Language technology expert joins CDU

30-Jun-2017

Professor Steven Bird

Professor Steven Bird joins the Northern Institute


A researcher living at a remote Northern Territory outstation to deepen his cultural understanding and develop new technology to preserve Indigenous languages has joined Charles Darwin University.

Professor Steven Bird is a social and technological researcher with an interest in the evolution of the world's languages and has joined the Northern Institute.  

Professor Bird is currently based at Kabulwarnamyo Outstation, in West Arnhem Land, to learn Kunwinjku language and begin conducting studies into its vitality.

“We need to look at how languages are changing across the NT,” he said.

“New technologies can be used for preserving rock art, and for measuring and learning to speak unwritten Aboriginal languages.”

Through his research he said he hoped to ask the question: “Can we change the survival prospects of the world's small languages by recognising them in creative new ways?”

Professor Bird said he moved to the outstation to immerse himself in the people, country and culture.

He also volunteers to support the bilingual program at its fledgling school, Nawarddeken Academy.

A former Associate Professor in Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne, Professor Bird has developed large-scale methods for preserving and sustaining linguistic diversity, including the award-winning Aikuma App.