Newsletter November 2005

Welcome to the November issue of the Newsletter of the Australian Linguistic Society. As usual, in what follows the @ symbol in people's email addresses has been replaced with -at-, and clicking on any link will open that site in a new window.

Tim Curnow

Minutes of the 2005 Annual General Meeting of the Australian Linguistic Society

The President opened the meeting at 6:10pm on Wednesday 28th of September at the city campus of Monash University with the following members present:

Mark Harvey, Jane Simpson, Maya Bradley, Mary Laughren, David Nash, Pam Peters, Michael Clyne, Jim Hlavac, Natalie Stroud, Anna Margetts, Wiem Burung, Harold Koch, Luisa Miceli, David Bradley, Bill Foley, Heather Bowe, Robert Hoogenraad, Ilana Mushin, Randy LaPolla, Simon Musgrave, Nick Thieberger, Carol Priestley, Jeff Siegel, Diana Eades, Jean-Christophe Verstraete, Peter Kipka, Ian Green, Janet Fletcher, Nick Reid, Tim Curnow, Peter Collins, Paul Black, Alice Gaby, Tania Strahan, Rachel Nordlinger, Doug Absalom, Michael Walsh, John Henderson

1. Apologies

Alan Dench, Jo Caffery, Lyn Wales, Nick Evans, Jenny Green.

2. Minutes of the 2004 AGM


3. Matters Arising

Two matters deferred for discussion later in meeting.

4. Reports

4.1 President

The highlight of the year is the establishment of the Michael Clyne Prize to be awarded for the best postgraduate research thesis in the area of immigrant bilingualism and language contact. The President recognised Michael's very generous contribution to establish the prize, which will be jointly administered with ALAA.

4.2 Secretary

Nothing to report.

4.3 Treasurer

[See separate financial report.]

Special recognition of Michael Walsh's service to the Society, having served a number of terms as Secretary and two terms as President.


That Michael Clyne be granted Honorary Life Membership in recognition of his service to the Society and to Linguistics in Australia.
Passed by acclamation.

Michael was invited to give an account of the founding and early history of the Society: The Society was formed in 1966-67, at a time when there were few Linguistics departments in Australia. Linguistics was not a well-recognised discipline then; Phonetics was better known. There had been informal groups and meetings before 1967. A meeting of the Australian Branch of the International Society of Phonetic Sciences was held in 1966, at which the suggestion was put forward that a national linguistic society be established. Some preliminary meetings were held and identified the need for a journal and the value of hosting an International Congress of Linguists in Australia. The ALS was founded in 1967 with a one-day conference at ANU.

4.4 Editors

[Mark Harvey presented the report.] AJL is doing well. The second issue for 2005 is in press, and both issues for 2006 are full. The new editorial board is now in operation.

The editors are looking into an electronic review management system to handle the process more efficiently, especially tracking progress. Such a system might have the potential to also assist with reviewing of conference abstracts.

There is a question of whether AJL should continue to be published in paper form, or moved to electronic publication which would allow greater flexibility in when an issue is published. This is an advantage because the inflow of submissions to AJL is erratic, boom-or-bust. A boom period usually means that contributors can only be offered substantially delayed publication of new submissions, which can lead to the loss of quality papers to the journal.

Policy Guidelines are in preparation. Some key points are:

  • Submissions can be sent to members of the editorial board with specialist expertise for an initial evaluation of suitability. This has the advantage that it does not waste specialist reviewers time.
  • For guest-edited volumes, the journal editors have oversight and right of veto. Reviewing is organised by the journal editors.
  • There are two reviewers for each paper.

Harold Koch asked how a shift to electronic publication would be affected by the current commercial arrangements. Mark replied that it would have to be discussed with Taylor & Francis and others; a lot of other information would have to be gathered too. Michael Walsh encouraged the editors to continue looking into it. Diana Eades reported that the ALAA are looking into using Monash e-Press. Paul Black noted that the costs of electronic publication are generally high; close to print. Rachel Nordlinger suggested that there would have to be a cost advantage to warrant a change. Doug Absalom pointed out that under the current arrangements, AJL effectively costs the Society nothing.

Michael Walsh noted that the five-year term of the current editors expires at the next AGM in 2006. He called for expressions of interest in the editorship.

4.5 Newsletter Editor

Tim Curnow reported that newsletter operations were going well. The website has been moved from La Trobe to Geocities. Access has been OK. The website has also been redesigned: comments are welcome.

4.6 ALS2005 Organisers

Kate Burridge reported that the organisation had gone well. A few abstracts were rejected. The great advantages of the city location had to be balanced against the substantial venue costs. Reminder for the next conference that membership details should be included on the registration form.

Michael Walsh expressed the Society's gratitude to Kate and the other organisers for an excellent conference.

4.7 ALI & ALS2006 Organisers

Nick Reid reported on LinQ2006 'Linguistics in Queensland' on behalf of the organising group: ALI, ALS2006, ALAA2006, PacSLRF2006 and Australex. A LinQ2006 website has been established. ALI is being organised by Language and Cognition research Centre at UNE and has a cognitive focus.

Michael Clyne expressed disappointment that there were no socio-linguistics courses on the ALI program. Nick explained that this shorter version of ALI was more limited in the range of courses that can be offered and that organisers had only been able to take on ALI by giving it a major thematic focus that co-incides with research interests at UNE. He undertook to take comments back to the organising group.

Workshops at ALS2006 were mentioned as another opportunity for different research interests. Mary Laughren raised the possibility of workshops on language change, complex predicates and languages of northern Queensland, which have already been proposed, and invited members to contact her with any further proposals for workshops. She would need to hear from workshop organisers soon. David Nash suggested that workshops could be held after ALI. Australex was also to be added to LinQ2006, which would make a full two-week program.

4.8 CIPL

David Bradley reported that CIPL would welcome a bid from Australia for the 2014 International Congress of Linguists, possibly in Melbourne or Sydney. The application would be a major undertaking and would need to be finalised by 2008. (ICL is held every six years.) Michael Clyne noted that the ALAA would be bidding for AILA, which could be held end-on with ICL. It was noted that organising ICL is one of the objectives of the Society listed in the constitution. It was agreed to continue discussion.

4.9 Pacific Linguistics

David Nash invited members to direct any questions about PacLing to him or Jane Simpson. Jane reported that the grammar series will now indicate data source with published example sentences. Harold Koch mentioned the PL Studies in Language Change series.

5. Guidelines for the Use of Language Analysis

Diane Eades put forward the motion:

That the ALS endorse the 'Guidelines for the Use of Language Analysis in Relations to Questions of National Origin in Refugee Cases' released by the Language and National Origin group in 2004.
Passed without objection.

6. Network of Linguists and Educators Involved in Remote Communities

Robert Hoogenraad put forward a proposal to establish a formal network, between linguists and educators — indigenous and non-indigenous —involved in education programs in remote NT communities on the one hand and relevant professional associations on the other. More detailed information will be published in the newsletter.

7. ABS/DEST Classification of Linguistics

Nick Reid brought members' attention to a significant inconsistency in the DEST classification of Linguistics, and distributed detailed information. In summary, for the funding of teaching, Linguistics is now classified in Funding Cluster 3 'Humanities' rather than with behavioural sciences in cluster 5. This means that Linguistics teaching receives significantly less DEST funding than, for example, Psychology or Anthropology. DEST claims that the clusters are defined by the ABS Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) but the clusters do not actually appear to be consistent with ASCED, and they are also inconsistent with the ARC RFCD classification in which Psychology and Linguistics are in the same division. Nick asked the Society and the Linguistics professoriate to make a case to DEST for re-classification.

Michael Clyne reminded the meeting that until about ten years ago, Linguistics was usually classified with humanities for research purposes and that it took some years of lobbying to have that changed in the RFCD. Re-classification for research purposes was clearly going only half-way. Michael Walsh suggested a letter from the professoriate on behalf of the Society. Randy LaPolla noted that Linguistics is classified with behavioural sciences in the RQF scheme. Ian Green suggested that any approach to DEST would need to demonstrate that the additional costs to DEST would not be overwhelming since Linguistics is a relatively small discipline in Australia.

Randy LaPolla agreed to work with the professoriate and the Executive to produce a letter.

8. Election of Office-bearers

The following were elected by acclamation:

  • President: Rachel Nordlinger
  • Vice-President: Randy LaPolla
  • Vice-President: Nick Reid
  • Post-graduate Representative: Alice Gaby

9. Other Business

9.1 Ethics


The ALS statement of ethics has not been changed in fifteen years, but there have been significant changes in the practice of linguistics in Australia in that time. These changes include: the development of new technological tools for linguists. which allow more detailed recording and dissemination of recorded material; new approaches to our work, broadly known as language documentation, which widens the scope of material recorded and emphasises the importance of long-term storage of the data; and an increase in employment possibilities in contract work and in regional language centres. Contracts can include reference to the ALS statement of ethics as an overarching set of guidelines and the code of ethics of a professional association can provide members with a useful set of principles when entering into contractual arrangements.

All of these changes suggest that it is important for a statement of ethics to be assessed regularly to ensure that it remains relevant and appropriate, and that it is now time for the ALS to reconsider its statement of ethics. Therefore, we propose that an ALS working group be established to reconsider the ethics statement. The mover and seconder are willing to organise this working group.

Moved: Nick Thieberger; Seconded: Simon Musgrave. Passed unanimously.

9.2 Meeting of Heads of University Departments

At Pam Peters' suggestion, a meeting was set for Thursday 29th September. It would discuss the new Research Quality Framework.

The meeting closed at 7:07pm.

John Henderson

Financial report

Australian Linguistic Society Inc
ABN 55 533 808 998
Financial Statement 13/7/2004-25/9/2005

Income. Expenditure.
Membership $8,860:00 Pacific Ling. $5,000:00
AJL $8,724:35 AJL $17,238:50
Interest $8,687:67 ALS 2005 $3,000:00
ALS 2004 $7,730:00 CIPL $295:00
Clyne scholarship           $20,000:00           Auslan $250:00
Royalties $776:19 Logo $50:00
Treasurer $159:67
Bank charges $1,468:70
Total $54,778:21 Total $27,461:87
Surplus $27,316:34
Accumulated funds 12/7/2004   $152,879:88
Surplus 2004/5 $27,316:34
Total funds 25/9/2005 $180,196:22
Represented by:
Fixed Deposit $40,407:93
Money Managers $37,813:54
ALI acct. $22,136:54
Cheque acct. $3,709:76
ANZ invest $56,128:45
Clyne invest $20,000:00
Total $180,196:22
Doug Absalom

Editorship of AJL: Call for expressions of interest

As noted at the AGM, the five-year term of the current editors of AJL expires at the next AGM in 2006. The Executive calls for expressions of interest from ALS members for either individual or joint editorship for the term 2006-2011. Please email Rachel Nordlinger ( by 31st December 2005. Nominations of others will be accepted, but please check that the nominee(s) is/are interested first.

Rachel Nordlinger

Newsletter, and lost members

Does anyone know the whereabouts of members Joseph Blyth or Dr Charles Taylor, whose AJLs have been returned? Any member who did not receive AJL 25/2 in the last week or so should contact me at please.

Doug Absalom

Second European Workshop on Australian Languages

This is a preliminary circular to ascertain interest in a follow up of the Fourth International Workshop on Australian Languages, that was held in the University of Aarhus in 2002.

The proposal is to hold the workshop in the Hungarian village of Somloszolos (located about 100 kms from the Austrian border, and not far from Lake Balaton; a map will be circulated later) in the first half of 2006. One of us (McGregor) has a small vineyard in this village, and aside from talking about Australian Aboriginal linguistics would like to enlist your assistance in depleting his wine stock, which is currently around the 500 liter mark.

Proposed theme: Narrative and grammar. Papers could address issues such as: the ways grammatical categories function in narratives; the structure of narratives as reflected in the use of grammatical categories an markers; the way genres can drive the emergence of new grammatical categories; the internal structure of narratives as reflected in the use of grammatical categories. Papers on any other topic in Aboriginal linguistics would also be acceptable.

Conference venue: the old priest's house in Sómlószólós, which has accommodation for around 10 persons, and a good room for the presentations.

Accommodation: aside from the priests house just mentioned, which has fairly basic accommodation, there are a couple of more up-market options including a motel and hotel within a fairly short walking distance. All accommodation is quite cheap by European standards. Meals will be organized as a part of the conference package.

Suggested activities: days one and two, conference; third day, walking on the mountain (Sómló) and visiting notable sights. This will not be too strenuous. Last night BBQ and wine "sampling" in McGregor's vineyard. There is adequate basic accommodation for those unable to travel following the wine "sampling".

Time: We suggest Easter, either 13-15 April 2006, or 15-17 April 2006. Another alternative, 10-12 April.

We would like to hear from you regarding your preferences on the above three possible dates, and any other suggestions you might have.

Please write to both of us as soon as possible, and no later than 15th November, if you are interested in attending this event. A minimum of 10 positive responses will be required to make the workshop a goer.

Bill McGregor ( & Jean-Christophe Verstraete

Jane Simpson


For those who are interested in comparisons across 40 years or so, here's the statement of receipts and expenditure for the year 1 July 1967 to 30 June 1968 for the Linguistic Society of Australia. It's signed by E. H. Flint, the Hon. Treasurer of the Society at the time. You can compare it with our current financial statement above!

Receipts $ Expenditure $
Annual subscriptions 1967-1968 237.00      Petty cash 15.85
Annual subscriptions 1968-1969 (in advance) 22.47 Postage 4.75
Contributions to CIPL first fee 19.00 Stamp duty on interstate cheques 3.95
Contributions to International Linguistic Bibliography 15.90 ANU, Bruce Hall, supper expenses for 50 persons, Linguistic Conference 22.50
Voluntary contributions of stamp duty on interstate cheques 0.35
Supper collection, Linguistic Conference, 28.5.68 4.96
Bank interest, 1.6.68 4.16 Credit balance, as per bank statement, 30.6.68 256.79
Total 303.84 303.84
Total assets
Credit balance, 30.6.68 256.79
Petty cash in hand, 30.6.68 (Mr B. Jernudd) 8.27
Total 265.06
Tim Curnow

Systemic Functional Linguistics Congress 2005

The organising committee is still recovering from the 32nd International Systemic Functional Linguistics Congress held in the Eastern Avenue Complex July 17-22. This was the fifth ISFC held in Australia, beginning in 1987 at the University of Sydney.

The theme of the congress was 'Discourses of Hope: peace, reconciliation, learning and change', inspired by the work of Ghassan Hage, who gave the opening plenary. Program details are still available on line at

The congress enjoyed 225 presentations, and welcomed 348 delegates (including 105 participants attending the special Language in Education Day on Wednesday). Over 30 countries were represented - including Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Austria, China, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Yemen, USA, Canada, Columbia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, and Australia.

The next congress, ISFC33, will be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in July 2006.

Jim Martin

News from the University of Sydney


The Department announces two retirements, John Gibbons and Michael Walsh. John Gibbons will be affiliated with the Modern Language Studies Department at the University of New South Wales. Michael Walsh will continue working with the NSW Aboriginal Languages Centre, and will maintain his affiliation with the Department. On behalf of students and staff, past and present, we thank them both for all the work they have done, and wish them the very best.

Recent theses

Joanne Lee Page, "An Investigation into the Signed Varieties of Deaf Late Learners of Australian Sign Language (Auslan)", Supervisors: Debra Aarons and Michael Walsh

Shouhui Zhao, "Simplification and Standardization - The History and Future of Chinese Script Modernization", Supervisor: Michael Walsh. For abstract, see below.

Myfany Myra Turpin, "Form and Meaning of Akwelye: A Kaytetye Women's Song Series from Central Australia", Supervisors: Linda Barwick and Jane Simpson. For abstract, see below.

Jane Simpson

Open letter

Monday 19th September 2005

An open letter on behalf of Linguists and Educators, non-Indigenous and Indigenous, involved in Indigenous education in the Northern Territory

Professional Linguistic Associations:

  • Australian Linguistic Society (ALS), President: Michael Walsh
  • Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA), President: Howard Nicholas
  • AustraLex, President: Pam Peters
Professional Education Assocations:
  • Australian Council of TESOL Associations (ACTA), President: Andrea Harms
  • Australian Literacy Educators' Association (ALEA), President: Jan Turnbill
  • Primary English Teaching Association (PETA)
  • Australian Association of Teachers of English (AATE)

Australian Indigenous Languages Organisations:

  • Federation of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Languages Corp. (FATSIL)
  • Diwurruwurru-jaru (Katherine Region Aboriginal Lanuages Centre)
  • Papulu Apparr-kari (Barkly Region Aboriginal Languages Centre)
  • Institute for Aboriginal Development (IAD), Language & Culture Centre
  • Wadeye Aboriginal Language Centre
  • Li Kurluluwa (Borroloola Language Centre)

We the undersigned write as linguists and educators, on behalf of Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators and linguists involved in the delivery of education to students who speak as their first language a traditional Indigenous Australian language or Kriol or one of the other creoles that are now widely spoken in northern Australia, and who are mainly resident in small remote communities and outstations in northern Australia.

We work in an area of many small languages, a small and remote population, where formal western education is fairly recent and literacy is new and levels are low. It is essential in this context that formal education – especially the teaching of English as a second language and the teaching of literacy – is founded in the child's experiences, including a strong first language and a tradition of formal story telling.

Our main concerns are with

  • the teaching of English as a second language by building on the child's first language
  • the teaching of literacy, using the child's first language as the language of instruction, which implies:
    • the engagement of local indigenous adults as para-professional and professional educators
    • supporting the delivery of first language maintenance and revival programs, and where possible
    • the delivery of full bi-lingual and bi-cultural education programs

This task is a very large one, and the number of experienced professionals is small. So we would like to explore avenues for establishing a dialogue through a formal network, between linguists and educators — indigenous and non-indigenous —involved in education programs in remote NT communities on the one hand and relevant professional associations on the other. Some possible areas such a network might be interested in considering is:

  • a monitoring and advocacy role for Indigenous language education programs
  • a forum – say a web site – where professional linguists and educators could post activities such as research that may be of interest to us, and where we could post areas and issues in need of research and development
  • a clearing house – maybe the same web site – for information on developments in bilingual theory, literacy and ESL teaching theory and practice, etc
  • the development of collaborative research projects with linguists and educators in universities
  • opportunities for Indigenous professionals and para-professionals to meet with each other and with other professionals – such as the ATSI program at the bi-annual Linguistics Institutes organised by ALS & ALAA: these and similar events were very popular and very useful
  • the development of solid and simple information, informed by the most current research applicable to these contexts, that demystifies bilingual education, vernacular literacy, Australian languages and other areas where there are strongly held beliefs based on erroneous information – perhaps along the lines of the pamphlets on multilingualism, second language acquisition and linguistic diversity developed by RUMACCC (the Research Unit for Multilingualism & Cross Cultural Communication) at Melbourne University
  • opportunities for both indigenous and non-Indigenous professionals working in education programs in northern Australia to pursue further professional training specifically targeted at these practitioners
  • involvement of University staff in the professional training of Indigenous educators and linguists in northern Australia (eg through BIITE)

We would like to be able to begin this dialogue by being able to speak at your next AGM or other similar forum. We would like to discuss this with you in advance, so we can jointly develop a presentation.

We look forward to your response.

Robert Hoogenraad, Linguist, NT DEET, Central Australia
Melanie Wilkinson, Linguist, NT DEET, East Arnhemland
Rebecca Green, Linguist, NT DEET, Katherine Region
Fran Murray, Coordinator Curriculum and Indigenous Education Program, Catholic Education Office
Paul Bubb, Manager Two-Way Education Program, Schools Division, NT DEET

Address for correspondence on this matter:
Robert Hoogenraad, Language Resource Officer, Central Australia, Two Way Learning Program, Schools Division
PO Box 1420 Alice Springs NT 0871
Telephone: (08) 895 17030
Facsimile: (08) 8519 17059

Note: we have begun the process of discussing this proposal with a wider range of Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff working in or with remote Aboriginal schools in the NT.

Batchelor Institute for Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE)
Centre for Australian Languages & Linguistics (CALL), at BIITE
Bilingual Immersion Group, Contact: Robyn Moloney
Research Unit for Multilingualism & Cross Cultural Communication (RUMACCC)

Robert Hoogenraad

News from the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology

Bloomfield Prize for Dixon

The Linguistic Society of America has selected R.M.W. Dixon's 659-page grammar The Jarawara Language of Southern Amazonia as winner of the Leonard Bloomfield Award for the best book published across all areas of linguistics worldwide during the two-year period March 2003 - February 2005.

Visiting Fellows

Professor Peter Trudgill will be awarded the Degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) in a formal ceremony to be held at the John Scott Meeting House at La Trobe University on 9 November, and will then present a Public Lecture on the topic 'Koinés and creoloids: on the world-wide loss of linguistic complexity'. He will be at RCLT as Visiting Fellow throughout November, presenting lectures and interacting with colleagues.

Professor Carol Genetti (University of California at Santa Barbara), an expert on Tibeto-Burman languages and linguistic typology, will be visiting RCLT in December 2005-January 2006.

Professor Gerrit Dimmendaal (University of Leiden), an expert on Nilo-Saharan, Cushitic and Omotic languages and linguistic typology, will be a Visiting Fellow of Institute for Advanced Study based at RCLT from 28 December 2005 until 31 March 2006.


Stefan Dienst, a PhD scholar at RCLT, has just returned from a two-month field work trip to Brazil, finalizing his grammar of Kulina.

Sheena van der Mark, a PhD scholar at RCLT, is currently undertaking a three-month fieldwork on Vinitiri, an Oceanic language of East New Britain.

Seino van Breugel, a PhD scholar at RCLT, is currently undertaking a nine-month fieldwork on Atong in north-eastern India.

Rik de Busser, a PhD scholar at RCLT, is currently undertaking a nine-month fieldwork on Bunun in Taiwan.

Dr Gerd Jendraschek, a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at RCLT, is currently undertaking a nine-month fieldwork on Iatmul (Gepma Kundi) in East Sepik, Papua New Guinea.

Dr Stephen Morey, an ELDP Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at RCLT, is currently undertaking a three-month fieldwork on Turung in Assam, north-eastern India.

Dr Rosemary Beam de Ascona, a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at RCLT, is currently undertaking a nine-month fieldwork on Zapotec languages in Mexico.

Dr Oliver Iggesen, a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at RCLT, is currently undertaking a nine-month fieldwork on Chacobo and Pacahuara, the two Panoan languages in Bolivia.

Siew-Peng Condon


The Korean language

Jae Jung Song. September 2005. The Korean language: Structure, use and context. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN: 0-415-32802-0.

Suitable for students of all levels, this book provides a general description of the Korean language by highlighting important structural aspects whilst keeping technical details to a minimum. By examining the Korean language in its geographical, historical, social and cultural context the reader is able to gain a good understanding of its speakers and the environment in which it is used. The book covers a range of topics on Korean including its genetic affiliation, historical development, sound patterns, writing systems, vocabulary, grammar and discourse. The text is designed to be accessible primarily to English-speaking learners of Korean and scholars working in disciplines other than linguistics, as well as serving as a useful introduction for general linguists. The book complements Korean language textbooks used in the classroom and will be welcomed not only by readers with a wider interest in Korean studies, but also by Asian specialists in general.

Jae Jung Song

Form and meaning of Akwelye

Myfany Myra Turpin. "Form and Meaning of Akwelye: A Kaytetye Women's Song Series from Central Australia". PhD thesis, University of Sydney. Supervisors: Linda Barwick and Jane Simpson.

Song series are part of religious ceremonies fundamental to traditional Central Australian Aboriginal societies, yet at the same time they are renowned for being difficult to interpret. This study, based on fieldwork and previously recorded material, analyses nine performances of a Kaytetye women's rain (Akwelye) song series from Central Australia, identifying the source of the complexities.

Taking a cross-disciplinary approach, a song is identified as consisting of various linguistic and non-linguistic components, including social ownership, melody, rhythm, painting up and interpretation. It is argued that the meanings of songs available to a performer are based on interpretations of the complex interaction of these components as well as on knowledge of the environment, cultural practices and mythology.

Following Ellis and Barwick's (1987) theoretical approach, it is shown how the setting of the rhythmic text to melody conforms to various structural principles that interact, creating a diversity of forms.

Drawing upon the theory of metricality outlined in Fabb (1997), it is shown that the rhythmic text has a complex metrical structure with word placement and sound patterning rules. It is argued that some of these rules are applied in the creation of the song text while other rules are applied during the moment of performance. The thesis reveals how the metrical structure plays a major role in creating textual opacity, a characteristic feature of Aboriginal song texts. Understanding the metrical structure thus enables meaningful segments (song forms) of the song text to be distinguished from segments that serve purely a musical/metrical function. In addressing the issue of how songs convey meaning, song forms are distinguished from singer's formulaic explications of the songs (expansions), which are argued to be a component of Akwelye performances. It is shown that there can be multiple differing meanings of both song forms and expansions.

While the lexical content of songs is most often interpreted literally, there is a large semantic gap between the meanings of song forms and the meanings of expansions, with the latter including additional information.

A pragmatic analysis is applied to the issue, showing how singers infer additional meanings based on premises relating to knowledge of country, cultural practices, mythology and past interpretations which can lead to multiple exegeses of the song text.

Jane Simpson

Simplification and standardization

Shouhui Zhao. "Simplification and Standardization - The History and Future of Chinese Script Modernization". PhD thesis, University of Sydney. Supervisor: Michael Walsh.

After a century of efforts of modernizing the Chinese script, character processing, the major building block for the Chinese information industry in terms of its efficiency of computer input and online intelligibility, still poses as a bottleneck in China's embarkation on the road to modernization in a rapidly changing digital society. Given that today the increasingly widespread use of personal computers and international communications networks are having a significant impact on modern Chinese society, Chinese language planning is facing two major challenges in a new historical context. While continuing to make the new technology more accessible and efficient, LP has to create a more computer friendly ideographic writing system in order to help it survive the information age.

A comprehensive sociolinguistic macro-analysis of the script reform should be of some help in understanding the process involved in simplifying and modernizing the Chinese script. This study traces the genesis of Chinese script reform in different historical periods starting from the earliest attempt at the beginning of 20th century, the 1935 reform, reforms from 1956 to 1978 and after 1986 and the latest developments in the 1990s and beyond. It provides a critical examination of the formation, promulgation or abandonment of each major reform program in relation to Chinese character simplification and standardization from a historical perspective. Consideration is given to detailed descriptions of the multi-dimensional sociopolitical context in which script reform activities took place.

This study also attempts to shed light on the reasons that have led to failures in previous instances of script reform and the possible measures to reduce the risks in carrying out future reform in relation to the Chinese context. The influences of non-linguistic factors in Chinese script reform, predominantly political factors, have been strong and the magnitude of these factors and the way they have influenced script reform varies in each historical period. Based on the analytic study of historical data and empirical findings, the paper tries to analyze the real situation of character use in contemporary China, and the governmental role in computer-oriented standardization programs that are currently undertaken at policy level by focusing on the cultural consequences of the technological advance as the result of the computerization of modern society. In addition, the practical problems that China has confronted are also examined from the perspective of an international comparison, with particular focus on those polities that share common characteristics with China.

The outcome of this study is a construction of a theoretical framework for future reform. It suggests six future reforming directions for the decade ahead, against the context of seven external influential factors. They include the achievement of linguistic research and language planning work, the technological advance and economic development, the demographic picture, the political climate across the Taiwan Strait, the socio-cultural tendency, the domestic and international political environment. Four qualitative research instruments, including the key informant interviews and an online survey were applied in this study.

Jane Simpson

Upcoming Conferences


Brisbane, July 2006

Don't forget the various components of next year's massive linguistic event, LinQ2006: Linguistics in Queensland 2006. There's

  • ALS 2006: The 2006 Annual Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society
  • ALI 2006: The Australian Linguistics Institute
  • ALAA 2006: The 2006 Annual Conference of the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia
  • PacSLRF 2006: The 5th Pacific Second Language Research Forum
  • AustraLex 2006

Those who are planning to come, you will need to organize your own accomodation for the events you'll be attending. For information on accomodation, and everything else to do with the conferences and institutes, visit the combined LinQ2006 website at

Mary Laughren

Blackwood by the Beach

University of Sydney, Pearl Beach, 17-19 March 2006

Call for papers and expressions of interest for
Blackwood by the Beach: Workshop on Australian Aboriginal Languages
17-19 March 2006
University of Sydney, Pearl Beach, NSW.

The fifth annual Workshop on Australian Aboriginal languages will be held again at Pearl Beach, just 60 kms north of Sydney, from Friday March 17th to Sunday March 19th, 2006. "Blackwood by the Beach" will be hosted by the Linguistics department at the University of Sydney, and held at the Crommelin Field Station in Pearl Beach ( As in previous years, we may hold the first session in the Linguistics department at Sydney University on Friday (for those who can't come away for the weekend) and will then head to Pearl Beach on Friday evening for more sessions on Saturday and Sunday.

Costs will be low, essentially limited to a food kitty (around
$25-30) and a small accommodation fee of $15 per person, per night (or you may organise your own). We will arrange a car pool to get participants to Pearl Beach from Sydney University, if required.

At this stage we are calling for expressions of interest for individual papers for general sessions on any issue in Australian Aboriginal languages. We currently have no proposed thematic sessions, but are open to proposals for these also.

Titles for proposed papers and/or thematic sessions should be emailed to Rachel Nordlinger ( as soon as possible, or by February 1st, 2006 at the latest. Please note that we operate on a first in-first served basis, and have only a limited number of spaces available. So don't leave it too late!

Non-presenters are also welcome to attend, if space permits, but it is important that you register your intention with Rachel Nordlinger
( for catering purposes.

It would also be helpful if all potential participants could indicate whether they intend coming for the whole weekend or just for the Friday session in Sydney on March 17th (if it is to be held).

Practical information (and the program, when it is available) can be accessed at

Hope to see you all there!

Rachel Nordlinger

CRLC Workshop 2006

Brisbane, 9 July 2006

Call for papers

The Centre for Research on Language Change (CRLC) in association with Manchester University will be holding a workshop at the ALS conference in July 2006.

The workshop will take place on Sunday 9th July at the University of Queensland.

The theme of the workshop will be Grammatical change: theory and description. We welcome submissions dealing with any of the following:

  • data-based studies of grammatical change in particular languages
  • theoretical aspects of change
  • contact-induced change
  • language-internal change
  • reconstruction of changes

Submissions should include the author's name and affiliation, contact details (including email and postal addresses), the paper's title, and an abstract of no more than 400 words. The final deadline for submissions is 28 February 2006. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 31 March 2006. Please note that the format of the sessions will be 20 minutes for each paper, followed by 10 minutes for questions.

Submissions should be sent electronically to the workshop organisers, Rachel Hendery and Jennifer Hendriks. Please use the email address

Selected papers will be published with Pacific Linguistics as part of the CRLC's publication series, Studies in Language Change.

Please bookmark as further information will be posted on this site as it becomes available.

ESSLLI 2006 Student Session

Malaga, Spain, 31 July-11 August 2006

First call for papers; submission deadline: 1 February 2006

We are pleased to announce the Student Session of the 18th European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information (ESSLLI), which will be held July 31 – August 11, in Malaga, Spain. We invite papers for oral and poster presentation from the areas of Logic, Language and Computation.

The aim of the Student Session is to provide students with the opportunity to present their work in progress and get feedback from senior researchers and fellow-students.

The ESSLLI Student Session invites students at any level, undergraduates as well as graduates, to submit a full paper, no longer than 7 pages (including references). Papers should be submitted with clear indication of the selected modality of presentation, i.e. oral or poster. Accepted papers will be published in the Student Session Proceedings.

Papers should describe original, unpublished work, complete or in progress, that demonstrates insight, creativity and promise. Previously published papers should not be submitted.

The preferred format of submission is PDF. All submissions must be accompanied by a plain text identification page, and sent to

Deadline for submission: February 1st, 2006.

For more information about the Student Session, and for the technical details concerning submission, please visit our website at You may also contact one of the chairs: Janneke Huitink ( or Sophia Katrenko (

Important dates:

  • Deadline for submission: February 1st, 2006
  • Notification of authors: April 1st, 2006
  • Proceedings deadline: May 1st, 2006
  • ESSLLI: July 31 – August 11, 2006

The Linguistics of Endangered Languages (Third Oxford-Kobe Linguistics Seminar)

Kobe, Japan, 2-5 April 2006


The Third Oxford–Kobe Linguistics Seminar, on 'The Linguistics of Endangered Languages', is being organized at the St. Catherine's College (University of Oxford) Kobe Institute, in Kobe, Japan, by Peter Austin (SOAS, University of London), Masayoshi Shibatani (Rice University & Kobe University), and John Charles Smith (University of Oxford), between 2 and 5 April 2006.

The goal of the seminar is to elaborate on the point (often made, but less frequently demonstrated) that the loss of endangered languages means the loss of unique and unusual linguistic features that we would otherwise have no knowledge of, and that the extinction of languages inevitably results in a poorer linguistics and a poorer language and cultural heritage for the world as a whole. The Seminar aims to bring together leading authorities in the field and invites them to summarize their position in 'state of the art' papers, while simultaneously promoting collaboration and scholarly exchange between academic colleagues from Japan and other countries in a relaxed and convivial environment. We invite everyone with an interest in linguistic typology and endangered languages to join us on this occasion. A special welcome is extended to younger scholars and graduate students.

Seminar timetable

The Seminar will begin in the late afternoon/early evening on Sunday, 2 April 2006, with Registration and a Welcome Reception. The three days from Monday, 3 April to Wednesday 5 April, inclusive, will be devoted to papers and discussion. It is suggested that participants should arrive during the morning or early afternoon of Sunday, 2 April, and leave on Thursday, 6 April. All papers will be invited plenary lectures and will last 50-55 minutes. The language of the Seminar will be English.

Seminar programme

The following scholars have agreed to give papers at the Seminar:

  • Peter Austin, SOAS, University of London, UK
  • Peri Bhaskararao, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Japan
  • Claire Bowern, Rice University, USA
  • Shuanfan Huang, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
  • Ritsuko Kikusawa, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan
  • Friederike Luepke, SOAS, University of London, UK
  • Martin Maiden, University of Oxford, UK
  • Elena Maslova, Stanford University, USA
  • Denny Moore, Museu Goeldi, Belem, Brazil
  • Osami Okuda, Sapporo Gakuin University, Japan
  • Keren Rice, University of Toronto, Canada
  • Malcolm Ross, Australian National University, Australia
  • Masayoshi Shibatani, Rice University, USA / Kobe University, Japan
  • Graham Thurgood, California State University, Chico, USA
  • Tasaku Tsunoda, University of Tokyo, Japan
  • Roberto Zavala, CIESAS-Sureste, Mexico

A detailed programme, including titles and abstracts of papers, will be available later.

Participation - Papers and poster session

The working language of the Seminar will be English. All papers will be plenary, and will be followed by discussion. As before, we hope to publish a volume of proceedings.

Although the papers at the Seminar will be by invitation only, a period will be set aside for poster presentations. This session is intended primarily as an opportunity for younger scholars, including graduate students, to present their work. We welcome proposals for poster presentations, abstracts of which (not exceeding 250 words) should be emailed (preferably as BOTH .pdf AND .rtf attachments; .doc format should be avoided) to ALL THREE organizers at the following addresses by 15 January 2006:

  • Peter Austin:
  • Masayoshi Sibatani:
  • John Charles Smith:

Any queries about the organization and content of the Seminar should also be emailed to the same addresses.


There will be a registration fee of JPY10,000 (approx. GBP50, EUR75, or USD90) for participants other than organizers and invited speakers. Coffee and tea, buffet lunches, and drinks before dinner will be provided at the Institute, and are included in the registration fee. Dinner after the Welcome Reception and a Conference Dinner (both buffet style) are available to general participants, students, and poster presenters at JPY3,000 (approx. GBP15, EUR22, or USD27) per meal, subject to advance reservation. Drinks will be provided in the SCR Bar after each dinner, and are included in this charge. Meals for vegetarians will be prepared on request.

To register for the Seminar, and/or to obtain more information about the Seminar and the Kobe Institute, please contact the Chief Bursar of the Kobe Institute, Dr Kaizaburo Saito, as follows:
postal address: St. Catherine's College (University of Oxford) Kobe Institute, 53-1 Maruyama, Gomo-Aza, Nada-ku, Kobe 657-0801 Japan
telephone: +81-78-881-2277 fax: +81-78-881-2552


A downloadable registration form will be available shortly.

The deadline for registration will be 3 March 2006.

Peter Austin

ConCom05: Conceptualising Communication

University of New England, Armidale, NSW, 8-9 December 2005

ConCom05: "Conceptualising Communication": Building Cross-disciplinary Understanding in Human Communication Science

Program now available on the website,

Increasingly, it is cross-disciplinary research which is innovative, productive - and funded. This is also true across the diverse disciplines that address human communication. However, these different disciplines obviously entertain different notions of communication, and of human communication in particular. This workshop aims to bring our differing notions of human communication out into the open, to examine their impact on patterns of research and theory-building, and to ask, are we ready for a new conceptualisation of communication that is oriented to cross-disciplinary research?

Keynote Speakers:

  • Professor Catherine Best, MARCS Auditory Laboratories
  • Professor Michael Corballis, University of Auckland
  • Professor Roger Dean, University of Canberra
  • Professor Peter Eklund, University of Wollongong

Co-sponsored by: ARC Network in Human Communication Science (HCSNet) and UNE's Language and Cognition Research Centre

Helen Fraser

About ALS

The Australian Linguistic Society is the national organization for linguists and linguistics in Australia. Its primary goal is to further interest in and support for linguistics research and teaching in Australia. Further information about the Society is available by clicking here.

The ALS Newsletter is issued four times per year, in the middle of February, May, August and November. Copy for the Newsletter should be sent to the Editor, Tim Curnow ( by the end of the first week of February, May, August and November. There is a list of people who are automatically advised that it's time to contribute material; if you wish to be added to that list, send Tim an email.

Unless you paid for several years at a time, or have given the Treasurer your credit card details and permission to use it, subscriptions for ALS are due at the beginning of each calendar year; the year you are paid up to is shown on the address label on the envelope your copy of the Australian Journal of Linguistics comes in. A subscription form is available by clicking here.

The only membership list is maintained by the Treasurer, Doug Absalom ( If you wish to check your membership status, change your address or make some other enquiry, please contact Doug.