CRs will leave the workshop with new materials and information about their languages, new linguistic and research skills to share with their communities, and ideas for language projects.


  • Thieberger, N, Paper and Talk: a manual for reconstituting materials in Australian Indigenous languages from historical sources, Aboriginal Studies Press: Canberra.
Last reviewed: 30 Aug 2019