Newsletter February 2014

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.


Andrea Schalley

ALS 2012: Proceedings now available

The Proceedings of the 2012 Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society Conference are now available at

John Henderson

News from the Australian National University

News from the Linguistics Department of the College of Asia & The Pacific (CAP) have been compiled in our newsletter available online:
Our recent newsletter (the first of 2014!) includes: 
  • announcement of the Center of Excellence on the Dynamics of Language;
  • report on the third Workshop on the Languages of Papua held in January in West Papua, Indonesia;
  • details on the forthcoming workshop on the development of crowd sourcing smartphone and tablet apps for Australian language documentation;
  • reports on recent fieldwork, new grants and projects, as well as publication and presentations by our staff and students;
  • and much more!
We hope you will enjoy reading our departmental newsletter. Previous editions are also available via our department's website.
Fanny Cottet

News from Macquarie University

For news from Linguistics at Macquarie University, please go to

Verna Rieschild

News from the University of Queensland

Grants received

Mark Nielsen (UQ Psychology) and Ilana Mushin were awarded an ARC Discovery Grant "The Developmental Origins of Tool Innovation".

Felicity Meakins was awarded a DECRA for the project "Out of the Mouths of Babes: The Role of Indigenous Children in Language Change".

Ilana Mushin and Rod Gardner (Griffith) were awarded $20,000 from the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment for a project
to focus on Indigenous children in a multicultural urban classroom "Language and Cultural Diversity in Early Years Classrooms".

Kari Sullivan and Sally Butler (UQ Art History) in collaboration with the Queensland Royal Art Society were awarded a Collaboration and Industry
Engagement Fund grant for their project "Metaphor in image and word: correspondences in the conceptual metaphors underlying artworks and their
linguistic descriptions".

Books published

Meakins, Felicity & Rachel Nordlinger. 2014. A Grammar of Bilinarra: An Australian Aboriginal Language of the Northern Territory. Berlin: Mouton
de Gruyter.

An innovative feature of this book is the provision of sound files for example sentences, allowing the reader access to the language itself.

This book will be launched by Mary Laughren at the 13th Australian Languages Workshop in Kioloa in early March:


Thuy Nga Nguyen earned her PhD in Linguistics under the supervision of Kari Sullivan and Erich Round. Nguyen's thesis "Language Contact and English Borrowings in a Vietnamese Magazine for Teenagers" is the first diachronic study of English borrowings in Vietnamese. The study examines youth language in a magazine over a period of almost 10 years, and finds that the level of English borrowings in various semantic domains is influenced by world events, cultural and political changes, and alterations to the focus and structure of the magazine itself.

Other news

Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble's 2014 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream,  directed by Rob Pensalfini, has been nominated for seven Matilda
Awards (Southeast Queensland¹s theatre industry awards), including Best Independent Production, Best Director, Best Male Actor in a Supporting
Role, Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role, and Best Physical Design.

Felicity Meakins

News from James Cook University (Language and Culture Research Centre)

New members of LCRC

Nicola (Nick) Piper, from the Australian National University, will be working on a comprehensive grammar of Meryam Mir, the language of the eastern Torres Strait, starting her course in May 2014.

Tahnee Innes was awarded a First-class Honours BA in Anthropology at JCU, with a thesis titled 'Networked Politics of Place on Goolaraboloo-Jabirr Jabirr Country'. She is working as a Research Assistant at LCRC within the framework of the ARC Linkage Project 'Land, language and heritage', collecting personal histories and cultural information about the Jirrbal people of North Queensland.

LCRC Visiting Fellows

Professor Dr Lourens de Vries is a winner of an International Collaborative Award and Partner Investigator within the ARC Discovery Project 'How languages differ and why' (Chief Investigators: Aikhenvald and Dixon), and member of the International Consultative Board of LCRC. He is Professor of General Linguistics and Bible Translation at the Free University of Amsterdam, and an expert in description, typology and history of Papuan languages of New Guinea, with special focus on the province of Papua. He will be visiting LCRC from 1 July until 1 September 2014. During his stay, he will be working on a book with the working title 'The Greater Awyu language family of West Papua. History, Typology, Diversity'.

Dr Azeb Amha, of the University of Leiden, an expert on Omotic and Cushitic languages, will be a Visiting Fellow at LCRC in June-September 2014. She will be working on various issues in Omotic languages of her expertise, concentrating on aspects of noun classification systems in Omotic languages, within the framework of the ARC DP 'The world through the prism of language: a cross-linguistic view of genders, noun classes and classifiers'.

Dr René van den Berg, Linguistics Consultant of SIL at Ukarumpa, PNG, and member of the International Consultative Board of LCRC is an expert on Austronesian languages. He will be visiting LCRC in July-August 2014, to continue his research on pronominal systems in Western Oceanic languages, with an aim of writing a monograph 'Pronominal systems in Western Oceanic: typology and diachrony'.

Professor Danila Zuljan Kumar, Head of the Research Station at the Fran Ramovš Institute of Slovenian language (Nova Gorica, Slovenia), is an expert in Slovenian dialects and language contact between Slovenian, Frioulian and Italian. He will be an Honorary Visiting Fellow at LCRC in July 2014, working on issues of contact-induced change.

Katherine Bolaños, a PhD student at MPI (Leipzig) and the University of Texas (Austin), is working on a comprehensive grammar of Kakua, a Makú language of north-west Amazonia. She has undertaken pioneering work on Cabiyari, a previously undescribed Arawak language spoken in the Colombian Vaupés. She will spend six weeks at LCRC in July-August 2014, working on the Cabiyari materials, jointly with Alexandra Aikhenvald.

Awards and honours

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald was selected to receive a 2013 James Cook University Award for Excellence, in the category of Research and/or Research leadership. The Award for Excellence recognises the outstanding contribution made towards the achievement of the University's Strategic Intent and the outcomes of the University Plan.

We are delighted to report that Dr Chia-jung Pan, a former PhD student with us at JCU (completed 2012), has just been awarded the 2013 Taiwan Languages and Literature Society PhD Thesis of the Year Award and 2013 Linguistic Society of Taiwan PhD Thesis of the Year Award, for his PhD 'A grammar of Saaroa, an Austronesian language from Taiwan'. This is a major honour, awarded to him by two main linguistic societies in Taiwan. Based on his achievements, Chia-jung has just been appointed to a highly prestigious position of Young Academic Leader of Nankai University within the School of Literature.

PhD completions

  • Dr Dineke Schokkin, 'A grammar of Paluai, the language of Baluan island, Papua New Guinea' (February 2014)
  • Dr Sihong Zhang, 'A grammar of Ersu' (December 2013)

Forthcoming Activities

Introduction to Linguistic Field Methods

Intensive block course for postgraduate students
Convenor: Hannah Sarvasy
Monday 24 March and Tuesday 25 March 2014
The Cairns Institute, Room D3-003 CI Board Room
Cost: FREE

Could it be vital to incorporate learning a strange language into your anthropological/biological/geological/other fieldwork? You are faced with people at your field site who speak a language different from your own: how to proceed? There are many compelling reasons to incorporate understanding of local language into anthropological and other fieldwork. Every language encodes meanings differently. A researcher's appreciation of local linguistic forms can promote cross-cultural understanding, community cooperation, and project-related morale.

This two-day intensive course is meant for anthropologists and other researchers who conduct fieldwork in areas where non-written and lesser-known languages are spoken. The course introduces students to reasons why competency in the local language could be important to their research, and gives them introductory concrete, practical methods for language learning and linguistic documentation.

Local Workshop on Questions

will commence in March and run for several months. The Initial Orientation will be given by R. M. W. Dixon and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald on 19 March. For details on the first presentation, see below.

Seminars and Workshop presentations

  • Seminar, Wednesday 12 February: Alexandra Aikhenvald – 'Evidentiality: its links with other grammatical categories'
  • Seminar, Wednesday 19 February: Bob Dixon – 'The 'mother-in-law' language style in Dyirbal'
  • Seminar, Wednesday 26 February: Cassy Nancarrow – 'Representing the languages of Mornington Island in picture books'
  • OLD Local Workshop Finale, Wednesday 5 March: 18. Alexandra Aikhenvald – 'Demonstratives and directionals: Summing up'
  • Seminar, Wednesday 12 March: Kasia Wojtylak – 'The adjective class in Witoto Murui'        
  • NEW Local Workshop on QUESTIONS, Wednesday 19 March: 1. Bob Dixon & Alexandra Aikhenvald – 'Initial orientation'
  • Seminar, Wednesday 26 March: Colleen Oates – 'Theorising trickster in myth: a place-based inquiry in Ninggirum (Papuan, PNG)'
  • Local Workshop on Wednesday 2 April: 2. Simon Overall – 'Questions in Aguaruna'
  • Seminar, Wednesday 9 April: Hannah Sarvasy – 'Adjective classes in Nungon'
  • Local Workshop on Wednesday 16 April: 3. Alexandra Aikhenvald – 'Questions in Manambu'
  • Seminar, Wednesday 23 April: Angeliki Alvanoudi – 'The Greek spoken by immigrants in Cairns: preliminary remarks'

Published and forthcoming books

  • Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 2014. The art of grammar: a practical guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. Forthcoming. How gender shapes the world: a linguistic perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. and R. M. W. Dixon. 2014. The grammar of knowledge: a cross-linguistic typology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, xxii, 291 pp.
  • Salminen, Mikko Benjamin. Forthcoming. 2014. Dí/ztè. O zapoteco de San Agustín loxicha, Oaxaca, México. Esbozo gramatical acompañado de cuatro cuentos tradicionales con análisis morfológico y traducción. Lincom Europa, Munich. Languages of the World/Materials 498. 126pp.
  • Sarvasy, Hannah. Forthcoming. 2014. (ed). Non-spatial setting in Finisterre-Huon languages. Special Issue of Language Typology and Universals (STUF).
  • New edition of Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics:
    A typical description of The Concise Oxford dictionary of linguistics, edited by P.H. Matthews reads:
    "This is an outstanding compendium: authoritative, comprehensive, and absolutely up-to-date. The entries are characterized by clarity and sagacity, with a leavening of wit. It is the first port of call for any enquiry about terminology, or the nature of a theoretical concept. The volume continues to be an indispensable tool for linguists of every hue.
    The first edition, published in 1997, sold over 20,000 copies. The second edition, from 2007, has notched up more than 15,000, A revised and expanded third edition is to appear shortly.
    There are short biographies of a number of linguistics scholars, including five who are currently active. Four are brought forward from the previous edition:
    M. A. K. Halliday (1925-)    
    William Labov (1927-)
    Noam Chomsky (1928-)
    John Lyons (1932-)
    A further name has been added for the third edition:
    R. M. W. Dixon (1939-)"

Dyirbal song CD now on web

Associated with the 1996 book Dyirbal song poetry: The oral literature of an Australian rainforest people, by R. M. W. Dixon and Grace Koch (still available from the University of Queensland Press) there was issued a CD featuring 94 of the song performances. This has long been out of print, but the CD (and its accompanying booklet) are now freely available on:

The LCRC Annual Bulletin will soon be available at

Alexandra (Sasha) Aikhenvald

News from the University of Melbourne


We are delighted to announce that Ruth Singer was successful in applying for an ARC DECRA postdoctoral fellowship: What makes a multilingual community? The life of languages at Warruwi community. She is the sole investigator.

PhD completions

Green, Clarence. (2013). 'Corpus-based explorations of combined clause hierarchy, diachronic syntax and discourse-pragmatic coherence.' Primary supervisor: Jean Mulder.

Hamzah, Hilmi. (2013). 'The acoustics and perception of the word-initial singleton/geminate contrast in Kelantan Malay.' Primary supervisor: Janet Fletcher.

Brett Baker

News from La Trobe University

A diverse group of La Trobe University staff who all contribute to research in linguistics have been awarded the funding to create a Discipline Research Program (DRP). DRPs are part of the new La Trobe Research Focus Area scheme that will build on the university's existing and potential strengths ( With an annual budget of $100,000, the Linguistics DRP will assist in maintaining and building La Trobe's long-standing research strength in Linguistics, with a focus on five subprograms: language documentation, comparative syntax, sociolinguistic variation and change, sign languages and gesture, and phonetics.

David Bradley is a member of the new Centre of Excellence based at ANU. He has received a grant from the UNESCO Comité International Permanent des Linguistes to run a workshop on the sociolinguistics of language endangerment, to be held at Yunnan Nationalities University in October 2014. He has also been invited to give keynote presentations at the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society meeting in Yangon in May, and at the 47th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics in Kunming in October

After a year based in the teaching program, Adam Schembri has be re-appointed part-time director of the Centre for Research on Language Diversity (CRLD) at La Trobe University. Adam also was awarded an ARC Discovery Project grant in the last round with Trevor Johnston at Macquarie University (and Kearsy Cormier at University College London and Onno Crasborn at Radboud University in Nijmegen). This project will use corpus-based and experimental studies to compare pointing signs in three sign languages with pointing gestures used by hearing non-signers in order to explore the relationship between gesture and language in sign and speech.

We were sad to see the departure in late 2013 of Simon Overall for a postdoctoral fellowship at James Cook University, but we wish him well in his new position. Simon will remain associated with CRLD by taking up an honorary position with us.

CRLD is currently hosting a visit from Associate Professor Sharon Yunming Shan from the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou. Sharon is interested in sociolinguistic variation in Cantonese grammar, and is currently working on a book project on this topic.

Alexandra Marley's MA thesis on language use amongst the Qaqet Baining ('A sociolinguistic study of language choices in an ethnolinguistic minority of Papua New Guinea') was passed without amendments.

Adele Gregory has submitted her PhD thesis entitled 'Laryngeal aspects of infant language acquisition'. Adele is currently based at ANU, where she has teaching and postdoctoral work.

Casey Tait and Sally Bowman, graduates of our Honours program in Linguistics, have both been awarded PhD scholarships. Casey is planning to work on a topic related to the acquisition of Australian English, while Sally is also interested in aspects of sociolinguistic variation in Australian English.

Adam Schembri


Special Issue 'Jewish Language Contact', International Journal of the Sociology of Language (IJSL)

Ghil'ad Zuckerman is guest editor of the Special Issue 'Jewish Language Contact' in the International Journal of the Sociology of Language (IJSL) (Issue 226, 2014).

Ghil'ad Zuckermann

Upcoming Conferences

Workshop: Engaging and enhancing the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages

ANU Canberra, Friday 7 March 2014

To coincide with the 13th annual Australian Languages Workshop at ANU Kioloa, the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages project team is inviting interested linguists and language workers to a workshop to explore various possibilities for engagement with the resources in the archive and its ongoing development.

The Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages ARC LIEF project has been digitising materials published in bilingual education programs in Indigenous languages of the Northern Territory since the mid 1970s. The open access website at currently includes over 800 items in over 20 languages, with another 2000 items awaiting permission from owners to make public.

A second round of funding has been secured from the ARC for four key strands of development: -

  1. the ‘search and rescue’ of additional materials in NT languages produced outside the bilingual education program;
  2. academic engagement to connect interested researchers with language authorities in the NT to create opportunities for collaborative research;
  3. local level engagement to encourage local knowledge and language authorities to supervise development and use of their own collections of language materials; and
  4. classroom engagement to explore how the resources in the archive can be used in classrooms.

We invite linguists and language workers interested in exploring opportunities to engage with and enhance the materials in the Living Archive in Stage 2. This work will include

  • identifying, sourcing, gaining permission for, and uploading materials from languages not currently represented in the archive (published or unpublished works in NT languages by Indigenous authors), and
  • identifying and developing opportunities for engaging academics and their students for  collaborative research work with language authorities in communities.

The workshop will be held in the ground floor theatrette (2.02) in the Sir Roland Wilson building on the ANU Canberra campus from 9 am to 12pm on Friday 7 March, 2014. All welcome. The event is free but please register for catering purposes. Registration will be from the Australian Languages Workshop website The event will coincide with the launch of the Living Archive website the previous evening.

For further information contact

The Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages Stage 2 is funded through an ARC LIEF (Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities) fund LE140100063, as a partnership between Charles Darwin University, Australian National University, Northern Territory Department of Education, Batchelor Institute for Indigenous Tertiary Education, the Northern Territory Library and the NT Catholic Education Office.

Cathy Bow

Jobs, grants, and scholarships

PhD position – Linguistics, School of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Melbourne

We are seeking applications for a PhD project attached to the Australian Research Council-funded project 'Learning to speak White-fella way' (CIs Brett Baker & Rikke Bundgaard-Nielsen).

'Learning to speak White-fella way' is a fieldwork-based experimental project which investigates first-language influence on the acquisition of English by speakers of Kriol and traditional Australian languages such as Wubuy.

We seek a PhD student who will adopt an experimental approach to investigate the way children of different ages (with Kriol/Wubuy background) perceive and produce English speech sounds and recognise words in Kriol and English. The project will result in information crucial to closing the educational 'gap' between children in remote indigenous communities and the rest of Australia as it will provide not only 'base-line' competence assessments at school start, but also the extent to which English-language schooling results in successful acquisition of English.

Applicants will need to meet the criteria for candidature in the PhD at Melbourne, and will need to successfully apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA), if domestic, or one of the international scholarships, if from overseas. In addition to that, we are offering a scholarship top-up of $5000/year, plus fieldwork expenses and a stimulating cohort of students involved in fieldwork-based linguistic projects.

The position will be based at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Details on applying for a PhD place at Melbourne are available at

For further information or to apply, contact
Dr Brett Baker
School of Languages and Linguistics
University of Melbourne
Parkville, VIC 3010
03 9035 4687
Brett Baker

Australian Academy of the Humanities – Applications open for grants and awards

The Academy is pleased to announce that 2014 applications for the Academy's award schemes are now open. In particular we wish to draw your attention to a new funding opportunity, the Ernst and Rosemarie Keller Award made possible by the generosity of  the late Academy Fellow, Ernst Keller FAHA and Mrs Rosemarie Keller. Nominations are also now being accepted for the 2014 Crawford Medal. 

Humanities Travelling Fellowships Scheme

The Humanities Travelling Fellowship Scheme offers grants of up to $4,000 to support Australian humanities early career researchers to undertake research overseas, including accessing archives and other research materials and connecting with international researchers and networks.

Publication Subsidy Scheme

The Publication Subsidy Schemes offers grants of up to $3,000 to support the publication of scholarly works of high quality in the Humanities.

The scheme is designed to assist Humanities scholars based in Australia.  This year, an additional $500 is available to one applicant publishing in the field of archaeology through the Sir Frederick and Peter White Fund.

The Ernst and Rosemarie Keller Award

The new Ernst and Rosemarie Keller Award supports the research activities of Australian humanities scholars whose research is concerned with:

  • German history, literature, language, politics or culture, or
  • German contributions to the history, literature, languages, politics or culture of either Australia or the Asia-Pacific region.

One award of $5,000.00 is available.  Applicants may apply for one of the following research activities:

  • Workshops
  • Travelling fellowships for travel within Australia and internationally
  • Masterclasses featuring an internationally renowned research scholar

The R. M. Crawford Medal

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2014 Crawford Medal.  The Crawford Medal is Australia’s most prestigious award for achievement and promise in the humanities.  It is presented biennially to an Australian-based, early-career scholar working and publishing in the humanities, whose publications contribute towards an understanding of the their discipline by the general public.  Nominees must be Australian-based humanities scholars in the early stages of their career (up to five years post-PhD).  

How to apply

Please click on the above links to access the Academy website and information regarding the application/nomination process for each scheme.

Applications for all awards must be submitted by 5:00pm AEST on Thursday 10 April 2014.

Questions concerning these awards should be directed to the Grants Manager:

Diana Eades

The Australian PhD Prize for Innovations in Linguistics

This prize is a continuing prize in Australian linguistics which started in 2013. It is open for PhDs completed and examined since January 1 2013. An amount of $500 will be awarded to the best PhD (judged by the assessor - email below) demonstrating methodological and theoretical innovations in Australian linguistics, particularly those NOT focussing on grammar writing and those NOT using well-established theories in Australia. Of particular interest are studies in toponymy, language and ethnography, language and musicology, linguistic ecology, language identity and self, kinship relationships, island languages, spatial descriptions in language, Australian creoles, and language contact. Creative and excitingly written PhDs which push the boundaries of the discipline are particularly welcomed. The PhD should have been awarded by an Australian university or other institution but not necessarily be about Australian languages and cultures.

Email a pdf copy of the full PhD to by 31 March 2014 (PhDs still under examination may also be considered). The prize winner will be announced within one month of the deadline and all applicants will contacted about the decision.

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 is time to contribute material; if you wish to be added to that list, send Andrea an email.

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 of your copy of the Australian Journal of Linguistics. Membership matters are handled on behalf of the Society by Taylor & Francis, the publishers of the Australian Journal of Linguistics. If you wish to join the Society or make an alteration to your existing membership details please contact the Customer Service at Taylor & Francis on +61 (0)3 8842-2413 or at