Newsletter May 2003

ALS Newsletter May 2003

ALS 03/2, May 2003

From the editor

Welcome to the May 2003 issue of the Australian Linguistic Society Newsletter. Things to particularly note in this issue are whether you're a financial member or not (click here to check!), and that the ALS Conference will be held in Newcastle this year, and abstracts are due by 8 June (click here for details).

Thanks, Tim Curnow,


News and information

Is Your Name On This List????

If so, then you have no need to worry; you are a financial member of ALS until December of the year following your name. If your name is NOT on the list, then you are currently unfinancial and should contact the treasurer, Doug Absalom (e-mail, as soon as possible, particularly in view of the fact that the next edition of AJL is about to be sent out. Due to increasing costs, journals can no longer be distributed to members whose fees are too far in arrears. To ensure that you continue to receive the journal and your electronic information, please contact Doug to find out about your membership status. He is very understanding of busy linguists who have little time for such worldly matters as paying membership fees.

Names removed

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Vale Doug Huxley

Doug Huxley, one of the very early members of the Australian Linguistic Society, passed away peacefully on April 26th, aged 70, and was laid to rest in Ryhope Cemetery on May 1st. Doug, a generative Phonologist, had completed his Ph.D. in 1977. He and Doug Absalom received the first doctorates to be awarded from the full Department of Linguistics at the University of Newcastle. At that time, Doug Huxley was promoted to Deputy Principal of the Newcastle College of Advanced Education, an institution of which he was later to become Principal. He had been treasurer of the ALS for several years prior to that, but on his promotion to Deputy Principal, he persuaded Doug Absalom to accept the treasurer's job, which the latter Doug is still doing, 26 years later. When the College amalgamated with the University, Doug Huxley became Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the new institution and saw the 'marriage of convenience' through its early rocky years. He retained a strong interest in the operation of ALS and in Aboriginal Languages, being instrumental in establishing the Aboriginal Education Centre at the College and maintaining its strong profile within the University. Doug was noted for his down-to-earth approach, his foresight and his productivity, among many other things. As a senior administrator, he insisted on maintaining contact with his staff and even in the busiest times, was always at morning tea to listen to the local gossip. He was an excellent pianist, as well as an insightful linguist, and was a very good friend to his many colleagues. He will be missed.

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News from the University of Sydney

A recently submitted thesis is: Barbara Jones, A Grammar of Wangkajunga : A Language of the Great Sandy Desert of North Western Australia

Wangkajunga is an Australian language spoken by approximately 160 people now living in the southern Kimberley region of north Western Australia. The Wangkajunga people live in a number of communities in the town of Fitzroy Crossing and the adjacent Fitzroy River valley. They began to migrate to this region sometime in the early 1970s from their homelands in the Great Sandy Desert.

Wangkajunga is a Pama-Nyungan language classified as belonging to the Wati sub-group of the Western Desert group of languages. The Western Desert is a vast area of land and the differentiation between languages in the area and their geographical location has been the focus of a number of linguistic and anthropological studies. Although several studies have been made of the southern languages of the Western Desert this is the first detailed grammar of a language of the northern group. Wangkajunga is notable for its rich case marking and very complex system of cross-referencing bound pronouns.

By comparisons with other languages of the Western Desert the study highlights some of the features that group the northern Western Desert languages and distinguish them from those in the south. It also draws some comparisons with the northern neighbours of the Western Desert belonging to the Marrngu and Ngumpin groups.

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News from the ANU

A number of postgraduate students from the ANU Department of Linguistics recently graduated including:

  • Kumara Henadeerage, thesis title 'Topics in Sinhala syntax', PhD
  • Carol Priestly, thesis title 'The Morphosyntax of Verbs in Koromu (Kesawai), a language of Papua New Guinea', MA
  • Johanna Rendle-Short, thesis title 'Talk and action in the computer science seminar', PhD

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News from Griffith University

From the middle of this year, Tony Liddicoat will replace Jim Sneddon as Head of the School of Languages and Linguistics at Griffith University.

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News from RCLT

Centenary Medal Award

We are proud to announce that Professor Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (Associate Director of RCLT) was recently awarded the Centenary Medal for service to Australian society and the humanities in linguistics and philology. The Centenary Medal marks the achievements of a broad cross section of the Australian community at the commencement of the new century.

International Workshop: Serial verb constructions

To be held at La Trobe University, City Campus (215 Franklin St, Melbourne)from Monday, 9th June 2003 to Saturday 14th June 2003. The full program is available at

Inaugural Special Visiting Fellow

Professor Marianne Mithun, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, is the major expert on the indigenous languages of North America and is a leading typologist, having published seminal work on many topics. She will be a Special Visiting Fellow (sponsored by the Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University) from 3-15 August 2003. She will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) and give a public lecture at La Trobe University on 13 August 2003.

Her talk is entitled 'Alternative worlds in peril: What do we lose when a language disappears?'. The loss of linguistic diversity worldwide is cause for concern not just among local communities and linguists, but among the thinking public as well. Within the field of linguistics there is some intellectual tension between the view that all languages are essentially equivalent, with any differences among them superficial, accidental, and uninteresting, and the view that the differences can be fundamental and what make them interesting. Under the first view, language is considered a direct reflection of a specific, innate, genetic endowment, common to all human beings. The loss of individual languages is accordingly of minor importance. Under the second, each language is recognised as the cumulative product of the creative capacities of the human mind, built up piece by piece as generations of individual speakers make sense out of their experiences and communicate on a daily basis. Under this view each language lost is irreplaceable. Here we will examine the kinds of differences at stake: the alternative delineation of concepts crystallised in vocabulary, semantic distinctions encoded in grammatical categories, and patterns of combining concepts into larger ideas, routinised in grammar. We will then see various kinds of rhetorical virtuosity made possible by these differences. Finally, we will consider how the threat of language loss might shape decisions made by communities, linguists, and the public.

ELDP Fellowships

In the initial round of Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP), administered through SOAS in London, there were 150 applications for research grants (PhD scholarships, Postdoctoral Fellowships, and Senior Scholar Grants) of which 21 were successful. We are delighted to report that RCLT gained three of these, all Postdoctoral Fellowships. They are as follows:

  • Dr Catriona Hyslop (currently on a La Trobe postdoc) has been awarded a two-year Fellowship, which she will take up on the conclusion of her present Fellowship, on 18 February 2004. Her project is 'Documentation of the grammar, lexicon and oral tradition of the Vurës language of west Vanua Lava, Vanuatu'. She has been granted a total sum (to cover salary, field work, etc.) of GBP£51,399.
  • Dr Knut Olawsky (currently on a three-year postdoc financed by an ARC Large Grant to Bob Dixon) has also been awarded a two-year Fellowship, which he will take up on the conclusion of his present Fellowship, on 1 July 2003. His project is 'Language and culture of the Urarina people of Peru: preparation of grammar and dictionary for an endangered language.' He has been granted a total sum of GBP£64,362.
  • Birgit Hellwig (currently completing her PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen) has also been awarded a two-year Fellowship, which she will take up on the completion of her PhD course, on 1st December 2003. Her project is 'Documentation of Goemai, a West Chadic language of Central Nigeria'. She has been granted total sum of GBP£54,853.

In addition, one of our current PhD scholars, Antoine Guillaume, has been awarded a two-year Fellowship to work on endangered languages from Bolivia. He will take this up at his alma mater, the University of Lyon.

For further information on our Visiting Fellows and ongoing activities, please visit our website at

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Linguistic identification of nationality

'Linguistic identification in the determination of nationality: a preliminary report' by Diana Eades, Helen Fraser, Jeff Siegel, Tim McNamara and Brett Baker is to appear in the journal Language Policy in 2003. A preliminary version is hosted at

An email to the ALS membership has brought this issue (we hope) to the attention of the linguistics community here. The report has been sent to Minister Ruddock, and has garnered a fair amount of attention on ABC radio recently. In apparent response, Ruddock's department (Immigration, Multicultural, and Indigenous Affairs) has released a press statement backing up their use of LingID, claiming that it is credible and useful for determining nationality. As we noted in our report, this conflicts with the assessment of Refugee Review Tribunal officials themselves, many of whom in the published reports also call into question the validity of LingID.

As a follow-up, we would like the ALS membership to consider agreeing to a joint response to DIMIA. We (the authors) can draft a document for consideration at the September AGM. Please contact Brett Baker at if you wish to make a comment.

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News from UNE

  • We are is pleased to announce that Dr Brett Baker has taken up a permanent fulltime Lecturer position with us.
  • Margaret Sharpe has submitted a M. Phil. thesis on Ngadiji, a Yanyuwa genre of Aboriginal song and dance at University of Sydney.
  • Prof Cliff Goddard is conducting an NSM masterclass at Leiden, and a workshop on semantics at Nijmegen for 4 weeks May - June.
  • Dr Helen Fraser returns from study leave in early July.
  • Cindy Schneider heads off to Vanuatu in May to commence fieldwork on Apma.

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The Pacific And Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures, or PARADISEC, is a consortium made up of the linguistics departments of the Universities of Sydney, and Melbourne and the RSPAS at ANU. PARADISEC has ARC LIEF funding to establish a digitisation centre for audio-recordings of ethnographic material from the Australian region. More details are available at

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News from Monash

The research team led by Margaret Florey has been awarded a £63037 Major Documentation Project grant by the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme, administered through SOAS, University of London. This grant provides significant further support to the project currently funded by an ARC Discovery Grant for the documentation of four Moluccan languages in eastern Indonesia and in the Dutch diaspora.

The research team members include Dr Simon Musgrave (ARC Postdoctoral Fellow, Monash University), Dr Michael Ewing (University of Melbourne), Prof. Nikolaus Himmelmann (Partner Investigator, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany), and Drs Betty Litamahuputty (Max Planck Field Station, Atma Jaya University, Jakarta). Colleen Pickett has recently been appointed Project Coordinator at Monash, and is currently developing a project website.

Three members of the research team have just returned from a preliminary research trip to Indonesia. Florey and Litamahuputty returned to Maluku for the first time since inter-ethnic violence erupted in 1998. We received a very warm welcome during our meetings at Pattimura University with the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. M. Huliselan, and staff in the cooperative research branch. We were heartened to see that rebuilding of the university has commenced following its complete destruction in 2000. It was exciting to be able to travel to three of our four research sites and to undertake preliminary documentation on Seram Island with speakers of Soahuku (Amahei, Koaku), and on Ambon Island with speakers of Allang and Tulehu. Ewing held meetings in Jakarta with staff of the Max Planck Field Station and Atma Jaya University.

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Online creole journal

Des nouvelles de la revue Creolica :

  • Parution des premiers articles en ligne
  • Ouverture d'une nouvelle rubrique pour indiquer des parutions récentes
  • Des liens
  • Bientôt des 'notes de travail' et des comptes rendus...

Pensez à nous adresser les ouvrages à parution pour recension dans la revue. Et pour soumettre des articles au Comité de lecture : toutes les procédures sont indiquées sur le site : cf. présentation de la revue et consignes aux auteurs.

En vous demandant de pardonner les diffusions multiples, mais en vous invitant aussi à faire connaître la revue autour de vous.

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Bilingual couples talk (Piller)

Ingrid Piller. 2002. Bilingual Couples Talk: The discursive construction of hybridity. Studies in Bilingualism 25. Hb xii,315 pp.90 ISBN: 272 4136 8 EUR75.00, 1 58811 287 X USD68.00.

This sociolinguistic study of the linguistic practices of bilingual couples describes the conditions, processes and results of private language contact. It is based on a unique corpus of more than 20 hours of private conversations between partners in bilingual marriages. Adding to its breadth of coverage, these private conversations are supplemented with larger public discourses about international couplehood. The volume thus offers a corpus-driven investigation of the ways in which ideologies of gender, nationality and immigration mediate linguistic performances in private cross-cultural communication. The author embraces social-constructionist, feminist and postmodern approaches to second language learning, multilingualism and cross-cultural communication. In contrast to other titles in the field which have focused almost exclusively on the socialization of bilingual children, this book explores what it means to one's sense of self to become socialized into a second language and culture as a late bilingual.

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Studies in evidentiality (Aikhenvald & Dixon)

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and R.M.W. Dixon (eds). 2003. Studies in evidentiality. Typological Studies in Language 54. 2ISBN: 1 58811 344 2 (US)

In a number of languages, the speaker must specify the evidence for every statement whether seen, or heard, or inferred from indirect evidence, or learnt from someone else. This grammatical category, referring to information source, is called 'evidentiality'. Evidentiality systems differ in how complex they are some distinguish just two terms (eyewitness and moneywitness, or reported and non-reported), while others have six (or even more) terms. Evidentiality is a category in its own right, and not a subtype of epistemic or some other modality, or of tense-aspect. The introductory chapter sets out cross-linguistic parameters for studying evidentiality. It is followed by twelve chapters which deal with typologically different languages from various parts of the world: Shipibo-Conibo, Jarawara, Tariana and Myky from South America; West Greenlandic Eskimo; Western Apache and Eastern Pomo from North America; Qian (Tibeto-Burman); Yukaghir (Siberian isolate); Turkic languages; languages of the Balkans; and Abkhaz (Northwest Caucasian). The final chapter summarises some of the recurrent patterns.

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Jobs, grants and scholarship possibilities

PhD scholarship in linguistics and/or ethnomusicology

A possible opening has recently appeared for a PhD student to work in collaboration with Alan Rumsey, Laurence Goldman, Nicole Haley and Don Niles on an ARC-funded project on oral tradition, chanted narrative and contemporary land ownership in Highland PNG, as described below. We are looking for an Australian- or New Zealand-based student with a first class honours degree in linguistics and/or ethnomusicology, or equivalent, to do a PhD at Australian National University in connection with the project. The student would be enrolled at ANU's Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, in Linguistics or Anthropology. The candidate would work in tandem with a PhD student in social anthropology, probably with the Hewa or Bogaia people in the far west of the Southern Highlands Province. The new student would receive a stipend at the level of an Australian Postgraduate Research Award, plus full funding for fieldwork, travel to attend annual workshops held in conjunction with the project, and access to research assistance as needed. Because the project is already underway and this position has only recently become available, we will be looking to fill it very soon, if possible by June or July of 2003. For further information, contact Alan Rumsey at 02-6125-2365 or 6286-2005, email

Project title and description: Chanted tales from Highland New Guinea: A comparative study of oral performance traditions and their role in contemporary land politics.

Across a large region within the Western and Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea there are flourishing traditions of epic-like, chanted tales. These tales play a central part in the lives of people there, both as a highly developed form of verbal art, and as a key element in indigenous systems of land ownership and control. In this project we seek to increase our understanding of both of these interrelated aspects of the tales - the poetic and the political - through innovative collaboration among scholars with expertise in social-cultural anthropology, linguistics and ethnomusicology, and with long-term field experience in areas where widely differing varieties of chanted tales are performed. The work we will do on this project will provide crucial evidence bearing on key issues in the cross-cultural study of verbal art, including: 1) the nature of oral poetry and oral composition; 2) the nature and significance of the line as a fundamental building block of verbal art; 3) the nature of poetic parallelism and its relation to other aspects of culture and social life. In addition to these issues of comparative poetics, the project will examine the role of chanted tales in contemporary life in Highland PNG, especially in the far west of the Southern Highlands, where they play a key role in the politics of customary land tenure. Their role in this respect has become even more important in recent years, for two reasons: 1) over much of this region the chanted tales provide one of the only means of transmission of the esoteric knowledge of landscape that is crucial for establishing clansmen's territorial claims, since the secret rituals through which this was formerly done are no longer practiced; 2) much of this region is rich in minerals, or expected to be, and since the royalities for this are paid to clan-based 'Incorporated Land Groups', issues of clan-level customary land ownership have assumed a new importance in the area.

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Endangered Languages Documentation Programme

Advance Notice: 2003 Call for Proposals

With the first round of the ELDP application process completed and offers of grants made, we propose to move straight on the the second call for Preliminary Applications. The purpose of this e-mail is to outline the timetable and the key structural changes to the programme. It should be noted that the timetable has been brought forward when compared with that of 2002.

2002 Outcomes: The ELDP received approximately 150 applications in response to its firstcall for applications. About 40 of these were invited to submit detailed applications, and although it was not possible to offer financial support to all good proposals, the Fund was able to make formal offers of grants to 21 applicants: Studentships, Fellowships and Project grants. Details of the offers, and subsequently details of those accepted, will be publicised on the ELDP web page shortly (

2003 Timetable

  • 16th May 2003 - Revised guidelines and forms available on the web page.
  • 8th August 2003 - Deadline for submission of Preliminary Applications.
  • 19th September 2003 - Invitations to submit Detailed Applications dispatched.
  • 14th November 2003 - Deadline for submission of Detailed Applications.
  • 27th February 2004 - Announcement of Funding Awards.
The timetable will be repeated annually.

2003 Guidance: The new guidelines and application forms for the 2003 funding round will be published on the website by Friday 26th May 2003. In the meantime, the 2002 guidelines may be used as a general guide. The five types of application used in 2002 will remain, although additional guidelindes as to funding limits will be provided.

The main aims of the Fund remain the documentation of seriously endangered languages and the criteria remain (a) endangerment, (b) significance of the language and (c) quality of proposal. The Fund's primary concern is with documentation rather than focused revitalisation - although the link is appreciated and sometimes desirable. As such prospective applicants should structure the documentation in such a way as to assist local communities in preserving and fostering highly endangered ancestral languages and speech ways.

Whilst in essence the guidelines will remain broadly similar, there will be a number of budgetary refinements. Key changes that you may wish to note will be as follows:

  • Overhead/Institutional Administration costs will not be eligible.
  • Top-up salaries for established/employed academics will not be eligible (this includes the funding of non-institutional funded summer vacation periods).
  • A limit of £2000 (pounds sterling) may be requested for publications.
  • Major equipment costs (i.e. laptops, camcorders etc) will not be provided for projects where the period of fieldwork is limited.
  • Modest training activity for local communities (within the context of a substantive project) will be eligible for support.

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Conferences and workshops

2003 Australian Linguistic Society conference

The ALS Annual Conference is being held at the University of Newcastle from 26th to 28th September.

The deadline for abstracts is 8 June 2003. These should be no longer than 200 words and should be sent to

Check the Conference website for details at

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Sino-Tibetan Conference

36th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

The conference will be held from 28 to 30 November 2003.

We invite proposals for workshops to be held on 26 and/or 27 November.

Please preregister if you wish to receive further announcements, giving your name and email or postal address.

Abstracts (1 page) should be sent to by 30 June 2003. If your abstract contains any unusual fonts, please send as a fax (+61 3 9479 1520) or mail to Linguistics, La Trobe University VIC 3086, Australia.

Further information will be added to the web site as it becomes available.

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Workshop in Forensic Linguistic Analysis

4th - 8th July 2003

Hosted by Sancta Sophia College, University of Sydney, Australia

The workshop takes place immediately prior to the 6th Conference of the International Association of Forensic Linguistics, also to be held at the University of Sydney. For details, see:

We will be running a Workshop in Forensic Linguistic Analysis from the 4th - 8th July 2003 at Sancta Sophia College, University of Sydney, Australia. The workshop is a five-day course which provides a comprehensive introduction to forensic linguistic analysis. The course is taught by highly qualified and experienced experts in the fields of forensic linguistics, courtroom discourse analysis, forensic phonetics and interpreting in legal contexts; 4.5 hours of tuition will be provided each day and the workshop assumes no prior experience of forensic linguistics. Areas covered include:

  • Forensic author identification
  • Forensic speaker/utterance identification
  • Linguistic evidence
  • The discourse of emergency calls, police interviews and the courtroom
  • The comprehensibility of legal language
  • Aboriginal land rights
  • Second dialect speakers in the legal process
  • Interpreting in forensic contexts

The fees for attending the whole course are: £575 or US$945 or AU$1625 (as relevant). It is also possible to attend one or more days, with appropriate fee reductions for partial attendance (full details are in the documentation, available on request). A discounted rate is offered to full-time students.

Numbers are strictly limited and participants will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. Further details and a registration form are available from Marilyn Washbrook, Department of English, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom. E-mail:

Queries relating to course content may be directed to the Course Directors, Dr Janet Cotterill, at: or Professor Malcolm Coulthard at:

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New Zealand Linguistics Conference

This year's New Zealand Linguistics Conference will be a one-day conference held at Victoria University of Wellington on Friday 5th September 2003, 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. Papers are welcome on all aspects of linguistics.

Please indicate your intention to participate to Laurie Bauer, and if you wish to offer a paper, please send an abstract to him by 7th June 2003: Laurie Bauer, Professor of Linguistics, School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand; Fax +64 4 463 5604, DDI: + 64 4 463 5619, e-mail:, web:

Since the conference will last only one day, if people wish to stay on for a weekend in vibrant Wellington, they should make their own arrangements for accommodation. We can give hints for accommodation if necessary. There will be no formal conference dinner, although participants who are not flying home immediately at the end of the conference will be welcome to join an informal dinner in a local restaurant.

Please pass this notice on to anyone who might be interested.

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Foundation for Endangered Languages conference

Seventh International Conference hosted by the Foundation for Endangered Languages, 'Maintaining the Links: Language, Identity and the Land'

Broome, Western Australia, September 22nd - 24th 2003

The website for the conference has just been launched at The site includes conference and registration information, the programme, details of excursions and the call for papers.

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About ALS


  • To further interest in, and support for, linguistic research and teaching in Australia.
  • To organise an annual meeting and visits of local and overseas speakers.
  • To publish a journal of international standing.
  • To organise an International Congress of Linguists when appropriate.
  • To organise an Australian Linguistic Institute.

Benefits of membership

  • Free quarterly Newsletter.
  • Free subscription to the Australian Journal of Linguistics.
  • Membership rates for ALS conference registration.
  • Entitlement to present papers at the Annual Conference.
  • The more intangible benefits of belonging to the network of Australian linguists.

ALS office bearers

President Michael Walsh (Sydney)
Vice-Presidents Verna Rieschild (Macquarie)
Rachel Nordlinger (Melbourne)
Peter Peterson (Newcastle)
Secretary John Henderson (UWA)
Treasurer Doug Absalom (Newcastle)
Journal Editors Toni Borowsky (Sydney)
Mark Harvey (Newcastle)
(Reviews) Alan Libert (Newcastle)
Newsletter Editor Tim Curnow (UQ)
Postgrad Student Rep Nick Thieberger (Melbourne)

Next newsletter

The ALS Newsletter is published four times per year. This is the second issue for 2003. The next issue (03/3) will come out in mid August 2003. Copy will be due on the first Monday in August. If you would like to be on the email list for a reminder that the date is approaching, contact the Newsletter Editor.

Please send copy, and any queries, comments or suggestions to Tim Curnow (

The ALS journal

The ALS publishes a journal, the Australian Journal of Linguistics (AJL) twice a year. The latest issue was 22/2. The journal is published by Carfax (Taylor & Francis),

Correspondence regarding papers and reviews should be sent to any of the editors or the reviews editor (contact details in office bearers section).

ALS membership and address changes

In general, subscriptions are due at the beginning of each calendar year, unless you pay for several years at a time. The year you are paid to is shown on the address label on the envelope your journal comes in. If you haven't paid at all this century, you won't be getting any more journal issues ...

A form is available on the website to renew your subscription.

This may be a good time to remind you that apart from email addresses, there is only one membership list and that is maintained by the Treasurer, Doug Absalom ( If you need to change your address or make other enquiries, please do it through him.