The beginning of the journey


Right, it’s time to try something new yet again. This year 2013 has been a year of many first for me so far, and I thought I might as well keep that up while I’m at it. So this is blogging. I will write about endangered languages, I will write about remote outback Australia, I will write about Barramundi and crocodiles, and finally, I will write about running. You may know me already or not yet. Either way, I will share a part of my life with you on here.

I am on my way to the Northern Territory of Australia once again to do what I love most in life: Working with indigenous people to document their endangered languages. This is the third time I return to the Daly River to be with and learn from the MalakMalak people of Woolianna. In 2012 I spent an amazing 4 months outback recording narratives and conversation, creating wordlists and grammatical sketches, developing wonderful friendships, going fishing and exploring. I encountered huge saltwater crocodiles, tasty barramundi, fierce sharks, cute wallabies, unwelcome snake and spider visitors on the veranda, graceful eagles, noisy magpie geese, and the greatest cause of concern: wild buffalo. These are the inspiration for this blog and, if things go as planned, might feature regularly in my posts.

You see, wild buffalo are, like so many other creatures of Australia these days, not native to the red soil of the outback. They came from Asia god knows how long ago and have made the marshes, billabongs and plains their home. They like hanging around the scarce roads and houses in search of fresh grass and water especially at dusk and dawn when the heat of the day slowly weans off. And there it is, our common denominator: roads.

After slowly, but consistently, developing a rather fierce liking for running over the last three years, I decided that now is the time to take it to the next level: I am running the Chicago Marathon on October 13th 2013. 26,2 miles of pain and exhaustion, 42,1 km that will keep me wondering ‘WHY?!’ Something to look forward to, surely.

The true challenge, however, I feel, might not be the race itself many months from now. As with so many things in life, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. My life journey has taken me to many continents, incredible places, people and homes. This will be another leg worth remembering and sharing.

I will train for the marathon in the outback for the next five months. I will be running on dirt and bitumen, I will be running in heat, maybe rain, definitely wind. I will be running looking at kangaroos, cockatoos and goannas. I will be running with the sun in my back and the sun in my face. I will be running to the amusement and puzzle of my Aboriginal and white friends.

And I might be running from buffalo.


2 thoughts on “The beginning of the journey

  1. I have Birk, “The Malakmalak Language” sitting on my desk, but I haven’t looked at it much yet. How accurate do you find it to be?

    1. Hall John! Birk’s grammar is, unfortunately not very accurate based on my current knowledge of MalakMalak. He made quite a few assumptions about the verbs, for example, without proving them at all and I now discover them to be actually incorrect. He is highly descriptive in the book to the point where he fails to discuss most of his ‘findings’. Some discourse marking strategies I found are not mentioned at all, yet they appear crucial for syntactic analysis.

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