Newsletter February 2009

Welcome to the latest Newsletter of the Australian Linguistic Society. As usual, 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

ALS membership fees

It's that time of year again when membership fees are due. Fees this year are $60 for full membership, $30 for student membership and $70 for joint membership. A discount of $10 is available on all fees if paid before 1st April.

All members would have received AJL 29/1 in the past couple of weeks and will have noted the year number following your name. This is the year that you are financial to and, if you are in arrears, there would have been a red circle around this date. Please contact the membership secretary, Doug Absalom, in order to find out how you can catch up.

Members who are on the automatic list (and this is almost a third of our membership now) will receive an email soon asking you to update your details if your card has passed its expiry date. Fees will be deducted next month at the discounted rate for members on this list.

All fees should be sent to:
Doug Absalom
32 Murray Rd
Cardiff, NSW, 2285.
Payment can be made by cheque or credit card (Visa or Mastercard only), using the membership form on the website.

Doug Absalom

Macquarie University news

Linguistics at Macquarie University have a web-based newsletter, LINGLINE, which contains the latest news and events at Linguistics@Macquarie. Please go to

Verna Rieschild

News from RCLT, La Trobe

ALS 2009

RCLT and the Linguistics Program of La Trobe University are proud to be co-hosting ALS-2009. The conference will be from Monday 6th July - Wednesday 8th July. Please see Call for Papers (above) for more information.

Local workshop

The Local Workshop series on 'Transitivity' continues. Workshops are held on Thursdays, 3.30pm - 5pm in the RCLT Reading Room unless otherwise specified. If anyone is interested in presenting a talk as part of this Workshop, please contact Simon Overall ( Handouts from these talks are available for download from

Language workshops

The Research Centre for Linguistic Typology is pleased to announce the RCLT Language Workshops. These will be one-day workshops on one language each time. Every workshop will cover the sociolinguistic situation (speakers, regional and diachronic variation, multilingualism and language contact, etc.), the typological profile (outstanding features in the phonology, morphology, syntax, etc.), and basic conversational practice (what to say when meeting someone for the first time). Every workshop will last one day from 10am to 4:30pm. The workshops will take place roughly every fourth Friday starting 13 February with "Basque", presented by Dr Gerd Jendraschek. Please see for more details and a full list of the Workshops planned.

Austronesian languages in the Bismarck Islands (ALIBI)

We are also pleased to announce the formation of ALIBI - a small, special interest group for those working on languages of the Bismarck Archipelago (New Britain and New Ireland) in Papua New Guinea. All of the members are doing work on a language from the Meso-Melanesian Cluster. We will be meeting fortnightly on Monday afternoons at 2:00 pm in the RCLT Reading Room, starting 9th February. Meetings will generally consist of short, informal presentations by each participant on an agreed upon topic, followed by snacks and a general discussion about what we are currently working on. Anyone interested in attending is welcome. For further information, or to inquire about our scheduled topics, please email Sheena at

Linguistics classics reading group

This newly formed reading group is open to all RCLT members and meets every fortnight starting 6 February to discuss assigned readings from the linguistics literature.

Visiting Fellows

Professor Masayoshi Shibatani, Chair of Department of Linguistics at Rice University (USA), is a Visiting Fellow at RCLT from September 2008 - February 2009. He is here as a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study. While at La Trobe, Prof Shibatani will be working on two intertwined projects. He will continue working on Austronesian voice systems which include passive and focus systems in the perspective of eastern Indonesian languages. He will also be working on the comparison of the patterns of attrition of the Austronesian focus system in three large language groups, all belonging to the Austronesian family, namely Indonesian languages, Philippine languages and Formosan languages.

Professor Willem J. de Reuse, from University of North Texas, Denton, will be a Visiting Fellow at RCLT from April 2009 - October 2009. He will be working on completing a scientific reference grammar of Western Apache. It is planned to be a manuscript in the 600-800 page range.

Dr Roberto Zavala, from Centro de Investigación y Estudios Superiores en Antroplogía Social, Unidad Sureste, will be a Visiting Fellow at RCLT from September 2009 - March 2010. He will be working on grammatical changes that took place in Cholan (Mayan) due to language contact with Zoquean (Mixe-Zoquean). He also plans to write a paper on Complementation in Olutec and Zoque (both of them Mixe-Zoquean languages).

Dr Pilar Valenzuela, from Chapman University, Orange County, California, will be a Visiting Fellow at RCLT from June 2009 - July 2009. She will be organizing a panel on South American languages for the ALS conference.

Research activities

Dr Mark Post, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, is undertaking fieldwork on the Eastern Tani Languages of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, North East India, January - March 2009.

Dr Simon Overall, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, has returned from fieldwork on Aguaruna and Huambisa languages in Peru from August 2008 - November 2008.

Dr Yvonne Treis, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, is undertaking fieldwork on Basketto, a language spoken in the southern region of Ethiopia, July 2008 - May 2009.

Chia-jung Pan, a PhD student, is undertaking fieldwork on Lha'alua, an Austronesian language spoken in Kaohsiung County, Taiwan, August 2008 - May 2009.

Friedel Frowein, a PhD student, just returned from fieldwork on Siar-Lak, an Austronesian language of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, August 2008 - January 2009.

Dr Stephen Morey, Postdoctoral Research Fellow on a DoBeS grant, just returned from fieldwork on the languages of the Tibeto-Burman and Tai families spoken in Upper Assam, from October 2008 - January 2009.

Dr Gerd Jendraschek, Charles La Trobe Fellow, has returned from fieldwork on Iatmul, East Sepik Province from October - December 2008.

Dr Renee Lambert-Bretiere, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, has returned from fieldwork in Tongwinjab, Papua New Guinea from September - December 2008. She is currently on maternity leave.

David Sangdong, PhD student, is undertaking fieldwork on the Kadu language of Western Burma from October 2008 - March 2009.

Siew-Peng Condon

News from UWA

There have been some recent staffing changes at the University of Western Australia. Shelly Harrison retired in mid-2008. As of 2009, Marie-Eve Ritz is now full-time in the Linguistics program.

John Henderson

News from Linguistics, RSPAS, ANU

Master Class and Seminars

Professor Tony Woodbury (U Texas, Austin) visited the department in February 2009, supported by ANU's Visiting International Academics scheme. Tony has carried out fieldwork on Yup'ik Eskimo and on Chatino (Mexico), writing some seminal papers on the documentation of verbal art in minority speech communities, as well as on other topics including evidentiality, tonal analysis and language documentation more generally. As part of his visit he taught a master class on Language and Verbal Art, as an intensive course during the week Feb 9-13th. The full information about this master class is available at, and

New Research Fellow

The big event late last year at the department was the selection process for the new position of Research Fellow in linguistics. There were three shortlisted candidates (Mark Donohue, Birgit Hellwig, and Bethwyn Evans). They had to give seminars, meet the student representatives and attend the interviews. The seminars for the candidates on November 10th were well attended. Mark Donohue talked about 'Nasals, syllables, and typology and Damal'; Birgit talked about 'Semantic Fieldwork: Investigating verb classes', and Beth presented 'Reanalysis: recovering syntactic and semantic causes'. After the seminar, a dinner was organized in Coombs for the candidates to meet staff members, students and other linguists around the campus. The student Liaison Committee, chaired by Doug Marmion, arranged students' meetings with the candidates in the morning, November 11th. The interviews took place in the afternoon on November 11th. The outcome of the selection was officially announced in December: Mark Donohue was offered the job.

Starting Fellowship

Dr Alexandre François (Lacito-CNRS, France) arrived early January 2009 in Canberra with his family to start his fellowship at the ANU. Alex has received an international mobility grant from CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) for a period of two years, starting February 2009. During this period, he will be a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Linguistics, RSPAS (ANU). While pursuing his studies on the Oceanic languages of north Vanuatu (Banks and Torres islands), he will focus these two years on the description and historical study of the three little-known languages spoken on the island of Vanikoro (Temotu province, Solomon Islands), two of which are almost extinct.

PhD thesis submitted

Congratulations are extended to Michinori Shimoji, who has submitted his PhD thesis and won a fellowship at ILCAA (Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa), Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Michi's thesis is on a reference grammar of Irabu, a Ryukyuan language of the Japonic family. He went back home to Japan in October 2008, submitted his thesis from Japan in December 2008. Early December 2008 he was offered a three-year contract job, working on endangered language descriptions. Michinori, said that he managed to win the competitive job because of his training at the ANU under supervision of Professors Andy Pawley and Malcolm Ross.

Joining the ANU

Mark Donohue joined the Department of Linguistics at RSPAS at the beginning of January. He is a specialist in Papuan languages, the non-Austronesian languages of the Melanesian region, but has also worked in Austronesian languages from Indonesia (Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, Irian Jaya). His immediate plans at the ANU are to continue explorations in the grammars of Papuan languages of the highlands (Damal) and north coast (Skou, One) in New Guinea; continue joint work leading to a better understanding of the historical relations of the western Papuan languages of the Timor area; develop work, with Beth Evans, on the diffusion of non-Austronesian vocabulary items east of New Guinea; and pursue inter-disciplinary work with archaeologists, botanists and geneticists that aims to unravel the histories of the peoples of the Sahul region and surrounds. In an ideal world Mark is perhaps most drawn to morphosyntax, but finds phonology endlessly distracting, as well as historical linguistics. The potential of quantified areal typology to be applied to the study of regional macrohistories, through the detection and classification of substrate features, is his current hobby horse, one that he hopes to continue for a while to come.

Summer Research Scholar

Sophia Jarlov Wallingford (from Wellington, New Zealand) was at the department for two months (December 2008-January 2009) on a Summer Research Scholarship. She recently completed her Bachelor of Arts majoring in Linguistics and Japanese. She is now back to Victoria University of Wellington, NZ, to study for a BA(Hons) in Linguistics in 2009. She has a strong interest in natural Sign Languages, and the focus of her honours thesis will be on an aspect of New Zealand Sign Language. While at the department she was investigating gestures in video recordings from the Waima'a language project, supervised by John Bowden, and also participated in the grammar-writing group sessions.

Invited Talk

Nick Evans delivered an invited talk in early January at the workshop 'Creating Infrastructure for Canonical Typology' ( 'Rare but useful: the canons 'direct' and 'indirect' in reported speech typology' and went on to visit the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen to work on a range of projects, most crucially working with Partner Investigators Steve Levinson and Nick Enfield on the ARC-funded project 'Language and Social Cognition: the design resources of grammatical diversity'.


Tom Honeyman has returned from a short 3 month fieldwork trip in Sandaun Province, Papua New Guinea. This is his second trip to the area, and the situation is quite different from his previous trip in 2005/2006. A large logging company now has a contract on Sandaun province until 2012, which made it significantly easier to move around as some areas have roads for the first time, but difficult in other ways. Tom is working on a description of the language Fas, with a particular focus on reported speech and thought.

The 2009 Stephen Wurm Prize

Congratulations are extended to Lila San Roque, who has won the 2009 Stephen Wurm prize for the best PhD thesis submitted in 2008. Her thesis title is 'An introduction to Duna grammar'. It describes simple sentence structures in Duna (Southern Highlands Province, PNG), with a particular focus on bound morphemes that encode the semantic domain of epistemic assessment. Lila submitted her PhD thesis in September 2008. Two examiners praised her thesis and recommended a prize for its quality. A generous bequest by Stephen Wurm (the first HOD of the department of Linguistics, RSPAS) has allowed the department to establish a scholarship scheme for PhD study in the department, and also a prize for the best PhD thesis submitted in the preceding year. Lila is the second person who won the prize.

New PhD students

There are at least three new PhD students at the department this semester: Sebastien LeCrampe, Jusuf Sawaki and Meladel Mistica. Sebastien is going to continue working on a language of Vanuatu. Jusuf is going to work Woi, an Austronesian language of West Papua. Meladel is working on Treebank and computational linguistic resources for Indonesian, as part of the ARC-funded Indonesian Parallel Grammar (ParGram) project. Meladel is enrolled at Linguistics, CASS (College of Arts and Social Sciences). However, she has her office at Linguistics, RSPAS, CAP (College of Asian and Pacific) in Coombs, working closely with Wayan Arka.

Wayan Arka


Publications received, February 2009

The following is a list of publications relating to the study of language, received by the Reviews Editor of the Australian Journal of Linguistics. Note that it is not possible to return books to the publisher, and that acceptance of a book implies no promise that it will be reviewed in the Australian Journal of Linguistics. Reviews are printed as circumstances permit, and copies are sent to the publishers of the works reviewed. If you wish to review a book, please contact the Reviews Editor, Alan Libert ( Note that many books from previous lists of publications received are still available, so you may want to look at them also. If there is a book you are interested in reviewing but it is not on the list, please contact Alan as it is possible that ALS could then obtain a review copy from the publisher.

  • Austin, P. K. and S. Musgrave, eds. (2008) Voice and Grammatical Relations in Austronesian Languages. CSLI, Stanford, CA.
  • Bowern, C., B. Evans, and L. Miceli, eds. (2008) Morphology and Language History. John Benjamins, Amsterdam.
  • Chambers, J. K. (2009) Sociolinguistic Theory (revised edition). Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester.
  • Frajzyngier, Z. and E. Shay, eds. (2008) Interaction of Syntax and Morphology. John Benjamins, Amsterdam.
  • Gnanadesikan, A. E. (2009) The Writing Revolution: Cuneiform to the Internet. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester.
  • Halliday, M. A. K. and W. R. Greaves (2008) Intonation in the Grammar of English. Equinox, London.
  • Hanauer, D. I. (2008) Scientific Discourse: Multiliteracy in the Classroom. Continuum, London.
  • Hengeveld, K. and J. L. Mackenzie (2008) Functional Discourse Grammar: A Typologically-Based Theory of Language Structure. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Honda, M, and W. O'Neil (2008) Thinking Linguistically: A Scientific Approach to Language. Blackwell, Oxford.
  • Kim, J.-B. and P. Sells (2008) English Syntax: An Introduction. CSLI, Stanford, CA.
  • Kouwenberg, S. and J. V. Singler, eds. (2008) The Handbook of Pidgin and Creole Studies. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester.
  • Martin, J. R. and D. Rose (2008) Genre Relations: Mapping Culture. Equinox, London.
  • Mushin, I. and B. Baker, eds. (2008) Discourse and Grammar in Australian Languages. John Benjamins, Amsterdam.
  • Ringbom, H. (2007) Cross-Linguistic Similarity in Foreign Language Learning. Multilingual Matters, Clevedon.
  • Saeed, J. I. (2009) Semantics (third edition). Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester.
Alan Libert

Upcoming Conferences

Call: Australian Linguistic Society 2009

The call for papers for ALS 2009 is available as the second item in the News section, at the beginning of this newsletter.

Tim Curnow

Jobs, grants, and scholarships

ELDP grants

The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) administered at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London announces two cycles of grant funding in 2009. Full details, including application forms and guidelines, will be available from 1 March 2009 at

In order to meet the demand for support for language documentation work, there will be two granting cycles in 2009. Cycle 1 is targeted to specific granting categories, with an expedited schedule opening on 1 March. Cycle 2 is a full granting cycle, in which applications in all grant categories will be invited, opening on 15 May.

All applicants should note that there have been changes in the categories of grants, application forms and guidance, and terms and conditions. Applicants should familiarise themselves with all aspects of the revised application process, as there will be differences compared to earlier ELDP granting cycles.

2009 Grant Cycle 1 Categories:
Small Grants (up to £10,000)
Individual Graduate Scholarships

Applications open 1 March
Applications due 1 May
Decisions notified in August

2009 Grant Cycle 2 Categories:
Small Grants (up to £10,000)
Individual Graduate Scholarships
Individual Postdoctoral Fellowships
Major Documentation Projects
Training Activity Grants

Applications open 15 May
Applications due 3 August
Decisions notified in January 2010

Peter Austin

Two postdoctoral positions at JCU

Applications are invited for two three year Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in the Cairns Institute, James Cook University, to work as part of a team with Professor Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and Professor R.M.W. Dixon, within the framework of their joint project 'World through the prism of language: a cross-linguistic view of genders, noun classes and classifiers'. They are to commence on 1st May 2009, or soon thereafter.

Applicants should have been awarded their doctorate within the last five years. They should have experience of linguistic fieldwork and will, ideally, have already completed a grammatical description of a language that has not previously been described (not their native language) in terms of basic linguistic theory. The University may consider cases in which the period since the award of the doctorate is in excess of five years due to special circumstances. Applications will be considered from candidates whose thesis is currently under examination. Applicants must hold a doctoral degree or have equivalent qualifications at the date of appointment. A Fellowship will not normally be awarded to an applicant who already holds an appointment within the University. The successful applicant will work as part of a team with Professor Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, Professor R.M.W. Dixon, and other members of the Cairns Institute. Ideally, we are looking for one Postdoctoral Research Fellow who will work on a language from South America and one who will work on a language from New Guinea. However, in exceptional circumstances, applicants with primary interest in another area will be considered. Each appointee will undertake extensive fieldwork and will produce a comprehensive description of a previously undescribed language. The choice of language will be made after discussion between the successful applicant and Professors Aikhenvald and Dixon.

Salary/Job Level Details: Academic Level A ($47,385-$67,009 per annum); Academic Level B - $67,009 - $79,289 per annum. Benefits include generous employer superannuation contribution and attractive options for salary packaging. Level of appointment and commencing salary will be in accordance with qualifications and experience.

Deadline for applications: 20 March 2009. Application forms will shortly be available from the JCU site.

Key Accountabilities: The key duty is to conduct research in anthropological linguistics, with particular attention to language analysis, producing high quality publications in refereed outlets.

Key Selection Criteria

  1. Thorough professional training in linguistics, with special reference to language description, anthropological linguistics and linguistic typology;
  2. PhD (conferred or pending) in descriptive linguistics, in terms of basic linguistic theory;
  3. Demonstrated ability to work, under direction, as a member of a research team;
  4. Demonstrated ability to work to a timetable, and produce results on time;
  5. Demonstrated ability and commitment to disseminate the results of research in high quality publications within agreed timeframes; evidence of high level written, oral and interpersonal communication skills to diverse audiences.

Desirable Selection Criteria

  1. Ideally, to have produced a description of a language, preferably (a) a language for which there had previously been no good description; and (b) a language other than that of which they are a native speaker.
  2. Some training in anthropology.

All enquiries should be directed to Professor Alexandra (Sasha) Aikhenvald, at

Alexandra (Sasha) Aikhenvald

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.