Summary of deposit
Auslan (Australian Sign Language) is the signed language of the deaf community in Australia. It has evolved from forms of British Sign Language (BSL) which were brought to Australia in the 19th century. It is used by approximately 6,500 deaf people as their first or preferred language. The number of deaf users of Auslan appears to have peaked in the 1980s and now seems to be declining due to a variety of factors, such as aging, decreasing incidence rates of permanent early childhood severe and profound deafness, and high rates of cochlear implantation. Consequently, the number of new deaf signers being added to the community on a year by year basis is modest and the language is likely to become endangered within a generation or two. The corpus supports initial and future corpus-based grammatical description of the language and serves as a basis for comparison of this relatively old signed language with the emerging signed languages of newly created deaf communities that can be found in the developing world.
Australian deaf community
Auslan, Australian Sign Language
The recordings were made between mid-2004 and mid-2007 in five cities across Australia (Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth
, Sydney). One hundred native or near-native deaf signers were filmed in pairs (twenty signers or ten pairs in each city). A native signer is here defined as someone who has acquired Auslan from birth from a signing deaf parent or parents or an older deaf sibling, and an early learner/near-native is defined here as someone who acquired or learned Auslan before the age of seven, usually from having attended a residential school for the deaf. Each participant took part in three hours of language-based activity that involved an interview, retelling stories, recalling personal events, responding to a questionnaire, engaging in spontaneous conversation, and responding in Auslan to various stimuli such as a picture-book story, a filmed cartoon, and a filmed story told in Auslan.
An example of a video with time-aligned transcriptions
There are no audio files in this deposit because the language being used here (Auslan) is a signed language. The deposit consists of individual movie files and linked ELAN annotation files when the latter have been created and have been checked. The movie files do have an audio track but the sound is not necessary. The people present at each recording session were all deaf and were unaware of background and environmental noise. If you download any movies from this deposit we suggest you play the movie with the sound switched off because you may find the background noise an irritating distraction.
The Auslan Corpus was deposited at the Endangered Languages Archive in late 2008. From 2008 to the present the depositor and fellow researchers have been glossing, translating and annotating parts of the corpus using ELAN in order to make it machine readable and searchable. Parts of the video deposit are publicly accessible and other parts are accessible to subscribers on application to the depositor. It is expected that glossing, translation and annotation work on the corpus will take many years to complete. Less than half of the video recordings have been given a basic annotation (i.e. glossed and given a free translation). Only those associated with the Aesop's fables (topics: "The boy who cried wolf" and "The hare and the tortoise") have been checked and validated and thus only those .eafs are currently accessible. The deposit will be augmented with additional annotation files as they become available, i.e. after they have been completed and checked. It is anticipated the next addition in accessible files will be made during the second half of 2012.