Aboriginal Languages of Australia - Bayala Database - columns and fields


The main layout in the Bayala Databases is Overview. Each entry is presented through a number of columns, which are actually ‘fields’ in the database, which appear as columns in this layout. They will be described in turn.

















Fig. 4.1 ALLSYD source fields


SOURCE DB (cerise, or dark pink)

The ‘Source DB’ field shows the name of the database being examined. Generally, all records in the database have the same entry here. Thus in the ALLSYD database, every record has ‘ALLSYD’ in this “Source DB’ field. The purpose in having such a field is that it is sometimes necessary to know which database a record comes from. In the ‘compilation’ databases such as COASTAL for example, which is made up of records from NORTH, SOUTH, ALLSYD and elsewhere, this field reveals where the records have been taken from.



SOURCE (pink)

This field contains an abbreviated note identifying the source of the record concerned. Thus it might say ‘Dawes (a)’, or ‘Collins 1’, or Tench’. More detailed source information is found in ‘Source details.


‘Source details’ is another field, and while it appears to be an ALLSYD field and column, it is actually a field belonging to the Carol VOCAB DETAILS database. That database has a ‘source’  field too, and an entry ‘Dawes (a)’ in it; and it has a ‘source details’ field, and it is there that all the information for the Dawes Notebook (a) is stored. It occurs in that database just once, in one single record. But the same information appears in the ALLSYD database nearly 700 times, occurring in every ‘Dawes (a)’ entry. It would be quite easy to put it in 700 times, but it would take up database space. And by having it occur just once in the Carol VOCAB DETAILS database and showing it where needed in ALLSYD, one can be sure that every use of it is identical—this is, with no occasional typing errors, omissions etc.. 

This drawing in of information from elsewhere is an example of the relational character of the databases in action, as first presented in Fig.1 above.



LANG SHORT (dark blue, gold print)

The ‘Lang short’ field shows a short form (abbreviation) of the language name. Instanced that occur in ALLSYD are:

BB: the classical Sydney language.

BB stands for Biyal Biyal meaning ‘no no’. Australian languages are often identified by the word used for ‘no’ in the language concerned, this being the case in Wiradhuri (‘wira’ = ‘no’) and Kamilaroi (‘kamil’ = ‘no’). Sometimes the no-word is repeated, and this is the form used in the case of Biyal Biyal. This invented term was introduced into the databases to distinguish between words from the First Fleet days before there was any (or little) corruption from English or other languages, and other words of the area recorded later on. 



Syd and DG

These additional records have been identified as ‘Syd’ (for ‘Sydney Language’), and sometimes as DG (for Dharug). The Sydney language and Dharug are dialects of one another.



STATUS (pink)

This field is used for record authorship. If the record is from, say, ‘King MS’ (Philip Gidley King’s journal manuscript), then the status column might say ‘King’, or ‘PGK‘ — it does not matter what, so long as all the King MS ‘status’ fields are the same, if they are the original entries. But if the entry has parts, as in:


"Boora-Carremay"                bura garimayi = "Fine Weather"                     cloud xxx  [fine weather]:                     King MS [:401:11] [BB]



sub-entries might be created, for ‘bura’ and ‘garimayi’, and these would be identified as JS in the status column. King’s entries would also be placed in square brackets to further identify the derivative nature of the sub entries:


"[Boora-Carrema]"                 bura =   "[Fine Weather]"                                cloud  :                                                   King MS [:401:11.1] [BB]




The status field (and much more) is not included in summary extracts, such as the one immediately above.




NOTEBOOK (light blue)

The ‘Notebook’ field only occurs in ALLSYD, and it could have been omitted as the notebook is cited in the source field; but it seemed useful to keep it, and so it has stayed. It shows which of Dawes’s two notebooks, (a) or (b), the entry derives from.




PAGE (Paris green)

This field shows the page number on which an entry occurs. If the page has three columns, and the entry comes from column 2, it might be presented as ‘23.2’ for example, indicating column two on page 23. Some source pages are complex, with areas of one kind or another. so ‘35.7’ might mean the 7th ‘area’ (perhaps a column in a table). It is not necessary to be too specific as the column is intended only as a guide to help someone else (any user of the database, whether the originator or other person) find where the entry was taken from.




LINE (acquamarine)

The entry shows the line number on the page, or column on a page, or perhaps line number in a table. Generally it is fairly obvious when the source is consulted and the relevant page found what the line number refers to. It is more helpful to have a line number however imperfect than not, and the use of such numbers helps distinguish entries in the database, and also helps sort them in the original order. Because we are dealing with a computer database, sorting can be done in an instant, whether by page and line, or by part of speech, by category, alphabetically by Australian name, or English translation, by source, by tense, by creation or modification date indeed by anything for which a field has been created and entries are present.