Newsletter February 2005

ALS Newsletter February 2005

ALS 05/1, February 2005

Note that following a request, I have replaced the @ symbol in any email addresses in this newsletter with '-at-'. It should be easy enough to work out the real address!


News and information

Survey of field linguistics higher degree training in Australasian universities

At the end of last year, a survey was undertaken by Nick Evans, Steven Bird and Cathy Bow on behalf of the Linguistic Society of America's Committee for Endangered Language Preservation. This survey looked at training and support for linguistics students doing fieldwork in lesser-studied languages in Australasia. The major reason is to put together a guide that will help linguistics students interested in pursuing fieldwork PhDs and other higher degrees to choose where they want to study; a secondary reason is to do a stocktake of just what is going on around the world in this part of the profession's training.

The results of the survey have been collated and a summary is included below, followed by the original survey questions. Full responses are available at

Summary of responses

Of 24 institutions surveyed, 21 responses were received. Responses from two individuals at Charles Darwin University were collated together, however responses from two separate departments at ANU (RSPAS and Arts faculty) were calculated separately (though their responses appear together). No responses were received from Macquarie, UWS or AIATSIS, and responses from UNSW were incomplete.

With regard to support for students wanting to do linguistic fieldwork, 14 (ANU, ANU-RSPAS, CDU, LaTrobe, Monash, RCLT, Canterbury, Melbourne, UNE, UQ, Sydney, Waikato, UWA, VUW) listed either financial or supervisory support, 4 (ECU, Auckland, Newcastle, Otago) said no specific support, 2 NR (Adelaide, UNSW) and one no program (Flinders).

With regard to Field Methods courses, 7 institutions (ANU, ANU-RSPAS, LaTrobe, Melbourne, Sydney, UWA, VUW) responded positively, with another 6 (Monash, Auckland, Canterbury, UNE, UNSW, UQ) either intending to offer, having it on their books but not currently teaching it, or teaching the same skills in a different unit. The other 8 do not offer specific course, but some of these (CDU, ECU, Adelaide, Otago) indicated that they are planning to or would like to or have in the past. Of those which do, the majority are at 3rd/4th year level, taught every second year, with the language consultant involved from 2 to 7 hours per week, enrolments vary from 2 to 25.

With regard to the preservation of documented materials, 9 institutions (ANU-RSPAS, CDU, Monash, RCLT, Melbourne, UNE, UQ, Sydney, Waikato) say they make provision for this, mostly using PARADISEC and/or AIATSIS. Of those which don't, some are trying to implement this, and many informally encourage it. (2 did not respond: Adelaide, UNSW)

With regard to training or orientation to the use of digital methods and technology for collection, management and archiving of linguistic materials, only 5 institutions (Monash, RCLT, Melbourne, UQ, Sydney) identified specific training, while 5 (ANU-RSPAS, CDU, UNE, Waikato, UWA) referred to 'ad hoc' or informal training, 6 (ANU, ECU, Auckland, Newcastle, Otago, VUW) responded negatively, and 5 (Adelaide, Canterbury, Flinders, LaTrobe, UNSW) did not respond.

With regard to encouraging submission of grammatical description as a PhD thesis, 14 institutions (ANU, ANU-RSPAS, LaTrobe, Monash, RCLT, Adelaide, Auckland, Melbourne, UNE, UNSW, Sydney, Waikato, UWA, VUW) responded positively, and numbers of submissions varied from zero to 15 in the past 10-15 years, with some not reporting any figures. 3 institutions (ECU, Otago, UQ) said they neither encouraged nor discouraged such submissions, and 3 (CDU, Canterbury, Newcastle) responded negatively, and 1 (Flinders) said NA.

With regard to other types of primary description as PhD theses, 8 institutions (ANU-RSPAS, RCLT, Adelaide, Melbourne, UNE, Sydney, UWA, VUW) responded positively, with numbers of submissions varying from zero to 14, with some not reporting any figures. 4 institutions (CDU, LaTrobe, Monash, UQ) said they neither encouraged nor discouraged such submissions, 3 (Auckland, Newcastle, Waikato) responded negatively, and 6 (ANU, ECU, Flinders, Canterbury, UNSW, Otago) did not respond.

With regard to staff having fieldwork as a primary interest, 18 of the 21 respondents responded positively (only CDU & Otago did not, with no response from UNSW), with numbers varying from 1 to 6. Australia was the most common location cited, followed by locations in the Pacific region.

Complete responses to all questions can be accessed by question at and by institution at

Original survey

Dear Fellow Australasian Field Linguists,

On behalf of the LSA Committee for Endangered Language Preservation, we are conducting a survey of training and support for linguistics students doing fieldwork in lesser-studied languages. The major reason is to put together a guide that will help linguistics students interested in pursuing fieldwork PhDs and other higher degrees to choose where they want to study; a secondary reason is to do a stocktake of just what is going on around the world in this part of the profession's training.

While the CELP's North American members are distribributing a similar questionnaire to this one, ours has been adapted to the Australasian situation, particularly the different distribution of coursework training between advanced undergraduate and postgraduate training. Our goal is to develop a profile of the fieldwork situation and opportunities in Australasian universities.

The results will be published in the next ALS Newsletter (Feb 05) and reported to the LSA in January.

We put together the list of addressees by thinking of a single person who would make sense as a respondent from each university in Australasia that we know, or think, offers this sort of advanced linguistic training. If you feel you are not the right person to respond, or notice a glaring absence from our list of institutions, please give us the name of an appropriate alternative. If the information requested is readily available online, please give a relevant URL if that will save you time in filling out the survey.

With our thanks in advance for taking the time to do this. We believe that the information we gather will do a lot to attract talented students into suitable fieldwork programs.

Best, Nick Evans, Steven Bird, Cathy Bow

  • What support does your institution offer for students wanting to do linguistic fieldwork?
  • Does your institution offer a Field Methods course? If so, please indicate the level, frequency, and average enrolment. How much time each week is the language consultant actively involved?
  • Does your program make provision for the preservation of documented materials? Does it include training or orientation to the use of digital methods and technology for collection, management and archiving of linguistic materials?
  • Does your institution encourage submission of grammatical description as a PhD thesis? If so, approximately how many have been submitted in the past 10-15 years? Does your insitution encourage other types of primary description or documentation (eg phonological, annotated text collection, etc)? If so how many and what type?
  • How many staff have fieldwork as a primary interest? Who are they and where do they work?

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Terry Crowley's funeral

Thanks to Jeff Siegel for this.

The program of the funeral service for Terry Crowley, recently held in Hamilton, New Zealand, was titled 'A Celebration of Terry's Life', and that's exactly what it was. The chapel at Waikato University where it was held overlooked a little lake. Inside there were many Vanuatu mats, and a large photo of Terry making laplap. Music ranged from Bach to Yothu Yindi to Hirini Melbourne. About 150 people attended.

The coffin was brought in with Aroha Yates-Smith (Professor in Maori and a close friend of Terry's from Waikato) doing traditional Maori wailing. The pall bearers included Janet Holmes, Arthur Faerua (a ni-Vanuatu lecturer in law at USP), Terry's cousin Philip from Melbourne, and other friends from Hamilton. The service began with a welcome and song in Maori. Wendy Cowling (an anthropologist and good friend of Terry's) talked about Terry and read from his 'What I did on my Christmas holidays on Malakula' paper. This was followed by a welcome from Richard Bedford, Deputy V-C (research) at Waikato, who had lived in Vanuatu and spoke partly in Bislama. Memories of Terry were presented by Diana Eades, Arthur Faerua, Ray Harlow and Aroha Yates-Smith. A song 'E Taku Kuru Pounomu', written and recorded by Aroha, was then played. I talked about Terry's amazing scholarly achievements and our friendship. (I also passed on condolences from ALS.) Then several other people spoke or read out tributes to Terry, including his PhD student working on Malakula, Julie Barbour, who gave a tearful speech mostly in Bislama. Finally, a message was read from Terry's sister Judy in Perth, who could not attend.

After a minute of silence and a poem ready by Wendy, the coffin was taken from the chapel, accompanied by a song: 'Fel Sel Hemi Go' ['I'll leave after drinking the first cup of kava']. People were given leaves of kawakawa to place on the coffin in the hearse. Terry was privately cremated.

The service lasted for 2 hours. Terry probably would have wanted it to be a bit shorter so he could get to the cup of tea and goodies afterwards, but I think he would have been pleased overall. It was great to meet and talk to so many people who had known and loved Terry. Not surprisingly, the common themes among the memories were Terry's love of kava and good food (especially 'disgusting desserts'), his quirky sense of humour, and his generosity. There's nobody like Terry, and we'll all miss him.

The photo of Terry making laplap and the obituary from the Waikato Times can be found at

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News from the RCLT

The following is some news from the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology, at La Trobe University. Their 2005 newsletter will be available on the web in a few days, at

Research Fellows

  • Dr Catriona Hyslop is continuing her two year Individual Postgraduate Fellowship from the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme. She will continue working on the documentation of the grammar, lexicon and oral tradition of the Vurës language of West Vanua Lava, Vanuatu.
  • Dr Stephen Morey is a La Trobe University Postdoctoral Research Fellow. He will continue documenting the Turung language of Assam, India, and investigating the relationship between Turung, and the Tibeto-Burman and Tai-Kadai families.
  • Dr Knut Olawsky is continuing his two-year Individual Postgraduate Fellowship from the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme, working on 'Language and culture of the Urarina People of Peru: preparation of grammar and dictionary for an endangered language'.
  • Dr David Fleck, on an RCLT three-year Research Fellowship, will continue investigating the language contact situation between Matses (Panoan family; Amazonian Peru and Brazil) and neighboring groups. He will also be documenting Marubo and several undescribed obsolescent Panoan languages spoke by captive women living among the Matses.
  • Dr Ghil'ad Zuckermann is a La Trobe University Postdoctoral Research Fellow. He will continue exploring the nature of the 'Israeli' language, whether it should be considered a historical continuation of Ancient Hebrew (a Semitic language), or a mixed language with a basically Indo-European profile.
  • Dr Birgit Hellwig has been awarded a two-year Individual Postgraduate Fellowship from the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme. She will continue dividing her time between the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and RCLT, working on the grammar of Goemai, a Chadic language.
  • Dr Rosemary Beam de Azcona, on an RCLT three-year Research Fellowship, will be writing a reference grammar of San Agustín Mixtepec Zapotec, a highly endangered language from Mexico.
  • Dr Gerd Jendraschek, on an RCLT three-year Research Fellowship, will be undertaking a comprehensive study of a language in Papua New Guinea.

Visiting Fellows

  • Professor Peter Trudgill, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Fribourg, is a leading expert on sociolinguistics, dialectology and linguistic typology, having published seminal works on many topics. He will be a Special Visiting Fellow (sponsored by the Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University) during November, giving a public lecture, when he will be awarded a Degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa).
  • Dr Felix Ameka, of Leiden University, a leading expert on West African languages, linguistic typology and comparative linguistics, will be at RCLT from 12 March until 14 August. He will be working on A modern reference grammar of Ewe, and organizing his corpus on Likpe and drafting an outline grammar of this language.
  • Professor Stephen Matthews, of the University of Hong Kong, a leading expert on Sinitic languages, linguistic typology and bilingualism, will be at RCLT from 2 May until 28 August. He will be working on Cantonese grammar in areal perspective and a book provisionally entitled The bilingual child: language contact and early development (jointly with Virginia Yip).
  • Dr Peter Bakker, of the University of Aarhus, a major expert on language contact and mixed languages, will be at RCLT from 23 May until 25 August. He will be working on a comprehensive reference grammar of Michif, a mixed language from Canada.
  • Professor Dr Mechthild Reh, of the University of Hamburg, a leading expert on grammaticalization and on African languages, their typology and grammatical structures, will be at RCLT between 25 July and 9 October. She will be finalising her book A typology of experiencer constructions (African languages).

Honorary Visiting Fellows

  • Dr David Watters, a member of SIL International and of the teaching staff at Tribhuvan University at Kathmandu, Nepal, is a leading expert on Tibeto-Burman languages. He will be at RCLT between 8 January and the middle of March. He will be working on the grammar of Kusunda, an endangered language isolate spoken in Nepal.
  • Professor Jerrold M. Sadock, of the University of Chicago, a major authority on Eskimo and various issues in morphology, syntax and speech acts theory, will be at RCLT between 14 January and 23 February. He will be working on researching the morphosyntax of Aleut, a highly endangered language of the Aleutian Islands and Peninsula.
  • Professor John Saeed, from the University of Dublin, a major expert on Somali grammar and on semantics, will be at RCLT from 24 January until 15 May. He will be working on the category of focus in Cushitic languages, and be complteing a reference grammar of Irish Sign language.
  • Professor Virginia Yip, of the University of Hong Kong, a leading expert on Cantonese and bilingualism, will be at RCLT between 2 July and 28 August, working on Sinitic grammar and on bilingual language acquisition, working on a book provisionally entitled The bilingual child: language contact and early development (jointly with Stephen Matthews).
  • Dr Graham McKay, Head of the School of Language and Literature at Edith Cowan University in Perth will be at RCLT from January 29 until February 13. He plans to continue revising his grammar of Rembarrnga (from Central Arnhem land) for publication.
  • Assoc. Prof. John Hajek, recent Head of the Department of French and Italian Studies at the University of Melbourne, will continue as a part-time Visiting Fellow, working on language typology and on the languages of East Timor.
  • Dr Tonya Stebbins will be working on a reference grammar of Mali-Baning, a language from the Gazelle Peninsula region of New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

PhD students

  • Carola Emkow is working on a comprehensive grammar of Araona, a Takana language spoken in Bolivia.
  • Stefan Dienst is working on a comprehensive grammar of the Kulina language (Arawá family) from the state of Acre in Brazil.
  • Rebecca Hanson is working on a comprehensive reference grammar of Piro (Yine), an Arawak language from Peru.
  • Sheena Van Der Mark is working on Vinitiri, a previously undescribed Austronesian language from East New Britain, Papua New Guinea.
  • Simon Overall is working on a comprehensive grammar of Aguaruna, from Peru.
  • Mark Post is working on Galo, a previously undescribed Tibeto-Burman language from India.
  • Seino Breugel will commence in March 2005. He is planning to work on a previously undescribed Tibeto-Burman language from India.
  • Rik de Busser will commence in June 2005. He is planning to work on a previously undescribed Austronesian language from Taiwan.


  • Professor Peter Trudgill will be awarded the Degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) in November (watch our website for date), and will then present a Public Lecture on the topic 'Koinés and creoloids: on the world-wide loss of linguistic complexity'
  • Local Typology Workshop: A local Workshop on Direct and indirect speech meets fortnightly, on Wednesday from 4.00 - 5.30 p.m., commencing on 9 February 2005. At the first meeting, Sasha Aikhenvald will present a position paper detailing criteria for identifying varieties of direct and indirect speech, and their parameters of variation across the world's languages. At subsequent meetings, members of the Workshop will each give a 30 minute presentation on direct and indirect speech in a language on which they have specialised knowledge. At the end, we will attempt to put forward appropriate inductive generalisations. All linguists from the Melbourne area (or from elsewhere) are warmly invited to take part in this and in the following workshops.
  • International Workshop in June 2005: Following on from our successful workshops at the ANU in 1997 and in 1998 and at La Trobe in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004, we shall be holding an International Workshop on Grammars in Contact, from Monday 13th until Saturday 18th June 2005 at La Trobe University (mostly the City Campus, but Bundoora Campus on Thursday; Wednesday is a free day). Auditors are welcome, at no fee (but note that we are unable to organise accommodation for auditors). The position paper for the workshop, by Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, can be accessed on our website, The provisional program will also be available soon at that site. Presenters and topic areas are Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (Vaupés linguistic area), Patience Epps (Tukanoan influence on Hup), Willem F. H. Adelaar (Quechua-Arawak contact in Amuesha), Eithne Carlin (Cariban functions into Mawayana), Felix Ameka (Volta Basin, West Africa), Anne Storch (Western Nilotic), Peter Bakker, Stephen Matthews (Cantonese), R.M.W. Dixon (Australian linguistic area), Mark Donohue (Skou), John Hajek (Tetun Dili), Victor Friedman (Balkans), Kate Burridge (Pennsylvania German), Gerd Jendraschek (Basque and Romance languages), Ghil'ad Zuckermann (Israeli).

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News from Sydney Uni

Bill Palmer, Grev Corbett and Dunstan Brown have been funded for three years to work on some problems in the grammars of Oceanic languages of the Solomon Islands and Bougainville, through the UK's Arts and Humanities Reseach Board.

Recent thesis: Maree K Stenglin, 'Packaging curiosities: Towards a grammar of three-dimensional space'. Supervisor: Jim Martin. E-mail: mstenglin AT Building on the social semiotic tools developed by Halliday (1978, 1985a), Halliday and Hasan (1976), Martin (1992) and Matthiessen (1995), this thesis maps a grammar of three-dimensional space with a strong focus on the interpersonal metafunction. In particular, it identifies two interpersonal resources for organising space: Binding and Bonding. Binding is concerned with the way people1s emotions can be affected by the organisation of three-dimensional space. Essentially, it explores the affectual disposition that exists between a person and the space that person occupies by focussing on how a space can be organised to make an occupant feel secure or insecure. Binding is complemented by Bonding. Bonding is concerned with the way the occupants of a space are positioned interpersonally to create solidarity. In cultural institutions like museums and galleries, Bonding is concerned with making visitors feel welcome and as though they belong, not just to the building and the physical environment, but to a community of like-minded people. Finally, in order to present a metafunctionally diversified grammar of space, the thesis moves beyond interpersonal meanings. It concludes by exploring the ways textual and ideational meanings can also be organised in three-dimensional space.

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Fellow, Australian Academy of the Humanities

At the Annual General Meeting of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, held on 20 November 2004 in Hobart, Tasmania, 18 outstanding scholars were elected Fellows, and 7 individuals were elected Honorary Fellows. Among them was ALS member David Bradley. As the Academy press release puts it:

Associate Professor David Bradley of the Linguistics Department at La Trobe University is a scholar of remarkably broad interests and achievements. A leading international specialist in Tibeto-Burman and Sino-Tibetan languages, his research achievements extend into geolinguistics, lexicography, language policy, and language maintenance – especially the maintenance of endangered languages.

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Language archiving and funding

As it is ARC application writing season, Nick Thieberger would like to encourage any potential depositors with PARADISEC to build a component of funding for archiving into your applications. Funding bodies appreciate that the products of our research need to be safely housed in the longterm, and this cannot be done without funds. Digital storage is not free, and preparing data takes some time, including conversion (if necessary) to a digital form and preparation of sufficient descriptive material (metadata) to enable the data to be located.

PARADISEC has some indicative information costings for digitisation and archiving at

For more information, please contact Nick Thieberger at, or phone 03 8344 5185.

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Obituary: Carl-Georg von Brandenstein, 1909-2005

Thanks to Nick Thieberger for this.

After some thirty years of active fieldwork in Western Australia, Carl-Georg von Brandenstein passed away in Albany on January 8th, 2005. Born in 1909 in Hannover, Germany, Carl entered the Australian linguistic scene in the 1960s with recordings and analysis of languages of Western Australia, mainly from the Pilbara. He was never part of the mainstream of linguistics in Australia, but followed his own path, and has left a legacy of records of languages for which little else is known. He was always generous in providing material when requested, as much to champion his theories as to engage in academic openness.

He was concerned to portray the poetic side of Aboriginal languages as seen in Taruru, his book of song words from the Pilbara. He included large textual corpora as part of his description of several Pilbara languages and of Nyungar and Ngadjumaya.

Originally trained as a classicist, first at Berlin University, than at Leipzig, his PhD was a study of the iconography of Hittite gods. When the Second World War broke out, Carl became a corporal in the army and served in France and on the Russian front before going to Persia in 1941. He was captured by the British in Tabriz and interned in Australia, first at Loveday camp in South Australia and then at Tatura camp in Victoria.

In June 1964 he received funding from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (AIAS, now AIATSIS) to work in Western Australia. Between 1964 and 1968 Carl and his wife Carola spent 4-6 months annually in the Pilbara. He returned to Europe periodically, and went on to work in the south of Western Australia, on Ngadjumaya around Norseman, and on Nyungar from the south-west. Sadly, while his field recordings and notes up to the late 1960s are held at AIATSIS, the location of his subsequent fieldnotes dealing with Nyungar and Ngadjumaya is currently unknown.

He is survived by his daughter, Bettina, her son Sven, and his great-granddaughter Lara.

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News from Linguistics, Faculties, ANU

Harold Koch has been appointed Head of the School of Language Studies for 2005.

Anna Wierzbicka has received a five-year large ARC grant for 'The English Language - Meaning, History and Culture'.

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News from Linguistics, RSPAS, ANU

Jeff Marck returned to the Department in December 2004 after five years and a bit in the United States. Aside from his ANU PhD of 1999, Jeff did a linguistics masters degree at the University of Hawai'i and degrees in anthropology from the University of Iowa (BA, African economic anthropology; MA, Pacific prehistory). In addition to those degrees, Jeff worked for demographers at the East-West Center in Hawai'i and the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health here at ANU for about seven years. He brings his interests in the prehistory of Austronesian demography, language, culture and society to Malcolm Ross and Andrew Pawley's project covering the terminologies of the Proto Oceanic language for people and society.

We thanked our Kiriwinian visitors, Nelson Toposona, Daniel Fellows and Lepani Ahab, for their artistic work in producing a masawa, a type of seagoing canoes. The masawa was presented to the Linguistics Department, RSPAS to mark their three-month visit to the RSPAS. It has been on display in Coombs building since early December 2004. This type of masawa is used for open sailing in Kiriwinia Trobrian Island PNG, typically for long trading voyages. This particular masawa canoe is called Toluguta. All masawa canoes are individually named and the name is an exclusive property right of the owner. There are often court cases over misappropriation of canoe names.

Research and awards

  • Malcolm Ross and Angela Terrill have received an ARC grant for 2006-2007 for the project 'Languages in Deep Time: the Papuan languages of Island Melanesia and their wider relationships'. This project will investigate the history of Papuan languages of New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville and the Solomon Islands. The methodological approach represents a major innovation for the study of linguistic relatedness, including the application of phylogenetic methods from evolutionary biology to language typology data in a linguistically sophisticated way.
  • Paul Sidwell was awarded a fellowship with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig for research on the history of language contact in Mainland Southeast Asia. He will remain based in the Department of Linguistics, RSPAS.
  • An ARC Linkage Grant for the Upper Sepik and Central New Guinea Ethnographic Project was awarded to the South Australian Museum, U. South Australia and RSPAS, with Prof. A. Pawley as Partner Investigator.
  • Wayan Arka began the second year of his three year project documenting the Rongga language of Flores, funded by the Elisabeth Rausing Fund, SOAS, London.
  • John Bowden continued work on two projects documenting languages of East Timor: an ARC Discovery funded project 'Language contact in East Timor' with J. Hajek of the University of Melbourne and a Volkswagen Foundation project 'Waima'a: language endangerment and maintenance in a newly emerging nation', with J. Hajek and N. Himmelmann of Bochum University.

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News from the University of Melbourne

The Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, University of Melbourne, welcomes a number of new staff in 2005.

A new lecturer level B in Sociolinguistics, Dr Barb Kelly, will take up her position in mid- February. Professor Michael Clyne has retired from his position in the Department and will continue as a Professorial Fellow in the School of Languages and RUMACC.

Three new staff in applied linguistics and ESL have also joined the Department: Dr Neomy Storch as a senior lecturer, Celia Thompson and Janne Morton as lecturers.

Two postdoctoral fellows will also commence their appointments in the Department. Dr Nicole Kruspe is an ELDP fellow, and Dr Judith Bishop is an Australian Research Council postdoctoral fellow.

Janet Fletcher is the new Head of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics. Gillian Wigglesworth has been appointed Head of the School of Languages.

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News from Monash

We are very excited to welcome the appointment this year of three new linguists in the School of Languages Cultures and Linguistics: Dr Farzad Sharifian, Dr Georgina Heydon, Dr Jim Hlavac.

The Linguistics Program is also pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Michael Clyne as Emeritus Professor at Monash University.

Monash Linguistics Program staff members Margaret Florey and Anna Margetts have both returned to Melbourne following prolonged fieldtrips over the summer months.

Margaret Florey and members of the Endangered Moluccan Languages Project returned to their field sites in eastern Indonesia. The research team has now compiled linguistic data from eight endangered and moribund Central Moluccan languages, recorded in eighteen villages. Margaret continued her documentation of the so-called Amahai language, based primarily in Rutah village in southern Seram Island. She was also able to undertake some basic documentation of the neighbouring Sepa language. Simon Musgrave is continuing his documentation of the language spoken in the villages of Tulehu, Tial and Tenga-tenga on Ambon Island. Michael Ewing (U. Melbourne) returned to Allang village, on Ambon Island, and also spent several days recording data in the neighbouring Wakasihu dialect. Betty Litamahuputty (U. Atma Jaya, Jakarta) assisted Michael with the documentation of Allang, working with women in the village, and carried out language vitality testing in the schools. Betty has also recorded basic documentation materials for the Haruku, Saparua and Nusalaut languages.

A one-week residential workshop Mari belajar bahasa tanah 'Let's study indigenous languages' was held in Masohi, southern Seram Island, in early February. This highly successful workshop brought speakers and descendents from four language groups (Allang, Tulehu, Rutah and Alune) together with seven academic staff members from Pattimura University, Ambon, and one member of the National Library in Ambon. Training sessions covered recording and documentation techniques, an introduction to linguistic analysis, language variation and change, historical comparative linguistics, language learning, language teaching, and materials development (dictionaries and literature). Participants were given information and training in the preparation of grant applications, and four groups began to develop proposals for projects to support the maintenance of languages and cultures.

Last year Anna Margetts received a grant from the Volkswagen Foundation for the documentation of the Saliba/Logea language of Papua New Guinea. The project team just came back from their first field trip.

Saliba and Logea are two closely related dialects spoken on neighboring islands in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. The estimated number of speakers is 2,500. The dialects belong to the Papuan Tip Cluster of the Western Oceanic language group. Given that the community of speakers is traditionally small, Saliba/Logea must be considered highly endangered as English is encroaching on many aspects of daily life. While the degree of endangerment is serious, the documentation capacity is still very good. The Saliba and Logea people are continuing to lead a traditional life of fishing and subsistence farming and it is still possible to work with the last generation of old speakers who have essentially no knowledge of English, as well as with children who are growing up as monolingual speakers, at least in the first few years of their life.

The languages of the Papuan Tip Cluster are of special typological interest as they show features not found elsewhere in the Oceanic language group. Some of these features may be explained by early contact with Papuan languages.

The project aims at a multimodal documentation of the language in its cultural context. The main investigator will be Anna Margetts who wrote her Ph.D. thesis on valence and transitivity in Saliba. The German host of the project will be Ulrike Mosel at the University of Kiel. The team also includes John Hajek from Melbourne University who will work on phonetics and phonology, Rhys Gardner from the Auckland Museum working on ethnobotany and Andrew Margetts documenting the building and use of sailing canoes. For information contact Anna Margetts (03) 990 52290,

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Jobs, grants and scholarship possibilities

Post-doctoral Fellowship, RCLT

Applications are invited for a three-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology, La Trobe University, Melbourne. This is to commence on 1st July 2005, or soon thereafter.

Applicants should have been awarded their doctorate within the last five years. They should have experience of linguistic fieldwork and will, ideally, have already completed a grammatical description of some previously undescribed language (not their native language) in terms of basic linguistic theory. The University may consider cases in which the period is in excess of five years due to special circumstances.

Applications will be considered from candidates whose thesis is currently under examination. Applicants must hold a doctoral degree or have equivalent qualifications at the date of appointment. La Trobe graduates should normally have a minimum of two years postdoctoral research experience at another institution. A Fellowship will not normally be awarded to an applicant who holds a permanent appointment within the University.

The successful applicant will work as part of a team with Professor Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, Professor R.M.W. Dixon, and other members of the Research Centre, on a topic relating to languages preferably from South America (although applicants with primary interest in another area would be considered). They will undertake extensive fieldwork and will either (i) produce a comprehensive description of some previously undescribed language; or (ii) pursue an in-depth study of a language contact situation. Option (ii) will be suitable for someone who already has good knowledge of one or more of the languages involved in a suitable contact situation. The choice of project will be made after discussion between the successful applicant and Professors Aikhenvald and Dixon.

The Fellowship will be a three-year appointment and is intended to advance the research activities of the University by bringing to or retaining in Australia a promising scholar.

Enquiries should be directed initially to the Associate Director of RCLT, Professor Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (email, phone +61 3 9479 6402).

Further information and the application form may be obtained from the RCLT World Wide Web Address

The application must be received by the Secretary of the RCLT Research Committee, no later than 11 March 2005. Applicants should supply the names of three referees who will be contacted by RCLT. Applicants should also send in hard copies of their thesis and/or dissertation, and of published work (including papers in press).

Salary Range: A$52,853 pa. - A$56,734 pa.
Closing Date: 11 March 2005.

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Conferences and workshops

2005 Annual Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society

The 2005 ALS Conference will be held from 27th September (evening welcome party and key note address) to 30th September at Monash University, Melbourne. The deadline for abstracts is April 25th. Full details of the conference will be available soon.

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Australian placenames of indigenous origin

The Australian National Placenames Survey will host a day conference on 'Australian placenames of Indigenous origin' in Canberra on Saturday 1 October, 2005 (immediately following the ALS conference). It will follow the same pattern as similar day conferences held in Canberra in 1999, Adelaide 2000 and Darwin 2001, bringing together researchers with interests in Australian languages and cultures with members of the Committee for Geographical Names in Australasia, the peak body for state/territory nomenclature authorities. It is envisaged that versions of some papers presented at this conference will be published, along with others, in a successor volume to The Land is a Map (ed. Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges & Jane Simpson; Pandanus Books, 2002).

Expressions of interest in presenting a paper or receiving further details should be sent to ANPS research fellow Flavia Hodges at the Asia-Pacific Institute for Toponymy, Division of Humanities, Macquarie University, NSW 2109 (; phone 02 9850 7937; fax 02 9850 7926).

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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 Heather Bowe (Monash)
Rachel Nordlinger (Melbourne)
Ingrid Piller
Secretary John Henderson (UWA)
Treasurer Doug Absalom (Newcastle)
Journal Editors Toni Borowsky (Sydney)
Mark Harvey (Newcastle)
(Reviews) Alan Libert (Newcastle)
Newsletter Editor Tim Curnow
Postgrad Student Rep Alice Gaby

Next newsletter

The ALS Newsletter is published four times per year. This is the first issue for 2005. The next issue (05/2) will come out in mid May 2005. Copy will be due on the first Monday in May. If you would like to be on the email list for a reminder that the date is approaching, contact the Newsletter Editor on

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 24/2. 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.

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.