Farewell, Alex François!

Alex documenting Teanu marine fauna with Michael and Stanley on Vanikoro, Solomon Islands in May 2012.

After three and a half years in our department as a Visiting Fellow, Alex François will have to leave us at the end of July, to return to his CNRS position in France. The connections created during these past few years will continue, and hopefully more occa-sions will arise for him to visit Australia and the ANU again in coming years. Or we can visit him at LACITO (Langues et Civilisations à Tradition Orale) – in Paris. It’s not far!

In his latest fieldwork (mid-May), Alex was invited to join a team of geologists for a 10-day sea trip to Vanikoro, an isolated island of the eastern Solomons (read more about their work in a recent article in Der SpiegelThe Mystery of the Sinking South Pacific Islands). It was the occasion for him to catch up with the people he had first met in 2005, and hand them copies of his book of traditional stories in the main language Teanu (Buma). The two other languages of the island, Lovono and Tanema, have now come down to one speaker each – the father and the son! – and were thus given priority during this short trip. In parallel, Alex seized this opportunity to take notes on a number of other languages spoken in the Temotu province (Tikopia, Asubuo, Tanibili, Äiwoo, Natügu…). This province of Temotu is puzzling in its lin-guistic diversity, and certainly hosts some key elements in the history of Oceanic languages.

[This post has been adapted from a note in the latest CAP Linguistics newsletter.]

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