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Analysing Words as a Social Enterprise: Celebrating 40 Years of the 1975 Helsinki Declaration on Lexicography

Massey University Albany, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Thursday to Saturday, 19–21 November 2015

Organizer: Dr Mary Salisbury

Report on AustraLex 2015

AustraLex 2015 was hosted by Massey University in Albany, Aotearoa/New Zealand, on 19 and 20 November 2015. The theme was Analysing Words as a Social Enterprise: Celebrating 40 Years of the 1975 Helsinki Declaration on Lexicography, and we were pleased to welcome lexicographers and language experts from many different countries.

Two plenary talks and several sessions were devoted to celebrating significant milestones for New Zealand Māori and minority languages spoken in New Zealand: 175 years since the Treaty of Waitangi (1840-2015), and 28 years since the 1987 Māori Language Act in New Zealand. It was also pleasing to see a full session on Cook Islands languages in the year of the 50th Jubilee of self-government in the Cook Islands.

The conference started with a Māori welcome, followed by a keynote speech on the Treaty of Waitangi by Margaret Kawharu. Other sessions covered:

  • NZ Māori lexicons and revitalisation
  • Historical lexicography
  • Lexical expansion and influence
  • African lexicography
  • Classroom and poetic lexicons
  • Old English dictionaries and databases
  • New Zealand sign language
  • Australian Indigenous lexicography
  • Language in the Cook Islands
  • Lexicography and the community
  • Dictionaries and semantics.

We were also pleased to have a number of stimulating plenary sessions:

  • Associate Professor Andie Diane Palmer, University of Alberta, gave a plenary session entitled Our Treaties Are Signed in Smoke: How Te Tiriti o Waitangi informs our understandings of treaty relationships in Canada.
  • Professor Ghil’ad Zuckermann, The University of Adelaide, spoke on Analysing Words as a Social Enterprise: Lexicography in the service of revivalistics.
  • Verna Stutzman, International Dictionary and Lexicography Services Coordinator, SIL International, presented a plenary talk via Skye: Rapid Words Collection: A collaborative strategy for collecting words using semantic domains for minority languages and online publishing using
  • Dr Ross Clark, University of Auckland, kindly stepped in to give a plenary talk on The Polynesian Lexicon Project Database (POLLEX) and reflections on Polynesian dictionaries and to host a plenary discussion 50 years of lexicography in Auckland with Dr Robin Hooper and Dr Wolfgang Sperlich.

Four delegates had AustraLex bursaries to attend, and made the following comments:

  • Thank you for organizing such a great event. It is the first time I attended Australex conference. I enjoyed it very much. I attended all the Plenary sessions and some of the parallel sessions, such as historical lexicography, lexical expansion and influence, poetic lexicons, classrooms and lexicons, lexicography and the community. All these presentations were interesting and enlightening, from which I knew more about what international lexicographers are doing. And I felt extremely interested in the talks about revitalization and protection of minority languages.
  • Another session that I enjoyed was “Historical Lexicography: The challenges and future of the Australian National Dictionary”. I learnt the process of compiling the second dictionary edition and challenges for lexicographers. Finding ways to bring this project online was one of the challenges. Attending this session was beneficial for me as I may be involved in a dictionary project at my university in the future. This conference also helped me to get to know researchers from different parts of the world. I had an opportunity to share my research interests and to learn from others.
  • One of the things which most interested me was the different ways of handling information from languages with very different features. As I am dealing with a language which is very different from my mother tongue and even from present day English, it is not always easy to classify some of its features for its study, and seeing how other people deal with a wide variety of languages was really enlightening. As a final remark, I would like to highlight the friendly atmosphere during the conference and thank the Society as well as the organizers, the presenters and the attendants for having made it possible. The friendly environment made it easy to make questions and get more information from the presenters about the different topics, as well as to get extra information about the offer of courses in different universities and interesting journals.

The committee is still planning the next conference in 2017, but the venue is likely to be the Cook Islands. We look forward to welcoming you to AustraLex 2017.

The Annual General Meeting was held on the second day of the conference and new office bearers were elected:

President: Dr Julia Miller (University of Adelaide)

Vice-president: Dr Michael Walsh (AITSIS)

Secretary: Dr Mary Salisbury (Massey University)

Treasurer: Dr Amanda Laugesen (Australian National University)

Committee members:

Mr Hemi Dale (University of Auckland)

Dr Lauren Gawne (University of London)

Professor Tania Ka’ai (Auckland University of Technology)

Mr Ena Manuireva (PhD candidate)

Ms Jasmin Morley (PhD candidate, University of Adelaide)

Mr Adam Smith (Macquarie University)

Professor Ghil’ad Zuckermann (University of Adelaide)


Dr Julia Miller

Street Address

Dr Julia Miller
School of Education
The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, 5005


T: 08 8313 4721

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