Newsletter August 2010

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 has stepped down from his position of Associate Secretary (Newsletter/Website Editor), and I am taking over from him. Big shoes to fill! Many thanks to you, Tim, for doing such a marvellous job over the last ten (10!) years! And many thanks for sharing your materials so generously with me.

Andrea Schalley

Minutes of the 2010 Annual General Meeting of the Australian Linguistic Society

University of Queensland
July 8, 2010

In attendance:
Piers Kelly, Hugues Peters, Dorothea Hoffman, Peter Collins, Jean Mulder, Lesley Stirling, Wendy Allen, Kate Burridge, Carsten Levisen, Michael Walsh, Erich Round, Sarah Cutfield, Rob Mailhammer, Nick Thieberger, Daniel Willis, Peter Wylie, Diana Eades, Jeff Siegel, Karen Sullivan, Yvonne Treis, Rik de Busser, Felicity Meakins, Rob Pensalfini, Nick Reid, Doug Absalom, Jane Simpson, Harold Koch, Jo Caffery, Patrick McConvell, Tom Mylne, Mary Laughren, Jean Harkins, David Nash, Bill Palmer, Henry Fraser, Hongbing Hannah Li, Jennifer Peck, Celeste Rodriguez Louro, Andrea Schalley, Brett Baker, Keith Allan, Ilana Mushin, John Henderson, Alan Dench

The President, Alan Dench, opened the meeting at 4:35pm.

1. Apologies

Michael Clyne, Lyn Wales, Mark Harvey, John Hajek

2. Minutes of the 2009 AGM

The President moved that the minutes be accepted. Seconded by John Henderson. Passed.

3. Matters arising


4. Reports

4.1 President


Following discussion by the Executive a submission was made to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority in relation to Grammar in the Australian Curriculum (K-10). Concerns were expressed about the nature and quality of the early materials: Rodney Huddleston had made a detailed assessment of some documents and identified inconsistencies and errors (for which the President expressed thanks on behalf of the Society). Linguists should be involved in the development of the curriculum: they will be involved in training teachers and will inherit the results of the curriculum in university programs.

Indigenous Education Action Plan Draft 2010-2014

A joint response was made with ACTA (Australian Council of TESOL Associations) and ALAA.

Senate Inquiry into the Administration and Reporting of NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) Testing.

A joint submission with ACTA and ALAA.

Michael Walsh reported that the national curriculum process is up to stage two. A ‘shape paper’ is being developed by Angela Scarino, jointly with Jackie Troy in relation to Indigenous languages. National committee is chaired by Jo Lo Bianco, and with Michael providing expertise in the area of Indigenous languages. Colloquium addressed question of how much Linguistics in the curriculum. There is also an Expert Group on Indigenous languages. Submissions should be made now to shape paper.


The President met with Andrew Wells (Executive Director HCA and Acting Executive Director SBE) to discuss ERA and the representation of Linguistics in the College of Experts, 6 April 2010. Andrew Wells offered to address the AGM to discuss ERA and other issues but the dates had not worked out.

The President addressed the meeting on the discipline’s position in the ARC processes. He pointed out that ARC panels are broadly representative of the areas they cover but do not strictly represent each individual discipline. Sasha Aikhenvald had been appointed to the College late in 2009 but has since resigned. As is the case at present, there has not always been a linguist on the College of Experts.

He reported that there were perceptions that linguists providing reviews of applications and/or corresponding with the ARC appear to be more negatively critical of each other than is found with other disciplines. He appealed to members to take a positive and constructive approach.

Bill Palmer commented that reviewers can engage with applications to give good constructive comments, and that we wouldn’t want to lose the value of that degree of engagement. Alan agreed that good reviews provided robust, objective and evidence based critiques of proposals and that this was to be encouraged, but observed that should a negative tone shade into personal criticism, this was not helpful to the discipline as a whole.

Linguistics is grouped with languages, Literary Studies, Communication Studies and Cultural Studies in the two-digit Field of Research codes and it is likely that ARC processes will increasingly place Linguistics in this broader grouping. Alan reported that in the ERA trial of the HCA area, Linguistics ranked very well and rated above world average at the national level. The quality of Australian linguistic research is obviously high and greater recognition of the quality of this research would be enhanced by more constructive interaction between the various branches of the discipline.

Concerns so far expressed about ERA had related mainly to journal rankings and the consultation processes involved in achieving these rankings. Alan argued that while there might be surprise at the relative rankings of specific journals within a wide field, it was important to respect the relative rankings of journals made within sub-fields of a broad discipline such as ours.

He also suggested that our opportunities to contribute to the ongoing development of the National Curriculum would be enhanced if the discipline could speak with a unified voice and avoid as much as possible bringing (tangentially relevant) internal disputes into its professional relationships with bodies such as ACARA.

Membership of ARC Panels

Nick Thieberger asked about the process of appointment of ARC panel members and the Society’s role in this. Alan reported that the Executive has received expressions of concern about the appointments of individual panel members from time to time, but has felt that it would be inappropriate for the Society to demonstrate bias for or against individual members.

Brett Baker asked whether the Society can contribute to the appointment of panel members. Alan explained that the nominations are made by universities through Deputy Vice-Chancellors Research, and that members/departments could certainly write to the relevant institution supporting an internal nomination. He reported that he had over a number of years encouraged various linguists to nominate for the panels but without success. Jane Simpson pointed out that a number of linguists had nominated in the past year and asked whether one would fill the present vacancy. Jeff Siegel commented that a Linguistics position had been identified. Alan responded that while the ARC generally indicated that it was seeking nomination in specific areas, such as Linguistics, it did not operate on the assumption of strict disciplinary representation and so did not necessarily recognise a ‘vacancy’. Individual appointments were made to ensure a spread of broad expertise within a panel and across the College of Experts as a whole.


The successful applicants for the prizes/scholarships this year are:

Michael Clyne Prize 2010 (jointly awarded with ALAA)
Dr Ruth Fielding, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney. For her 2009 PhD thesis entitled: ‘Speaking two languages: A study exploring how young bilingual students identify with being bilingual’

Gerhardt Laves Scholarship 2010
James Collins, Linguistics Honours student, University of Sydney. To undertake fieldwork on the syntax-morphology interface of Samoan

Susan Kaldor Scholarship 2010
Sally Dixon, Linguistics PhD student, University of Sydney. To attend a practicum on Conversation Analysis at Loughborough University, UK, in support of her PhD topic using CA to investigate code-switching in interaction in aboriginal child language

For each of these, there were two applications. The President congratulated Sydney University for these excellent achievements, noting that the majority of applications had come from USyd. He encouraged other departments to encourage applications from their students.

4.2 Secretary

Nothing to report.

4.3 Treasurer

A financial statement was circulated to the meeting. See separate report.

4.4 Journal Editors

See separate report [Editor's note: For the report, please contact Keith Allan on]. Harold Koch pointed out that the front matter in the journal has had out-of-date information on the membership of the Executive. Keith undertook to fix this, suggesting instead a simple link to the current list of Executive members on the Society’s website. He also asked members to contact him directly with any comments on the journal. Diana Eades moved a vote of thanks to Kate Burridge, who has now stepped down as co-editor. Passed by acclamation.

4.5 Associate Secretary (Newsletter Editor)

Tim Curnow submitted a written report which was read to the meeting:

My apologies for not being present at the AGM — I’m at a conference in NZ at the moment. From my point of view, this year has once again gone smoothly as far as the website, Newsletter and ALS Online are concerned. The Newsletter in particular, I feel, keeps us all somewhat connected and aware of what is going on in linguistics across the country. After 10 years of being the Associate Secretary for ALS, I feel it’s time for me to retire from this position. Not just because in my current job I keep missing every second AGM (!), but more because after 10 years of me running website and newsletter, it’s probably time for some revitalisation, and the easiest way to ensure that happens, to my mind, is to let someone else with new ideas take over the job. I’d like to thank everyone in the Society who has assisted me in this position over the last decade. While I might be the one who puts the newsletter together and keeps the website going, I’m not the generator of the news and information. My job has relied on the many members of the Society who send me news and gossip, and who let me know when I’ve forgotten to update the website to mention the latest ALS conference! Without that input from many people, there is nothing to put in the newsletter or up on the website. So thank you all very much, and I hope the new Associate Secretary continues to enjoy the support I’ve received in this position, and enjoys it as much as I have!

The President moved a vote of thanks to Tim for his service to the Society. Passed by acclamation.

4.6 CIPL Representative

No report received.

4.7 Pacific Linguistics Representative

David Nash made a brief representation on behalf of PL, requesting a further grant of $5000. John Henderson suggested that this should be held back pending a review of the Society’s capacity to sustain our capital base over time. Harold Koch queried how long this would be held back. Brett Baker suggested that the Society make the grant this year but review our position for next year. Ilana Mushin asked whether this was budgeted for annually. The President responded that the decision in the past had been to consider it year by year, and specifically not to commit to a regular payment. He also noted that the Society expected a rationale for the request each year from PL. David Nash reported that Andy Pawley could provide a general rationale, and that there are plans for some restructuring of PL to make it more efficient. He pointed out that a major cost at PL is the cost of the quality technical copy-editing which maintains the high quality of PL publications. Bill Palmer suggested that the Society make the PL grant a regular payment by default, but with an annual review, and a report on the financial situation for the next AGM. John Henderson commented that the issue is the priority of PL relative to the Society’s other regular scholarship and other commitments, given that there is only a limited amount of return on investments that can be disbursed each year without eroding our capital base. Brett Baker reported that he was unable to confirm that we could afford to make a regular commitment to PL. Alan Dench agreed that we need more information on our financial status over time. Doug Absalom supported this, pointing out that we need to be careful not to over-commit. Harold Koch reminded the meeting that the Society had been given representation on the board of PL in exchange for the grant in earlier years, and asked whether this would be continued in the grant were ceased.

A motion was put to approve the payment of $5000 to Pacific Linguistics for 2010 and to review the question of a regular commitment at the next AGM in light of a more detailed financial report. Passed.

4.8 ALS2010 Organisers

Ilana Mushin reported that there had been 84 registrations. The organisation had proceeded smoothly and had resulted in a good conference. She thanked Felicity Meakins, who had really been her co-organiser, and Danny Willis, who had especially contributed to the program and website, and the other undergraduate and postgraduate students who had assisted. The President expressed the Society’s thanks to the organisers. [Secretary’s Note: Ilana, Felicity and Danny were formally thanked with a small presentation after the plenary session on the following day.]

4.9 ALS2011 Organisers

John Henderson reported that UWA was not in a good position to host the conference in July 2011, and asked whether ANU or any other program would be able to take it on. Harold Koch reported that the staffing situation at ANU was not strong and that he would need to consult with his colleagues. There had been some earlier discussion of ANU hosting an ALS with ALI. Harold will report back within a few weeks.

5. Future ALI and ALS conferencse

John Henderson pointed out that the larger scale versions of ALI had proved difficult to maintain over time given general workload and funding issues. He described some alternative options that would help to meet the training and professional development goals of ALI, and proposed for future ALS conferences a small program of just a few small-scale courses over one or two days that could be framed as Tutorial Days, Master-classes etc. This would not rule out larger-scale options if they become possible. Sarah Cutfield raised the issue of Indigenous Languages programs held at earlier ALIs. There are discussions with the Maintenance of Indigenous Languages and Records (MILR) program. Any future workshops could be expected to have a greater Indigenous focus in their organisation. Jane Simpson pointed out that one of the original goals of ALI had been to provide courses that could be taken for credit. She noted that this would require at least 24 contact hours, perhaps as 5 hours per day for 5 days. Others not taking the courses for credit could dip into parts of the course.

6. Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiad (OzCLO)

Jane Simpson reported that OzCLO had been very successful again this year. A national team is taking part in the ILO in Sweden, thanks to the organisation of Dominique Estival and Rachel Nordlinger. A key part of the state and national competition is the quality of the problems. These are always needed. Students working on a language should be encouraged to develop a problem set from their analysis. This is not only of benefit to OzCLO but can often help the student’s analysis. Mary Laughren, who co-ordinates the problem sets, reported that OzCLO has joined the ELCLO group to share problems internationally. ELCLO timing means problems would need to be submitted to her before Christmas because they go through an extensive comment and testing process. Jane Simpson noted the OzCLO agreement that any state/region that wants to participate in the competition needs to contribute to the problem sets, and encouraged members and programs to start working on them. Mary advised contributors to look at the problem sets available on the OzCLO website. Don’t assume previous linguistic training or knowledge of terminology. Computational problems are also needed. Michael Walsh suggested that ACARA should be informed about the success of OzCLO in schools. Alan Dench noted that the feedback to teachers indicates that students enjoy the challenge. Ilana Mushin reported that at least one school had created a Linguistics Club as a result!

7. Shared Coursework

Alan Dench described international trends in the development of Honours and postgraduate degrees by research. There was movement towards a consistent 8 year tertiary education model; the Bologna 3+2+3 model but with variations including a 4+4 model. While Honours was under some pressure (given that it does not fit the strict interpretation of the Bologna 3+2+3 frame) might be phased out in some places, there is also renewed interest in the Honours model in some countries which have not traditionally used such a model (e.g. Germany). There is a growing international trend to incorporate some course work component into the PhD.

ERA is likely to play a part in determining the distribution of scholarships towards areas of demonstrated research excellence, and universities were likely to follow suit. There was thus scope for the building of specific PhD (and Masters) programs linked to Fields of Research and with a defined curriculum, including coursework.

Given that most Linguistics departments/programs in Australia are relatively small, it is unlikely that many could support coursework in PhDs. Alan pointed out that there is however an opportunity for collaboration between departments/universities. There are various possible models:

  • the development of a distributed curriculum, or set of curricula: individual courses taught at different institutions and accessed by all.
  • identification of particular graduate schools in particular institutions, which offer coursework in a defined area of expertise, and with which other institutions would partner for the purposes of accessing HDR coursework for their students.
  • joint (cross-institutional) enrolment [i.e. domestic co-tutelle]
  • a revamped ALI, funded through institutional grants and with courses taken for credit

The key issue for any of these models is the funding mechanisms.

Nick Reid described the model developed by UNE and others for a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education which has 8 units, 2 at a student’s home institution and a choice of other units across institutions. The EFTSL are split according to which units students select. Alan noted that the funding model is different for coursework degrees (as opposed to RHDs) but that the general model here could be valuable for RHDs. Jo Caffery reported that she is doing the course and that it has a number of advantages for students.

Felicity Meakins asked whether the duration of scholarships would be increased in order to add coursework to PhDs. Alan reported that there have been recommendations to extend APAs to 4 years.

8. Award for Promotion of Public Understanding of Linguistics

Piers Kelly reported on a meeting of students in Melbourne and brought to the AGM their suggestion that the Society establish an award to recognize colleagues who promote linguistics and who raise awareness of linguistic evidence in public discussion. This would not necessarily be for a specific piece of work such as a book. The award would not involve a prize.

Motion: That the Society establish an annual award for contribution to public understanding of language, and that the Executive be authorised to develop the conditions and processes of the award.

Moved: Piers Kelly
Seconded: Michael Walsh

9. Election of Officers:

The following nominations were received for the positions open for election this year. The President called for further nominations, and there being no other nominations, the following were elected unopposed.

Vice-President: Mark Harvey
Treasurer: Brett Baker
Secretary: Nick Thieberger
Associate Secretary (Newsletter Editor): Andrea Schalley
Postgraduate Student Representative: Piers Kelly

The President thanked the out-going office-bearers.

10. Other Business

Language Documentation

Michael Walsh brought to the attention of the meeting the motion recently passed by the Linguistic Society of America recognising scholarship in language documentation. A modified version of that motion was proposed.

Motion: The Society supports the recognition of the products of language documentation and work supporting linguistic vitality as scholarly contributions to be given weight in the awarding of advanced degrees and in decisions on hiring, tenure, and promotion. It supports the development of appropriate means of review of such works so that their functionality, import, and scope can be assessed relative to other language resources and to more traditional publications.

Moved: Michael Walsh
Seconded: Alan Dench

Mary Laughren proposed that the Society should write to Deans to call on them to provide recognition for this kind of work.

New Journal

Harold Koch noted a new journal in historical linguistics published by Benjamins; “Journal of Historical Linguistics”

The President closed the meeting at 6:15pm.

John Henderson

Treasurer's Report


Scholarship fund $39,473.00
Investment fund $73,695.71

Total profit/loss

Membership account

$10, 077.64

Treasurer's accounts 1/07/09

Money Managers $25,290.78
Cheque account $11,426.78
Total profit/loss investments 08/09


Treasurer's accounts detail:


AJL $10,249.52
Laves schol
ALI08 float $35,000.00
ALS webhosting
ALS09 income $1,104.47
Editorial expenses $474.90
Interest $373.04
??T&F Royalties $2,250.00
Shares reimbursed $10.00
ALS schols

Bank fees
Total $48,987.03

Total profit/loss treasurer's accounts


Membership accounts detail:


Interest $651.38

TOTAL $651.38
Internat schol


Total profit/loss memberships


Profit/Loss for the year


Brett Baker

Brett Baker

Call for New Linguistics and Computational Linguistics Problems for OZCLO

Try your hand at setting a Linguistic Problem for the 2011 Ozclo competition rounds. If you don't know about Ozclo or don't know what sort of problem is suitable please visit Your problem could be one of those that thousands of eager high school students in Australia, as well as Ireland, north America, Singapore and the United Kingdom will be asked to solve – and your name and affiliation will be world famous.

The problems should be able to be solved without any prior knowledge of the language data or of linguistics. Even if you just have a basic idea and data set for a problem but don't have time to work it up into the perfect problem we are interested in receiving your embryonic puzzle – there's an international team of linguistics problem junkies waiting to bring it to maturity.

This is not just a call to linguistics staff or faculty but also to students and other linguistics and language lovers. We haven't yet had any FLA or SLA problems so I'd be particularly keen to get some.

Time-frame: Actual competition rounds start early in 2011. Please send your problems to Mary Laughren (Chair, Ozclo Problem Committee, email: by 1st November 2010.

Mary Laughren

Skilling community language workers

Kimberley TAFE in Broome, WA, has responded to requests from community language workers to help them learn to use a free program to do their own language documentation. The language diversity of the Kimberley, coupled with the isolated situation of many language speakers, usually means bringing advisors to work on projects is a very costly exercise and there is little continuity after the advisor leaves with their specialist knowledge. This scenario is about to change.

A completely online course introducing the basic operations of SIL’s Lexique Pro is now available through Kimberley TAFE. The course assumes no previous knowledge of the program. Under guidance students build a database from 59 basic entries to 120 expanded entries with illustrations, audio files, sample sentences, pronunciation lines and morphological breakup. Students are then guided through the process of proof reading and exporting the data for use on other computers, uploading to websites or for making a printed document. Students can begin any time, work at their own pace and have six months in which to complete the course. Email contact with the lecturer is available from within the CE6 program which is used for course delivery. Any Australian resident can enrol in the course at a cost of around $70.00. A CD containing all instruction materials is provided and assignments can be sent by Australia Post if necessary. The course is accredited within the TAFE system and can form part of a Certificate II or III in Business or IT.

For further enquiries please contact:
Online Lecturer Colleen Hattersley :, or
Business & IT Program Supervisor Gary Urquhart:

Colleen Hattersley

News from University of New England

Jeff Siegel will be an External Fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, for the month of September.

Diana Eades' new book was launched at the recent ALS conference:
Eades, Diana 2010. Sociolinguistics and the Legal Process. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

We were very sad to farewell Brett Baker who left UNE to take up a position at the University of Melbourne in July. We wish Brett all the best in his new position.

Liz Ellis

News from Linguistics, College of Asia and the Pacific, ANU


NSF Grant. Mark Donohue, as part of a team including Steven Bird (University of Melbourne), Larry Hyman (University of California, Berkeley) and Mark Liberman (University of Pittsburgh), has been awarded around $290,000 (the amount varies depending on the exchange rate) from the USA's National Science Foundation (grant number 0951651). The team will be investigating tone and tone languages in New Guinea, and will be holding workshops in the USA, in Australia, and in New Guinea. This will mean world-leaders in tonal analysis coming to visit, and lend their expertise. There's never been a better time to consider work on a tone language! Talk to Mark for more details. As part of the plan to kick off the NSF grant to investigate tone in and near New Guinea, the University of California at Berkeley will be hosting a workshop with a working title "Workshop on How to Study a Tone Language: from the first elicitation to the latest software", to be held in February next year. Later workshops will be organised in mid-2011 at the ANU.

ELDP Grants. All four doctoral students who applied for ELDP grants were successful – a fabulous result that will help each of them gather much more field data than they otherwise could have – one in India, one in PNG, and two in indigenous Australia.

Aung Si was awarded 7,300 pounds, for fieldwork and equipment support, for his project ‘Aspects of the ethnobiological knowledge of the Sholaga of southern India’. He will be documenting the folk biological knowledge of the Sholaga, as expressed through their language. This will take the form of verbal descriptions of culturally significant plants and animals, spatial and temporal patterns in forest ecology, songs and folk tales about various organisms, and descriptions of natural resource-collecting practices, such as honey gathering.

Greg Dickson received funding for a project called Saltwater stories as told by the old Marra ladies will provide extra funding and be a great help to Greg's fieldwork over the next year or so - almost all of the £8500 grant (about $14,500) will go directly to paying Marra people for their involvement in documenting their language. Greg works with a team of language workers as well as the 7 or so remaining elderly speakers to document Marra language and cultural knowledge.

Maïa Ponsonnet received $AU18,333 (actually more than she asked for, after ELDP generously suggested an equipment upgrade), for her project "A Culturally Informed Corpus of Dalabon: Descriptions of the Person as Body and as Kin". Maia has already begun work on this, and during her first field session, this month, videoed a long session where Maggie Tukumba, the most prominent Dalabon speaker, described animals and their body-parts on some large paintings.

Tom Honeyman received funding for additional work on Momu (Fas) in PNG, which will allow him to extend his corpus of recordings and produce literacy materials for the community. Tom is currently out of regular email access, in the field, and we will give more details on this once we get back into contact.

Tim Hassall has been awarded a CHL small grant to help fund a trip by a team of 3-4 language teachers from the ANU School of Culture, History and Language to attend and present a paper at the 4th CLaSIC Conference at the National University of Singapore, in December 2010. This biennial conference is on foreign language teaching and learning. For further information about CLaSIC 2010 see

Peter Hendriks also received a grant for approx. $2,000 from the CHL small grant scheme to fund an administrator to start planning for the 2011 ALAA and ALANZ conference to be held at the ANU and UC.

Wayan Arka has won a CAP internal research grant ($4,973) to organise a one-week workshop in December 2010 in Merauke. The workshop combines his linguistic fieldwork with local capacity building effort in the domain of awareness of language maintenance and participation in language documentation. The target participants are representatives of minority language group in the surrounding areas of Merauke, Indonesian Papua. Most of languages of minority groups of Indonesia, particularly in West Papua, are either underdocumented or completely undocumented. Given the often difficult political and socioeconomic circumstances as well as the remoteness of these languages, one way to help document these languages is to actively involve members of the communities in basic linguistic and documentary work.

Maïa Ponsonnet received $7000 from the Hoffman Foundation who provides small grants for projects on Australian Indigenous Languages. The grant is for a pilot project to develop the skills of two Dalabon women to use ELAN to transcribe and translate recordings from the Dalabon corpus being assembled cooperatively by various parties including Nick Evans, Maïa and Sarah Cutfield from AIATSIS. Project participants Marie and Queenie Brennan are experienced language workers from Barunga community in the Northern Territory. The project allows the women to engage with Dalabon researchers at a higher level and should the pilot be successful, go on to work as research assistants.


Congratulations to Dr. Alexandre François (Lacito-CNRS, France), who has been awarded an extension for his fellowship at the ANU. Dr Alex François has been a Visiting Fellow at the ANU Dept of Linguistics since January 2009. His home institution in Paris, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, has just granted an extension of his Fellowship until July 2012. This continued presence at the ANU will allow him to pursue his research on the description and comparison of several Oceanic languages of Vanuatu and east Solomon Islands, both from the typological and historical perspective. His current projects include a grammar of Teanu (Vanikoro, Solomon Is) and descriptive studies of Hiw (Torres Is, Vanuatu), as well as a more general reflection on processes of linguistic change in multilingual Pacific societies.

Conferences, Seminars, Workshops

February 8-12. The 2nd workshop on the languages of Papuan was held in Manokwari with the generous support of funds from Australia-Netherlands Research Collaboration (ANRC). The workshop was co-organised by the Australian National University, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig; the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen; Leiden University and the Pusat Dokumentasi Bahasa-Bahasa Hampir Punah di Papua, Universitas Negeri Papua, Manokwari, Indonesia. In addition to individual papers, there were two panels addressing the issues on local languages and education in Melanesia and the role of Papuan Malay. The workshop was followed by a one-day master class on Field Methods on Saturday the 13th of February.

March 22-27. Wayan Arka and Meladel Mistica, representing the Indonesian ParGram (Parallel Grammar) Research Group, attended the ParGram workshop at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Wayan presented two papers at the workshop, reporting the progress and new findings of the research development of computational grammar of Indonesian.

April 17-18, 2010. The 1st Etymological Symposium was held at ANU Coastal Campus, Kioloa. The symposium (apparently the first of its kind in Australia) featured eight talks on a range of issues connected to a broad view of etymology as investigations into the origin of linguistic items, regardless of whether they are words (lexical etymology) or structures (structural etymology).

April 23-May 6. Mark Donohue travelled to a conference at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to deliver a paper on typological variation in language families and linguistic areas, and to co-present a paper discussing the linguistic evidence for intense contact between the Tiwanaku polity (around Lake Titicaca) and the Gran Chaco region of northern Argentina. Archaeologists had previously posited trade, with hallucinogenic snuff travelling into the highlands and salt moving into the lowlands. Linguistic analysis reveals this ancient drug trade in the modern languages. The linguistic work, conducted in collaboration with Lev Michael (University of California) and Pattie Epps (University of Texas), demonstrates that the level of contact must have been more intense than simple trade. Mark also visited colleagues at the University of California, Santa Cruz and University of California, Berkeley.

April 12. Stef Spronck participated in a workshop organised by the Dutch and Belgian organisations for applied linguistics, held in Utrecht, The Netherlands. He presented a paper on multilingualism and sociolects in Aboriginal Australia and its implications for dictionary writing and language standardisation.

May 28-30. The third annual meeting of the ARC funded Language and Social Cognition project was held at the ANU Kioloa coastal campus. The workshop was well attended with visitors Alan Jones and Frank Lichtenberk joining the regular project members from the ANU, Melbourne University and Griffith University. Nick Evans opened the meeting with a paper on how Dalabon grammar reflects aspects of other minds and social organisation and the workshop was concluded on Sunday with a presentation by Alan Rumsey who presented a paper on the relation between social cognition and language acquisition in Ku Waru. The remaining papers highlighted a range of topics relating to the connection between language and the social universe of speakers. Anneliese Kuhle presented on reciprocity in Ku Waru and Tatsuya Yanagida on possessive constructions in Ata. The project’s PhD students Lauren Gawne (Melbourne University), Tom Honeyman and Stef Spronck (ANU) reported on their work in progress and Alexander Borkowski (Griffith University) presented on the project’s archiving software tool.

June 2-13. Nick Evans travelled to Europe, attending the conference on Periphrasis, at the University of Surrey.

July 4-6. Tim Hassall presented a paper at the conference of the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia, held in Brisbane. The paper, in the field of interlanguage pragmatics, was titled Learning Address Terms in Indonesian: A Diary Study.

July 30-3 August 2010. Wayan Arka presented a paper on dynamic and stative passives in Indonesian and their computational implementation at the 4th International MALINDO workshop in Jakarta. MALINDO is an annual workshop for computational linguistics research projects on languages of South-east Asia, mainly Malay and Indonesian. Wayan’s work is part of his on-going ARC-funded project on Indonesian ParGram. After the workshop, Wayan also visited Pusat Bahasa (National Language Centre) and research partners at Universitas Indonesia for a possible follow-up project.


Nick Evans and Steve Levinson’s paper on 'The Myth of Language Universals', published last year in the cognitive science journalBrain and Behavioral Sciences, has recently become the subject of a cover story in New Scientist (29 May issue). Nick is currently collaborating with Levinson on a response to a special issue of commentary on the controversial paper and will be published by the journal Lingua.

Three publications by Rob Mailhammer appeared in May: ‘Problems in English Historical Phonology’ (Anglia 127/2, 2009), ‘Thoughts on the Genesis and the Development of Syllable Cut in English’ (Anglia 127/2 2009) and ‘Die etymologische Forschung und Lehre auf dem Gebiet des Germanischen in Deutschland am Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts’ (Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia 15 (2010), 37-65).

Mark Donohue and a team of collaborators: Bronwen Whiting (ANU), Simon Musgrave (Monash) and Søren Wichmann (Max Planck), have had their paper "Typological feature analysis models linguistic geography" accepted for publication in Language. Mark's article "The Papuanness of New Guinea’s eastern highlands", which paves the way for 'defining' and quantifying the typology of Papuan languages, appeared in a publication by the Linguistic Society of the Philippines. Also in a Philippine source, "Pronouns, clitics, orders and grammaticalization in Tukang Besi" appeared in Studies in Philippine Languages and Cultures.

April 23: Nihongo go ippai, a new Japanese textbook, written by Duck Young Lee, Naomi Ogi, Masahiro Toma and Yoko Yonezawa, was launched at the McDonald Seminar Room in the Menzies Library. Congratulations to the authors on this major new book, the fruit of many years of teaching Japanese at ANU by Duck and his team. See for further details of this innovative new textbook.

Tim Hassall had an encyclopedia entry accepted for publication. The piece (3,000 words) is titled Pragmatic Development in Study Abroad Contexts, and will appear in The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics (Wiley-Blackwell).

Pacific Linguistics. Recent releases from Pacific Linguistics include:

  • Old Khmer Grammar Philip Jenner and Paul Sidwell (PL 611).
  • Reconstructing Proto Koiarian: The history of a Papuan language family Tom Dutton (PL 610)
  • Grammatical change: theory and description Rachel Hendery and Jennifer Hendriks (PL609)
  • A grammar of Abma: a language of Pentecost Island, Vanuatu Cynthia Schneider (PL 608)
  • The Buyang language of South China: grammatical notes, glossary, texts and translations LI Jinfang LI and Yongxian LUO, (PL 607)
  • Mali (Baining) texts Tonya N. Stebbins with the assistance of Julius Tayul, (PL 606).

For the complete list of PL publications, go to

PhD theses

Two linguistics students have finished off their PhDs at the ANU: Jacinta Smallhorn and Antoinette Schapper. Their dissertations focus on Papuanist topics, one historical and one descriptive. Jacinta’s dissertation is on 'A reconstruction and subgrouping of the Binanderean languages of Papua New Guinea' and Antoinette’s dissertation is on 'Bunaq: a Papuan language of central Timor'.

Doug Marmion has submitted his PhD thesis on ‘A Grammar of Wutung, a language of Papua New Guinea.’


April 2010. Nick Evans worked with Japanese colleagues at Chikyuken (Research Institute for Humanity and Nature) in Kyoto to assist with a Japanese translation of his recent book Dying Words: Endangered languages and what they have to tell us.

May 2010. Rob Mailhammer traveled to Darwin and Croker Island, NT. He discovered that Amurdak is not as dead as it had been believed; there are still several people who can understand the language and translate it excellently into other languages. It didn't take too much to trigger active language use and for the first time Rob was able to practice speaking Amurdak to someone other than himself!

June 2010- now. Chikako Senge is in Halls Creek, WA doing her second fieldwork (for about 6 months) on Wanyjirra. The living/working place is better than it was last year. However, she loses one of the two consultants who worked with her last year. So this year, she starts with another consultant and also seeks for other speakers.

June 2010-now. Tom Honeyman is in northern Papua New Guinea for a few months, continuing work on the Momu language.

Mid June-Mid August 2010. Sébastien Lacrampe spent two months in the field in Lelepa, Central Vanuatu. He focussed on enlarging the Lelepa corpus he started building in 2006 as well as giving more than a go at solving a few grammatical and phonological mysteries that have kept him awake at night.

While on Lelepa he was organising a series of orthography development workshops for and with Lelepa speakers; the outcome of these workshops being the publication of a book of Lelepa stories in text and audio form with translations in the official languages of Vanuatu, English and French, This project is supported by the World heritage Tourism Committee for the Lelepa region.

June 22-25. Nick Evans travelled up to Mornington Island, his old Kayardild stomping-ground in a trip supported by Alcaston Galleries, in Melbourne, to enable him to conduct a Kayardild-language interview with artist Sally Gabori about a painting of hers, for which a detail will be reproduced in enlarged form on the wall of the new Brisbane Supreme Court and District Court. Of the interview, Nick said, “This was fascinating – Sally gave a very detailed and interesting account of the painting and her preferences as to which elements should go up on the wall”. On the way to Mornington Island, Nick gave a talk at James Cook University (Cairns Campus) on linguistic diversity in southern New Guinea.

June - .... Greg Dickson returned to Ngukurr community (Southern Arnhem Land) where he worked as a community linguist from 2004-07. Commencing his PhD fieldwork on the Marra language, he quickly got to work with the Marra language team to process never before transcribed/translated recordings made by Ken Hale in 1959. Greg will also work with the 10 or so Marra speakers to document more linguistic and cultural information.

Early July. Piers Kelly returned from three months of fieldwork on the island of Bohol in the Philippines. Much of his time was spent analysing a few of the canonical texts from the large body of Eskaya literature. Certain parts of the texts are nonsensical, even to speakers of Eskayan, and Piers enjoyed being part of the collective activity of unravelling, reconstituting and 'standardising' the stories. His archival research in neighbouring Cebu suggests that one particular story is a retelling of a popular Cebuano-Visayan potboiler, published in 1913.

July-.... Maïa Ponsonnet is in the field, working with Dalabon and Kriol speakers in Katherine, Northern Territory or in the remote communities of Barunga, Beswick/Wugularr, Weemol.

Stef Spronck has had a good start to his fieldworktrip in the Kimberley, WA, where he will continue his PhD research on reported speech in Ngarinyin. He'll be in the field until November.

Visiting Fellow

Professor Angelika Lutz (University of Erlangen) was a Visiting Fellow in Linguistics (March 30 - April 10) and gave a talk in the Centre for Research on Language Change Seminar Series on 7th April on "Types of language contact with Old Norse".

Professor Theo Vennemann (University of Munich) was a Visiting Fellow in Linguistics (March 30 - May 3) to work on a book project with Rob Mailhammer. He gave a talk in the Centre for Research on Language Change Seminar Series on 14th April with the title "Vasconic features in West Indo-European: Structure and lexicon". He also participated in the 1st Etymological Symposium at Kioloa (17th -18th April) with a paper on "Lexical and structural etymology of Proto-Germanic: The Semitic component".

Anneliese Kuhle was a visiting PhD student from the Freie Universität Berlin (from May 2009 until July 2010). Through the month of April she continued working on her research topic 'reciprocity from a cross-linguistic perspective', looking for interesting data in some Papuan languages (eg. Yimas, Skou, Yagaria and Ku Waru). New discoveries were kept to a minimum, but at least Anneliese felt like she was trying hard - although there were rumours that she had gone off bushwalking through Australia.

Frank Lichtenberk spent over four months here on research and study leave from the University of Auckland (January-early June). Frank spent most of his time here working on possessive constructions in Oceanic languages but also gave two talks, attended reading groups and took part in the Social Cognition and Language workshop held at Kioloa. Frank said he thoroughly enjoyed his time at the ANU. He was impressed by the quality of work done by the students and by the collegiality in Linguistics.

New PhD Student

Jeremy Snyder, from the University of Western Australia, joined us as a new PhD student in June. En route from Perth Jeremy stopped off in Bowral for the HCSNet WinterFest, where he had been awarded a scholarship to study intensively before appearing in Canberra. Jeremy is going to be heading off to Indonesia soon. He will first take an intensive Indonesian course in Yogyakarta and then he will travel to west Papua for first fieldwork.

New Job

Congratulations are extended to Robert Mailhammer, who has got a new job as Assistant Professor (tenure track) at Arizona State University, Phonix, starting second semester this year. The job was advertised in comparative/historical linguistics including non-Indo-European languages. Rob began his fellowship at Linguistics (CAP, ANU) in April 2009, funded by a Feodor-Lynen postdoctoral grant. Rob's main research interests are Australian languages and descriptive linguistics as well as language change and language variation, particularly in the Germanic languages, morphology, phonology and language acquisition. While in the US, he said he would keep working on Amurdak, an Australian language from Northern Arnhem Land, and would visit the ANU regularly.


April 20th: Australian independent news website, Crikey, launched a language blog called "Fully (sic)", developed by a group of post-grad linguistics students from the College of Asia & the Pacific and the College of Arts and Social Sciences with additional contributors from further afield. A purely extra-curricular activity, “Fully (sic)” is a popular linguistics blog aimed to promote public awareness of language issues in Australia in an informed and fun way. Contributors from CAP include Piers Kelly, Aung Si and Greg Dickson. The name of the blog plays on a recently developed Australianism which Piers explains in an early blogpost: “It’s associated with Mediterranean and/or Middle Eastern Australian English and speakers of these varieties certainly became early adopters, as represented in the popular SBS program Fat Pizza.”

Being a multi-authored blog, contributions are welcome from anyone wishing to write about topics within the general theme of language in Australia. "Fully (sic)" can be found at

Wayan Arka

News from La Trobe University

Grant successes

Tonya Stebbins and Christina Eira: ARC Linkage Grant: “Meeting point: Integrating Aboriginal and linguistics knowledge systems for description of contemporary revival languages in Australia”.

Tonya Stebbins: La Trobe University E-Research Grant: “Computerised lexical comparison and cognate ranking for large cross-linguistic data sets”.

Ruth Singer and Sabine Hoeng: Maintenance of Indigenous Languages and Records Grant: “Mawng language project”.

Anthony Jukes: Pilot Project Grant from the Endangered Archives Programme, British Library: “Preservation of Makassarese Iontara”.

RCLT International Workshop

The Research Centre for Linguistic Typology hosted its 10th International Workshop, “The Shaping of Language: The Relationship between the Structures of Languages and their Social, Cultural, Historical, and Natural Environments”, 14-16 July, 2010, on the La Trobe University campus. The Workshop was a tremendous success, with excellent presentations and a large audience of interested scholars. With a group of around 60 people participating per day, there was much good discussion. Following is a list of the presentations, in the order they were presented. The presentations by Peter Trudgill, Randy LaPolla, Uri Tadmor, David Bradley, Lev Michael, Yoshiyuki Asahi, Tonya Stebbins, Anna Martowicz, Bill Palmer, Kate Burridge, Jingyi Du, Friedel Frowein, Ronny Meyer, and Michael Clyne are also being posted on iTunes U, one each week in the same order. If you have iTunes installed on your computer, you can download the talks and subscribe to the series by clicking on the following link: Alternatively, you can go to the iTunes store (clicking on the link for iTunes) and search for “The Shaping of Language”. In the first week alone, the podcast of Peter Trudgill’s presentation was downloaded 850 times.

  • Peter Trudgill: “Social structure and language change: societies of intimates and mature phenomena”
  • Randy J. LaPolla: “On the logical necessity of a cultural connection for all aspects of linguistic structure”
  • Uri Tadmor: “The grammaticalization of generational affiliation in Onya Darat”
  • David Bradley: “Writing systems and language environment: Lisu and Nisu”
  • Lev Michael: “The cultural bases of linguistic form: The development of Nanti reportive and quotative evidentials”
  • Yoshiyuki Asahi: “Innovative contact-induced phenomena in an endocentric urban community of New Town”
  • Johanna Nichols: “The vertical archipelago: altitude, typology, and sociolinguistics in mountain languages”
  • Tonya N. Stebbins: “On becoming an object of study: legitimisation in the discipline of Linguistics”
  • Anna Martowicz: “Influence of socio-cultural factors on explicitness of clause-linking”
  • William Palmer: “Landscape in language: Integrating topography in linguistic spatial reference”
  • Kate Burridge: “The body, the universe, society and language — Early Germanic in the grip of the unknown”
  • Jingyi Du: “Absolute directional system in Usen Barok”
  • Friedel Martin Frowein: “Location, direction and deixis in Siar”
  • Ronny Meyer: “The influence of long periods of peaceful coexistence, intermarriage and cultural exchange on the structure of language: A case study of the Muher enclave in Tattessa (Ethiopia)”
  • Michael Clyne: “Sociolinguistic typology and migrant language ecology”

Future Fellow to arrive

Birgit Hellwig will commence a 4-year Future Fellowship at the RCLT on 27 September 2010, to work on the project entitled ‘Semantic categories: exploring the history of the Baining languages of Island Melanesia’. The research will investigate and compare semantic categories of verb classification within this Papua New Guinea language family, in order to contribute to a fuller understanding of the historical, linguistic and ethnic relationships across Island Melanesia, as well as the understanding of human cognition by examining how the human mind categorises the world.

Newsletter available

The RCLT Newsletter for 2010 is now available from our website by clicking on the following link:

Randy LaPolla

News from AIATSIS

AIATSIS Language Unit

AIATSIS has successfully negotiated a three-year funding agreement with the Maintenance of Indigenous Languages and Records Program (DEWHA) to create new three-year research and service delivery program for Australia’s Indigenous languages community. The AIATSIS Language Unit seeks to be a national program for research and resources on Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, operating in a nexus between Indigenous language communities, researchers, FATSIL and regional language centres, registered training organisations, State and Federal Governments and the wider Australian public. Our priorities include:

  • facilitating access to existing archived Indigenous language materials;
  • furthering ethical and participatory research on Indigenous languages;
  • supporting emerging Indigenous linguists;
  • engaging communities and other stakeholders in language research and development;
  • develop language resources and multimedia technologies to support these activities;
  • providing input into policies relating to Indigenous languages; and
  • raising the profile and status of Indigenous languages.

It is expected that the AIATSIS Language Unit will commence its program in September 2010.

AIATSIS Linguistics Summer Scholarships, offered through the ANU Summer Scholarships scheme.

AIATSIS encourages (Australianist) academic linguists to forward the following information about its 2010/11 Linguistics Summer Scholarships to undergraduate students. Australianist linguists are welcome to identify AIATSIS collections in need of documentary work, in exchange for provision of additional supervision to the Summer Scholar working on these collections.

A Summer Research Scholarship at The Australian National University is an exceptional research opportunity for high achieving undergraduate (typically third year) and honours students, providing an insight into what studying for an honours or a graduate research degree is all about. Scholarships are available for students from all Australian and New Zealand universities. Travel, accommodation and a modest allowance are provided for an 8-week Canberra residency. In addition, the AIATSIS Linguistics Summer Scholars will be encouraged and supported to present the results of their research at the annual Australian Languages Workshop in March.

AIATSIS is offering two Linguistics Summer Scholarships through the ANU College of the Arts and Social Sciences. Applications close on 31st August, with application information available from: Information about the research activities expected of AIATSIS Summer Scholars is detailed below.

Under the supervision of the Language Research Fellow, ANU Linguistics Summer Scholars will work on research projects to add value to the collection of a specific language collection in the AIATSIS Archive, as well as participate in the general activities of the AIATSIS Language Program.

'Adding value' to a language collection will involve transcribing and annotating language recordings, adding to the metadata, identifying analytical issues in the language and/or the data set and reporting on these as well as communicating with the relevant language community about the work being undertaken.

Applicants may choose to identify a specific collection to work on, or, they may prefer to be assigned a collection by the Language Research Fellow. Applicants should indicate in their application whether they have already identified a collection to work on. Successful completion of the following linguistics subject areas at second/third-year level is desired: phonetics/phonology, Australian Aboriginal languages. Indigenous applicants are especially encouraged to apply.

Sarah Cutfield

News from the Language and Culture Research Group at the Cairns Institute, James Cook University

Grants and Awards

Dr Mark Post, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at LCRG (CI, JCU) has been awarded a fieldwork grant from the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) 'A documentation of the Upper Belt variety of Minyong (Adi), Arunachal Pradesh, North East India'

Yankee Modi, a PhD student at LCRG (CI, JCU) has been awarded a fieldwork grant from the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) 'Documentation of Milang, an endangered Tibeto-Burman language of North East India'

Professor Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald has been awarded a Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany), to be taken up at the Institut für Afrikanistik, University of Cologne (2010-12). During the first period of her research stay in Cologne in October-December 2010, she will give a number of key-note addresses and organize a workshop on perception and cognition jointly with Professor Anne Storch.

Two members of the LCRG were awarded prizes at the Bright Ideas Competition 2010, Faculty of Arts, Education and Social Sciences:

Sihong Zhang for his entry 'All of Us Know Who We Are, But The Namuyis… --To identify an unrecognized ethnic group beginning from linguistic fieldwork'
Dr Mike Tianqiao Lu for his entry 'Must Soul be lost when Meat is attained?'

PhD Students starting at LCRG in 2010

Yankee Modi (from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi) started her PhD course in March 2010 working on 'The cultural and environmental shaping of Milang language'. She has successfully presented her confirmation seminar.

Gerda (Dineke) Schokkin (from the University of Amsterdam) started her PhD course in May 2010 working on 'A reference grammar of Paluai, the language of the Baluan island of the Manus province of Papua New Guinea'.

Sihong Zhang (from Anhui University of Traditional Chinese Medicine) started his PhD course in July 2010 working on a previously undocumented language of Papua New Guinea.

Cairns Institute Distinguished Visiting Fellows

Associate Professor Catherine Travis (May-August), of the University of New Mexico, is an expert in discourse analysis, with emphasis on corpus development and variation. She will work on interaction between Romance languages spoken by minority immigrant groups in English-speaking countries, and English as the major language, focussing specifically on syntactic features such as the omission or retention of first person subject.

Professor Lourens de Vries (July to September), of the Free University Amsterdam, is a leading expert on the languages and cultures of New Guinea. He is writing an account of the dozen languages belonging to the Awyu-Ndumut family of Papua, their ethnic backgrounds, contact patterns and grammatical structures, paying particular attention to correlations between language, environment and cultural patterns.

Dr Henry Y. Chang (July-October), of Academia Sinica, Taiwan, is an expert on indigenous languages and cultures of Taiwan, with a particular focus on Tsou. He plans a monograph on grammatical properties of verbs and their arguments across Formosan languages, exploring the ways in which different classes of verbs can be understood in the light of their cognitive underpinnings, also looking at categorization of noun arguments, and the issue of case marking.

Professor Anvita Abbi (October–January 2011), Professor of Linguistics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, is a leading expert on anthropological linguistics of South Asia, having worked on languages from five families. She plans to write a full account of the Great Andamanese language (and its cultural milieu), based on the copious (but uneven) early materials and her own fieldwork with the last eight semi-speakers.

Linguistic seminars hosted by LCRG within the Cairns Institute

Nicholas Evans (Linguistics, ANU), 'The Languages of Southern New Guinea: an unexplored hotspot', Wednesday 23 June 2010, 10.00-11.30 a.m.
Abstract: In this talk I will introduce the linguistic situation in Southern New Guinea, a neglected, complex and fascinating area - giving an idea of the cultural dynamics of this region at the intersection of three nations (Australia, PNG and Indonesia), and an introduction to the many families of the region, what they are like structurally, and the relations of phylogeny and areality that hold between them.

Catherine E. Travis (University of New Mexico and CI), jointly with Rena Torres Cacoullos (Pennsylvania State University), 'Prosody in discourse: The patterning of “I”, Friday August 6, 2010, Time: 3.00pm - 5.00pm
Abstract: Pitch accented, or stressed, I is generally considered to be a marker of contrast as in the following example... I* would let him run editorial. I* would let him do anything he wanted to do in editorial. (H) They clipped his wings. They wouldn't let him do anything. (SBCSAE Cuz, 1434-1448). Despite this widely held assumption, no empirical test of the function of pitch accent on I has been conducted to date. In this paper, we present a multivariate analysis of the linguistic conditioning of pitch accent on I, based on distribution and co-occurrence patterns of 2,000 tokens of I extracted from the Santa Barbara Corpus of Spoken American English. We test two distinct operationalizations of contrast (Myhill and Xing 1996; Sun and Givón 1985), and demonstrate that while neither of these operationalizations can fully explain the patterning, they do point to certain factors that do play a role, such as negation, switching from you to I and turn initial position. Alongside these factors, we also observe effects for priming (or repetition of previous form, as in the example above) and distance (where greater distance between coreferential mentions favors pitch accent). We conclude that a confluence of lexical, structural and discourse factors offers the best account of pitch accents on I.

Henry Y. Chang (Academia Sinica and CI), 'Argument realization and marking in Tsou', Friday September 3, 2010, Time: 3.00pm - 5.00pm
Abstract: This talk demonstrates how arguments are grammatically represented and marked in Tsou. Tsou is an Austronesian language spoken in the mountainous area of central-southern Taiwan. I will first sketch the Tsou grammar, including its word order, case marking, tense/aspect/mood, grammatical voice, etc. and then narrow down to the theme of the talk – its argument realization and marking. In particular, I show that in Tsou, (i) arguments do not surface as direct object at all: they either occur as ‘subjects’ or obliques; (ii) agents are almost always grammatically prominent: they either appear as ‘subjects’ or genitives, but not as obliques; (iii) the theme of a ditransitive verb is marked in the same way as an instrument. I hope that my findings will enhance our understanding of the Tsou grammar and the typology/theory of argument realization as well.

Please note that all the seminars hosted by the Cairns Institute will soon be available electronically at the Cairns Institute website as e-lectures.

Conference Presentations and Outside Lectures

Three members of LCRG presented talks at ALS 2010 (Brisbane, 7-9 July 2010):
Catherine Travis and Rena Torres Cacoullos 'The interaction of general and local patterns in discourse: Pitch accented I'
Mark Post: 'Topographical deixis from the Himalayas to Far North Queensland'
Yankee Modi: 'Cut verbs in Milang (Tibeto-Burman, North East India)'

Anne Schwarz presented a talk 'The Reference-Modification Interface in Adjectives' at Amazonicas III in Bogota, Colombia (19-24 April 2010).

Alexandra Aikhenvald presented a talk 'The social life of a language: will Manambu survive?' at the International Conference on Sociolinguistics, Moscow, 20-16 June.

As part of the Colloquium 'Ethnography: Interactive Research and Reciprocity', 24-25 July 2010 (organized by Ass.Prof Rosita Henry and Professor Ton Otto, CI), two members of LCRG presented talks:
R. M. W. Dixon ' In the nick of time: Recording languages and then returning them'
Alexandra Aikhenvald A story of love and debt: The give and the take of linguistic fieldwork’

Catherine Travis will present a seminar at the ANU (late August) , entitled 'Convergence via code-switching? Spanish Yo and English I in New Mexico'

Lourens De Vries will present two lectures at the ANU, 20 August 2010:
'From clause conjoining to clause chaining in the Ndumut languages of Indonesian West-Papua'
'Speaking of clans. Language in Awyu-Ndumut communities of Indonesian West Papua'


As a result of joint efforts joint efforts by Professor Kenneth M. Sumbuk (PVC, UPNG) and Alexandra Aikhenvald, a conjoint research degree programm between JCU and UPNG is now in operation

Alexandra Aikhenvald is co-organizing a Research Forum 'PNG/Pacific connections' (6-8 September, JCU), as part of JCU's celebrations of the 35th Anniversary of PNG's Independence.

Alexandra Aikhenvald organized a panel 'How to choose a research topic for a higher degree student' within the framework of lunchtime panels established by Graduate Research School at JCU, with participation of Dr Mark Post and Prof R M W Dixon. The presentations received a highly positive feedback.

Books Published

A. Y. Aikhenvald. 2010. Language contact in Amazonia. Paperback edition of 2002, with revisions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

—. 2010. The Manambu language of East Sepik, Papua New Guinea. Paperback edition with corrections. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

—. 2010. Imperatives and commands. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (due September)

R. M. W. Dixon. 2010. A grammar of Yidiñ. Paperback reissue of 1977 hardback. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

—. 2011. A grammar of Jarawara, from southern Amazonia. Paperback edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

—. R. M. W. Dixon and A. Y. Aikhenvald. 2011 (eds). The semantics of clause linking. Paperback edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pan, Chia-jung. Forthcoming. The grammatical realization of temporal expressions in Tsou. Munich: Lincom Europa.

Post, Mark. 2010. Galo-English dictionary, with English-Galo glosses. Galo Welfare society.

— et al. Forthcoming. Proceedings of NIELS. North-east Indian Linguistics. Foundation Books, Cambridge University Press.

Ines Fiedler and Anne Schwarz (eds). 2010. The expression of information structure. A documentation of its diversity in Africa. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

R. M. W. Dixon's monumental Basic Linguistic Theory — volumes 1 and 2 — has been reprinted after only nine months since publication

Round-table meetings of LCRG

Meetings of LCRG members, held each week throughout the year, are open to anyone interested in linguistic topics. We jointly pick a topic of general appeal, with a number of people making presentations with respect to a language of which they have first-hand knowledge.

The current round-table topic is: 'Linguistic expression of perception and cognition'

Position paper was presented by Alexandra Aikhenvald on 14 July 2010, followed by presentations by Catherine Travis on 'Perception and cognition and Spanish', by Lourens De Vries 'Linguistic expression of perception and cognition in Awyu-Ndumut languages of West Papua', by Chia-jung Pan on 'Linguistic expression of perception in Lha'alhua and Tsou, two Formosan languages'. Further presentations will include Henry Chang's on Tsou and other Formosan languages, Mike Lu's on Maonan, Mark Post on Galo and others.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

Alexandra (Sasha) Aikhenvald

News from the Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity

The Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity ( is pleased to announce that our funding under the Maintenance of Indigenous Languages and Records (MILR) Program has been extended for a further year, with a significant increase in our 2010-2011 grant allocation. This grant will enable RNLD to continue our resource development and international outreach, and to begin piloting the Documenting and Revitalizing Indigenous Languages program in a number of Aboriginal communities and organisations.

RNLD's membership continues to grow and we currently link 530 people across 43 countries through our discussion list and Facebook group. In Melbourne, RNLD hosts a monthly Linguistics in the Pub (LIPS) gathering of language activists and linguists (see the Events page on our web site for details). Resources for language documentation and conservation are frequently added to RNLD's web site and the Languages in the News section is updated daily.

Alongside our Australian activities, RNLD's officers continue their international work. Directors Margaret Florey and Nick Thieberger recently taught several workshops at InField 2010 at the University of Oregon (, including Grant writing, Language activism, Data management and archiving, and Principles of database design. Margaret represents RNLD on the Board of Linguapax, the UNESCO Center of Catalonia, and will be attending a delegates' meeting in Barcelona in September. RNLD's Public Officer Anthony Jukes has recently been involved in training for language documentation at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

Margaret Florey


Aboriginal placenames: Naming and re-naming the Australian landscape

The book Aboriginal placenames: Naming and re-naming the Australian landscape, edited by Harold Koch and Luise Hercus and published in October 2009 by ANU E Press as Aboriginal History Monograph 19 (, was launched in Canberra 22 May by the then prime minister Kevin Rudd. A subsequent media release from the ANU resulted in 14 radio interviews by the editors and a story in the Canberra Times p. 1. ANU E Press reports a total of over 21000 downloads of the volume in the period January to June 2010.

Harold Koch

Upcoming Conferences

The Tenth International Workshop: Possession and Ownership

Organised by Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and R.M.W. Dixon (supported by ICA Programme, The Academy of the Humanities)

To be held at The Cairns Institute, James Cook University, Cairns, 27 September - 2 October 2010

Auditors are welcome, at no fee (but note that we are unable to arrange accommodation for auditors). Anyone is welcome to attend, asking searching questions and making comments as appropriate A hard copy of the Position Paper can be supplied on request. (write to

Monday, 27 September in building E2, room 113/113a
9.00 Opening of Workshop
9.10 Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (CI, JCU) 'Possession and ownership: a cross-linguistic perspective'
10.40 Coffee
11.10 Anne Storch (University of Cologne) 'Possession in Jukun (Benue-Congo family)'
12.40 Lunch
2.00 Felix Ameka (University of Leiden) 'Possession in Likpe (Kwa family)'
3.30 Coffee
4.00 Christa Koenig (University of Cologne) 'Possession in !Xu (Khoisan)'
5.30 Finish

Tuesday, 28 September in building E2, room 113/113a
9.00 Isabelle Bril (CNRS, Paris) 'Possession and ownership in Nêlêmwa (Oceanic branch of Austronesian)'
10.30 Coffee
11.00 Gloria Gravelle (Free University, Amsterdam) 'Possession in Moskona (Papuan region)'
12.30 Lunch
2.00 Yongxian Luo (University of Melbourne) 'Possession in Chinese, with notes on Zhuang (Tai family)'
3.30 Coffee
4.00 Tianqiao (Mike) Lu (CI, JCU) 'Possession in Maonan (Tibeto-Burman)'
5.30 Finish

Wednesday 29 September — free day

Thursday 30 September in Library, Room B1.031
9.00 Lev Michael (University of California, Berkeley) 'Possession in Nanti (Arawak family)'
10.30 Coffee
11.00 Anne Schwarz (CI, JCU) 'Possession in Buli (Gur family)'
12.30 Lunch
2.00 Rosita Henry (JCU) 'Being and belonging: exchange relations and land ownership in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea'
3.30 Coffee
4.00 Michael Wood (JCU) 'Possessing the wind: Kamula property interests in the new carbon economy'
5.30 Finish

Friday 1 October in building E2, room 113/113a
9.00 Mark Post (CI, JCU) 'Possession in Galo (Tibeto-Burman)'
10.30 Coffee
Professor Sandra Harding, Vice-Chancellor and President of James Cook University, will launch Alexandra Aikhenvald's new book Imperatives and commands, Oxford University Press (to be published in September 2010).
11.00 Zygmunt Frajzyngier (University of Colorado at Boulder) 'Possession in Wandala (Chadic subgroup of Afro-asiatic)'
12.30 Lunch
2.00 Alan Dench (University of Western Australia) 'Possession and ownership in Martuthunira (Australian)'
3.30 Coffee
4.00 Group discussion
5.30 Finish

Saturday 2 October in building E2, room 113/113a NOTE: 9.30 start
9.30 R. M. W. Dixon (CI, JCU) 'What can we conclude?'
11.00 Coffee
11.30 Group discussion and publication plans
1.00 Finish
Alexandra (Sasha) Aikhenvald

Australian Languages Weekend/Workshop

A reminder to all Australianists that ALW (Australian Languages Weekend/Workshop) will be held 11-14 March 2011 on North Stradbroke Island just off Brisbane.

The venue will be the UQ Moreton Bay Research Station.

A call for papers will announced towards the end of the year. For the moment, make sure you pencil in these dates.

We look forward to seeing everyone there!

Felicity and Myf

Felicity Meakins

The Third “Puliima” National Indigenous Languages Information Technology Forum

The Third “Puliima” National Indigenous Languages Information Technology Forum will be held in Brisbane at the State Library of Queensland on the 11th to 13th May 2011. The forum has a strong community focus and is aimed at linking people with new technologies and skills, while encouraging the development of supportive networks between the communities involved.

More information will be available soon at Puliima is coordinated by the Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre in Newcastle. Information about previous forums can be viewed at

Daryn McKenny

AFMLTA 2011 - 18th Biennial Conference of the Australian Federation of Modern Language Teacher Associations

6-9 July, 2011 (

Call for papers
Deadline: 31 October 2010

AFMLTA 2011 will be held in Darwin, in Australia's top end in July 2011. This is an exciting opportunity both to discuss issues in languages education and see the uniqueness of the Australian continent.

The themes of AFMLTA 2011 are

  • Enrich: Linguistic and Intercultural Understanding
  • Consolidate: Teaching, Learning and Assessment
  • Aspire: Excellence in Pedagogy, ICT use and Future Focus

Possible suggested topics for papers and workshops:

  • Innovations in Language Theory and Methodology
  • Language, culture and learning
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Teaching in the global classroom
  • Resources and Materials
  • Developing a Professional Learning culture
  • Teaching in a multilevel classroom
  • Professional Standards
  • Linking language classrooms with community
  • Intercultural language learning
  • Integrating technology into the language classroom
  • Australian (National) Curriculum
  • Teaching and learning of Indigenous languages
  • Bilingual/immersion and content-based learning
  • Heritage languages

Presentation types
There will be 3 types of presentations:

  • Full papers (30 minutes plus 10 minutes question time) - Full papers usually describe substantial work or projects which relate to one or more of the conference themes. In general, full papers should be situated within relevant literature and proposal should therefore include a short bibliography
  • Short papers (15 minutes plus 5 minutes question time) - Short papers are useful for sharing preliminary work or work in progress which relates to one or more of the conference themes
  • Workshops (1 hour and 20 minutes) - Workshops are generally interactive sessions in which presenters may like to share examples practical classroom pedagogy


Preferably, submissions should be made via our website ( Should this not be possible, submissions can be sent to following the format below.

Submissions in either word or pdf format are accepted.

Submissions should:

  • be typed in 11 point, single-spaced
  • include title of presentation in upper case and centred
  • include the author(s) affiliation and contact information in lower case, two lines below the title, centred
  • include an abstract not exceeding 250 words
  • include a one-paragraph biography of author/s
  • specify to which of the conference theme/s the submission relates
  • indicate any audio-visual equipment and/or whether Internet access is required
  • for full papers, identify the desire for possible publication as a refereed paper

Submission dates

All submissions must be received by October 31, 2010. We regret that late submissions may not be accepted.

Selection of submissions

All submissions will be given equal consideration by the Academic Chair and a small selection committee for inclusion in the conference program on the basis of the following criteria:

  • relevance to the conference theme/s
  • appropriateness of content for conference program and audience
  • contribution to research, discussion, pedagogy, as appropriate

At the selection committee¹s discretion a proposal may be accepted in a different category than indicated by the author/s (e.g. a full paper may be accepted as a short paper)

We will send notification of (un)successful selection by November 30, 2010

For further information contact

Matthew Absalom

Jobs, grants, and scholarships

Director of Research, AIATSIS

AIATSIS is seeking applications for ongoing appointment to a position of Research Director. This vacancy is a new position, with responsibility for research relating to Indigenous health and wellbeing; education, history and cultural transmission; and language arts and cultural expression.

Responsibilities will include defining future research directions; providing academic leadership and mentoring; further developing networks and collaborations with other organisations; and management of resources, including securing external funding and grants. The Director is also expected to pursue a personal research program.

An ideal candidate would have an outstanding research record relevant to the areas of responsibility, together with proven high-level management, communication and negotiation skills.

Further information on this vacancy is provided in the position description, available from our website The position is located in Canberra. Assistance with relocation costs may be provided to appointees from outside Canberra.

The salary for this position is negotiable between $110,000pa and $130,000pa, plus standard benefits including superannuation and annual leave, as set out in the AIATSIS Agency Agreement 2007-11, which is available at

Further information on this position can be provided by Dr Luke Taylor, Deputy Principal (email, phone 02 6246 1118)

Closing Date: 21 August 2010

Applicants must address the selection criteria which include the ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of Indigenous cultures and the issues affecting Indigenous Australians today, and an ability to communicate effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Institute values a skilled and diverse workforce to meet the needs of the organisation in the promotion of knowledge and understanding of Australian Indigenous cultures, past and present. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are encouraged to apply.

Sarah Cutfield

Cairns Institute PhD Scholarships

Unlocking a tropical language: focus on Papua New Guinea

There is an outstanding opportunity for a well-qualified and socially motivated student of linguistics to take up a PhD scholarship within the exciting new Cairns Institute at James Cook University. New Guinea is home to the greatest linguistic diversity in the world. There are many fascinating languages with intricate grammatical structures which mirror the social, economic and geographical environment in which they are spoken. All are threatened by the encroaching tide of globalization. Maintaining and documenting their language is a key factor for community well-being and sustainable development. Those demanding urgent attention include languages of Manus Province, the Sepik area and the Huon Peninsula.

For more information contact Professor Alexandra Aikhenvald, Research leader (People and Societies of the Tropics) at the Cairns Institute and the School of Arts and Social Sciences (

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. Information for the Newsletter should be sent to the Editor, Andrea Schalley ( 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 Andrea 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.