Newsletter August 2008

Welcome to the latest Newsletter of the Australian Linguistic Society. As usual, the @ symbol in people's email addresses has been replaced with -at-, and clicking on any link will open that site in a new window.

Tim Curnow

Minutes of the AGM

Minutes of the Australian Linguistic Society, 2008 Annual General Meeting, 3rd July, University of Sydney

The President opened the meeting at 5:05pm with the following members present: Kate Burridge, Stephanie Hall, Graham McKay, Rob Amery, Mary-Anne Gale, Rachel Nordlinger, Alice Gaby, Felicity Meakins, Farzad Sharifian, Peter Collins, Pam Peters, Michael Walsh, Harold Koch , Carsten Levisen, Tom Honeyman, Joe Blythe, Johanna Rendle-Short, Alec Coupe, Luisa Miceli, Alan Dench, I Wayan Arka, Tom Mylne, Mark Harvey, Claire Bowern, Brett Baker, Margaret Sharpe, Cliff Goddard, Jeff Siegel, Nick Thieberger, Diana Eades, Manabu Kawakatsu, Tim Curnow, Tony Liddicoat, Jeremy Hammond, Aidan Wilson, Constance Braun, Elizabeth Przywolnik, Jessica Boynton, Louise de Beuzeville, Britta Jensen, Anders Ahlqvist, Joshua Nash, Jane Simpson, Doug Absalom, Randy LaPolla, John Henderson, Clodagh Norwood.

1. Apologies

Nick Evans, Ilana Mushin, Keith Allan, Alan Liebert, Michael Clyne, Duk-Soo Park, David Nash, Bill Palmer.

2. Minutes of the 2007 AGM.

The President moved that the minutes of the 2007 AGM, as published in the Newsletter, be accepted. Passed unanimously.

3. Matters arising.

Linguistics in the ERA

Rachel Nordlinger drew attention to the fact that Linguistics had been placed in the Humanities and Creative Arts group for ERA purposes, though in the earlier process Nick Evans had helped to get Linguistics into the social and behavioural sciences group. There was general discussion on whether the Society should make a formal submission on this. The date for comments on the ERA journal rankings has been extended to the end of July.

4. Reports:

4.1 President

The Clyne Prize, established with a donation from Michael Clyne and offered jointly by the ALS and ALAA, provides $1000 and up to $500 expenses for the winner to attend either the ALS or ALAA conference. The Prize has this year been won by Louisa Willoughby of Monash University for her thesis entitled 'You have to speak it at least.'

The Laves Scholarship is open to Honours and Post-graduate students and provides up to $2000 to support field research on a language of the region. It has been awarded this year to Jeremy Hammond of the University of Sydney for Linguistic and Cultural Documentation of the White Sands language of Vanuatu.

The UN is inviting governments, organizations etc to promote languages, including endangered languages, in 2008 UN Year of Languages (under the motto Languages matter). Information is available on the UNESCO International Year of Languages site.

The International Pragmatics Association Conference will be held at Melbourne Uni July 12-17 next year, organised jointly by the Melbourne departments. The theme is Diversity, Content and Structure. The conference will cover a broad range of areas. Participation is encouraged. See the IPrA website for more information.

On behalf of the Society, the President thanked the retiring members of the Executive for their service. Sophie Nichols served two terms as Postgraduate Representative. The Society offered special thanks to Doug Absalom who served as Treasurer for 31 years. The President presented Doug with a token of the Society's gratitude for his many years service as Treasurer.

On behalf of the ALS2007 organisers Mary-Anne Gale offered a belated thanks to Rachel Nordlinger for her plenary address last year. Ian Green was thanked for facilitating this.

Randy reported an offer from Doug Absalom for his Lingua Associates consultancy to continue managing the membership list and subscriptions on a commercial basis at a cost of approximately $3000 plus GST. The Executive suggested a trial for one year until the new Treasurer is established in the position and has had a chance to review options for membership management.
Moved by Randy LaPolla and seconded by John Henderson. Motion passed.

4.2 Secretary

Nothing to report.

4.3 Treasurer

See separate report.

Motion: That the annual membership fees be increased by $10 in all categories, due to the addition of a third issue of AJL each year. The new fees to be: Full $60; Joint $70; Student $30. There will be a discount of $10 for payment before 1st of April.
Moved Doug Absalom. Seconded Randy LaPolla. Passed.

4.4 Journal Editors

Kate reported that issue 28/2 has gone off to Taylor&Francis and reminded members that AJL has gone to 3 issues per year now. There has been a healthy flow of papers. The acceptance rate has been relatively low. The editors expect that they'll move to online submission soon.

The President passed on a message from Alan Libert encouraging members to write reviews for the journal. They can see what books are available for review in the ALS Newsletter.

4.5 Newsletter Editor

Tim reported that the website has been moved from Geocities to a non-free commercial service but reassured members that this would make no difference from the user's point of view. The URL remains the same:

4.6 CIPL Representative

No report received.

4.7 Pacific Linguistics Representative

(Wayan Arka thanked the Society for its financial support.)

4.8 ALS and ALI 2008 Organisers

Pam Peters reported that the level of ALS registrations had been very healthy and thanked the other organisers, especially Louise de Beuzeville, who had all contributed so much time and energy.

Jane Simpson thanked the excellent committee and administrative staff who had assisted in the organisation. There were over 120 registrations excluding presenters and student volunteers.

4.9 ALS 2009 Organisers

Randy LaPolla reported that the La Trobe department and RCLT had jointly agreed to take on the organisation of ALS, in consultation with others in Melbourne.

5. Future ALS Conferences and ALI

The President called for organisers for the next ALI in 2010. There was discussion about different possible models for ALI. Harold Koch spoke of the limited model involving specialist tutorial days. Randy suggested the possibility of state-of-the-art research reports in for example a series of seminars. Jane Simpson said that the float provided by ALS was a bare minimum for hiring the necessary part-time administrative support. She noted that universities do not provide funding for this sort of activity and that ALI needed government funding as in the Dutch system. Pam Peters pointed out that the ALS organization had relied heavily on Louise de Beuzeville's work and that it was this kind of contribution that allowed the registration fees to be kept low. Commercial conference organisers would mean higher fees. The meeting was reminded that, given the necessary lead time, if no organisers came forward in the immediate future ALI could not happen in 2010. Cliff Goddard suggested that the larger research centres at RSPAS and/or RCLT might take it on, perhaps as research master classes. Harold Koch volunteered to consult with colleagues at ANU with a view to hosting ALI in 2010.


Rachel Nordlinger reported that she, Jane Simpson and others had set up the Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiad, on the model of similar European and US competitions. State rounds had been held in Sydney and Melbourne with 60-70 students involved in each state. The national round is coming up. The Olympiad has been very successful so far but the organisers would like to see increased support and wider participation in the organization. They had approached the Executive for funding and been allocated up to $1800. Jane Simpson reported that HCSNet had contributed $10k for this year which was mainly used for administrative costs. Responding to a query from Cliff Goddard, Rachel said that registration was free. In Victoria, the competition had a link to schools via the English Language course at secondary school level. Jane reported that 20 schools had been involved in NSW with the involvement of modern language teachers. Computer Science teachers were also involved. Rachel noted that the Australian Language Technology Association also provided support, noting the computational aspect of the Olympiad. The students involved were from years 9 to 12, but mostly years 10 to 11. There was discussion of avenues for sponsorship: publishers etc. were suggested; Claire Bowern suggested the Australian Computer Society.

Alan Dench suggested that outreach programs in the various universities could be a good way to expand the competition. Rachel reported that the response had been excellent, greater than expected, and that many students had been exposed to Linguistics. The schools involved in both states were varied: state, Catholic and other private schools. 90 schools had been approached in Victoria. An International round is a possibility for the future. Harold Koch asked for a report in the newsletter.

Motion: That up to $10k be allocated, at the discretion of the Executive, for OZCLO.
Moved Michael Walsh. Seconded Nick Thieberger. Passed unanimously.

7. Directory of Programs

Randy reported on discussion at the Heads of Departments meeting about co-operation in offering a broad range of programs. As an initial step, a directory of degree courses offered around the country would be set up on the ALS website. Departments should send information (with links to their webpages). Rachel Nordlinger suggested a call on ALSOnline.

8. ALS Conference Student Scholarships

An initial motion was introduced:
Motion: That funds be allocated for ALS Conference Student Scholarships from any future conference profits returned to the Society. The amount allocated in any year will be at the discretion of the Executive. Applications will be to the conference organisers and the scholarships awarded on the basis of the quality of the abstract submitted. The amounts of the individual scholarships will be at the discretion of the conference organising committee.

Harold Koch suggested that the restriction to future conference profits be removed. There was some discussion of whether the scholarships should also be judged on the basis of the applicants' travel needs. The final form of the motion that was put and passed was as follows:
Motion: That funds be allocated for ALS Conference Student Scholarships. The amount allocated in any year will be at the discretion of the Executive. Applications will be to the conference organisers and the scholarships awarded on the basis of the quality of the abstract submitted and the applicant's travel needs. The amounts of the individual scholarships will be at the discretion of the conference organising committee.

9. Election of Officers

The following members were nominated, and each being the sole nomination for the respective position, they were elected.

  • Vice-President: Ilana Mushin
  • Treasurer: Brett Baker
  • Secretary: John Henderson
  • Associate Secretary (Newsletter Editor): Tim Curnow
  • Postgraduate Student Representative: Tom Honeyman

10. Other business.

Cliff Goddard reminded members that a meeting was to be held in relation to establishing a significant Australian English corpus. This would be a major research infrastructure project and would require a range of expertise. HCSNet may run a development workshop in December.

Harold Koch advertised an ARC-funded PhD scholarship in kinship systems.

The President reported that he had been approached to lend the Society's support to Rodney Huddleston in relation to unfair criticism of some of his contributions in relation to English language teaching in Queensland. Randy asked the meeting's permission to represent the Society in this matter. Brett Baker suggested that Jim Martin and others be approached for their support. Tom Mylne noted that the teaching materials in question were an improvement on previous materials. Alan Dench moved that the meeting authorise the President to act in this matter. The motion was passed unanimously.

Jane Simpson introduced Anders Ahlquist and welcomed him to the Society.

The President closed the meeting at 6:42pm.

Minutes: John Henderson

John Henderson

Treasurer's report

Australian Linguistic Society Inc.
ABN 55 533 808 998
Financial Statement 20/9/2007 - 1/7/2008

Income Expenditure
Membership $9,650:- Lingfest $25,000:-
AJL $6,305:- Invest. Loss $19,152:59
Interest $1,737:08 AJL 27 $11,106:70
    AJL (eds) $633:20
Total           $17,692:08           Laves Schol. $1,000:-
    FEL (07&08)         $500:-
    Treas.Ex's. $600:-
    Website $218:40
    Bank fees $446:21
    Total $58,657:10
  Accumulated funds 20/9/07         $217,891:06  
Deficit 07-08 $40,965:02
Total funds 1/7/08 $176,926:04
Represented by:
Money Management $31,142:94
Invest acct. $87,868:80
Scholarship acct. $43,560:33
Cheque acct. $14,353:97

For my final report, after thirty-one years as treasurer of ALS, the above balance sheet is disappointing, given the success of last year's investment performance. In the past nine months, our ANZ/ING investment has lost just over $19,000, which leaves us effectively with about $200,000 in assets. (The Lingfest float of $25,000 is expected to be refunded.) This, comparatively, is not a disaster, since we've earned much more than that in interest from the investments over the past couple of years; now we're just giving some of it back! I'm assured that we have only been 'singed', rather than burned, as our investment strategies are fairly conservative anyway. Clearly, there have been times when the Society has been worse off; in my first financial statement in 1977 (see next story) the Society was over $100 in the red!!!

Although our current situation might thus still be described as comfortable, the developing ALS programs of scholarship and sponsorship will need the investments to recover quickly and perform well in order to fulfill the Society's plans and expectations. Most market analysts seem confident that this will happen, given time, and that the market fluctuations of the recent past will be overcome.

Part of our Society's growth is to expand AJL to three versions per year from the current two. Our publishers, Taylor & Francis, have been lavish in their praise of recent numbers of the journal (well done, Kate, Keith and Co.!) and fully approve of the expansion, suggesting that the journal is under consideration for a performance award in the coming year. However, the expansion will cost more money, and part of this will need to be passed on to members in the form of a fee rise.

Another Society initiative has been the OZCLO presentations, organized by Jane Simpson and Rachel Nordlinger. Not only is this showing the face of Linguistics to schools and the general public, it has given the organizers an adrenalin boost as well to be part of Linguistics in the lives of young people. Congratulations Jane and Rachel; the Society sees this initiative as being well worth sponsoring in the future. When added to our Laves and Clyne awards, it can be seen that the Society is being very active in the community in supporting such worthwhile projects.

It has been quite a long time since we've had any membership fee increases, but the security of our initiatives depends on having a steady income from membership fees. I thus propose that the new fee structure be as follows:- Full membership $60 per year; Student or concessional membership $30 per year; Joint membership (two members receiving full rights but only one copy of the journal) $70 per year. Early bird payment prior to April 1st each year will attract a $10 discount from any of these fees, thus keeping the increase to only $5.

Finally, may I say that it has been a great privilege to have represented ALS as its treasurer for so long, and to have been able to pass over the books with the Society being still in a 'comfortable' position. I'm not going to disappear into the mist, however, as I will still be chasing people for membership fees and maintaining the membership list, as part of the trial outsourcing of a task that can perhaps no longer be reasonably expected to be done on a voluntary basis. So I will continue to send you email reminders, and to see you at conferences, and I will still have receipt book in hand.

Doug Absalom


Here's the financial statement of the Society the year Doug started as treasurer. Note the 'Balance of accumulated funds as at 1.7.77', when Doug took over!

Linguistic Society of Australia
Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for the Period 1.7.77 to 5.4.78.

Receipts Expenditure
Annual subscriptions $2,538:83 Talanya $1200:-
1977 Conference balance     $383:27 C.I.P.L. $91:47
Interest $35:95 Labov's ex's. $537:-
    Newsletter $26:86
Total           $2,958:05           Stamps & Duty     $38:20
Total $1893:53

Balance of receipts over expenditure:-     $1,064:52.

Funds Statement as at 9.5.78
Balance of accumulated funds as at 1.7.77 $104:12 deficit
Add balance of receipts over expenditure $1,064:52 credit
Add 'other liabilities' from funds statement 30.6.77     1,282:07
Total     $2,242:47
Represented by:-
Bank statement 28.4.78 $2,037:47
plus uncredited deposits $205:-
Total $2,242:47
Subtract other liabilities:-
C.I.P.L. for 1977-8    $91:47
Printing of Talanya 5    $2,000:- $2,091:47
Balance of accumulated funds as at 9.5.78 $151:-
Doug Absalom

Australian Computational and Linguistic Olympiad

The National Round of the Inaugural Computational and Linguistics Olympiad was held at the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney on Wednesday 6th August. The winning teams from the State rounds in both states competed to solve problems in Icelandic agreement, finite state automata, Mayan hieroglyphs, Manam Pile directionals, and spectrograms of English. Competitors ranged from year 10 to year 12, and came from both state and private schools. Thanks to ALS we had food and drinks for the competitors. Thanks to Appen, the Macquarie Dictionary and Franklin Electronic Publishers we have as prizes books and hand-held electronic Macquarie Schools Dictionaries (which include material from the Macquarie Dictionary of Aboriginal languages).

The results will be available on our website in a fortnight.

It was such fun, and the students seemed so pleased and excited by problem solving, that we plan to run the Olympiad again next year. We'd like to hold the event earlier than June/August. But this requires a lot of lead time - letting the schools know, getting them to do training sessions, and so on. We plan to put out soon a call for expressions of interest in being involved in the 2009 Computational and Linguistics Olympiad. In the meantime feel free to join our GoogleGroup for running it: Or else talk to one of us:

  • Dominique Estival (
  • Jean Mulder (
  • Rachel Nordlinger (
  • Jane Simpson (

Jane Simpson

News from the RCLT, La Trobe

Change in management

The Research Centre for Linguistic Typology was founded in 1996 by Professor Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and Professor R. M. W. Dixon as a home for the researchers employed on their grants. During the past eleven years it has been highly successful in guiding the work PhD students and Postdoctoral Research Fellows who have written grammars of many previously undescribed languages in terms of basic typological theory. RCLT has been acclaimed for the fine standard of its monograph publications and for the state-of-the art volumes emanating from the nine International Workshops it has sponsored. Dixon and Aikhenvald have continued to achieve a high rate of success in gaining grants of considerable magnitude.

After eleven years at the helm, as Director and Associate Director, Professor Dixon and Professor Aikhenvald have stepped down from these administrative positions, in order to devote themselves to their own research commitments, to supervising PhD students, and to looking after Research Fellows on their current large grants. Professor Aikhenvald has been appointed Academic Co-ordinator of RCLT.

Professor Randy LaPolla, Chair of Linguistics, has been appointed Director of RCLT.

Major publications

The volume emanating from the International Workshop on Semantics of Clause Linking, edited by Professors R. M.W. Dixon and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, has been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press as volume 5 of the series 'Explorations in Linguistic typology'. The anonymous referees uniformly praised the volume for its outstanding contribution to linguistic science.

The Manambu language of East Sepik, Papua New Guinea, by Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (736 pp+xii) has been published by Oxford University Press. It has been hailed by the Press as 'destined to become a benchmark in the discipline of reference grammatical description' and 'methodological, detailed, clear, complete'. The Australian price is currently at AU$195. Discount forms (valid until 30 October, 20% discount) are available upon request.

The volume Complementation, edited by R. M. W. Dixon and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (hardback edition 2006, Oxford University Press), is coming out as paperback in October 2008.

The volume Grammars in Contact, edited by Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and R. M. W. Dixon (hardback edition 2006, Oxford University Press), is coming out as paperback in second half of October 2008.

Local workshop

A new Local Workshop series will commence on Thursday 21st August. Professor LaPolla will chair an initial discussion on 'Transitivity'. Workshops will be held on Thursdays, 3.30pm - 5pm in the RCLT Reading Room unless otherwise specified. If anyone is interested in presenting a talk as part of this Workshop, please contact Professor LaPolla (

New postdoctoral research fellow

Dr Katerina Zombolou has been apppointed to a three-year Postdoctoral Research Fellow within an ARC Linkage Project 'Speaking Greek in diaspora: language contact, survival, and maintenance', under the leadership of Professors Alexandra Aikhenvald, R.M.W. Dixon and Anastasios M. Tamis (with Professors Peter Trudgill and Michael J. Osborne as Partner Investigators). She will be investigating the impact of language contact on Greek spoken in Argentina, and will commence her fieldwork in November 2008.

New PhD students

David Sangdong has joined us at RCLT. He is in the first year of a three year PhD program working with Professor LaPolla on a grammar of the Kanan language, a Tibeto-Burman language of Burma.

Dionysios Mertyris, who has successfully completed his MA at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, will be arriving on 1 September 2008 to start his three-year PhD course. He will be working with Professor Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald on documenting a previously undescribed language.

Visiting fellows

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

Dr Yongxian Luo, from University of Melbourne, will be spending his sabbatical with us as an Honorary Visiting Fellow at RCLT from August 2008 - January 2009. He will be working on the final draft of a Buyang Dictionary (with grammatical notes) as well as his ARC project. He will also start work on his planned monograph, A Grammar of Zhuang, based on the Fengshan dialect.

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

Research activities

Professor Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald is organizing a Workshop on 'Multi-verb constructions: a view from the Americas' jointly with Professor Pieter Muysken at MPI Nijmegen. The Workshop will take place at MPI Nijmegen on 20 October 2008 (see Call for papers under Conferences below). She will be visiting MPI Leipzig and giving talks there and at Freie Universitaet Berlin, and then giving a plenary talk 'Imperatives: the grammar of a clause type' at the conference on Mood and modality in Omotic languages, organized by Maarten Mous and Azeb Amha (University of Leiden, 23-25 October). She will be giving a series of lectures at various universities in Moscow in late October and early November 2008.

Roberto Zariquiey Biondi, a PhD student, is undertaking fieldwork on Cashibo-Cacataibo (Panoan) in Peru, October 2007 - end August 2008.

Dr Cynthia Schneider, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, is undertaking fieldwork on Kairak, a Baining language from East New Brittain, Papua New Guinea, February 2008 - September 2008.

Dr Mark Post, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, is undertaking fieldwork on the Eastern Tani Languages of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, North East India, June 2008 - December 2008.

Dr Simon Overall, Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the ARC Discovery Project 'Are some languages better than others?' (Under the leadership of Professors R. M. W. Dixon and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald), is undertaking fieldwork on Aguaruna and Huambisa languages in Peru from August 2008 - November 2008.

Dr Georgios Tserdanelis, Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the ARC Linkage Project 'Speaking Greek in diaspora: language contact, survival, and maintenance', under the leadership of Professors Alexandra Aikhenvald, R.M.W. Dixon and Anastasios M. Tamis (with Professors Peter Trudgill and Michael J. Osborne as Partner Investigators), is undertaking fieldwork on Modern Greek and Language Contact, August 2008 - November 2008.

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

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

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

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

Siew-Peng Condon

News from Linguistics, RSPAS, ANU

The Department of Linguistics, RSPAS, ANU hosted the Inaugural Conference of the SHLP (Society for the History of Linguistics in the Pacific) on 1st-2nd August 2008. The conference organisers (William B. McGregor, Hilary Carey, and David Moore) were very pleased with the success of the conference. It was well attended (by over 30 people during the day). The papers covered a wide range of topics in linguistic historiography, revealing that this is an area of burgeoning interest. The conference was followed by a book launch. The book is a new collection of papers Encountering Aboriginal Languages: Studies in the history of Australian linguistics edited by William B. McGregor and published by Pacific Linguistics. In his launch of the book, Nick Evans noted 'a history of neglect and a neglect to history' in work on Indigenous languages in Australia (see for more). Hopefully, this edited volume which represents the first book-length study of the history of research on Australian Aboriginal languages, spanning the period from first settlement to the present day, would fill in some of the gaps.

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

The department was pleased to have Mary Dalrymple (Oxford University) and Miriam Butt (University of Konstanz) as visiting fellows at the department in July 2008 and early August 2008. They were visiting the ANU team (I Wayan Arka and Avery Andrews) to help them work on the morphological analyser and computational grammar development for the Indonesian ParGram (Parallel Grammar) Project. The Indonesian ParGram Project, funded by the ARC Discovery grant, is a collaborative project involving the ANU, Sydney University, Oxford University, and the University of Indonesia Jakarta. Both Mary and Miriam have been involved in the development of the LFG-based computational grammars of English and other languages for over 15 years. Their experience has been of great advantage for the Indonesian ParGram Project. The Indonesian ParGram has made significant progress in the first year, ahead of the schedule in terms of basic constructions covered in the grammar, development of tokeniser and morphological analyser.

All staff members were away on different occasions in May-June. Nick Evans was in Europe visiting MPI and giving a course on language documentation (May to late June), and went to the field in the Arnhem land (9th -29th July 2008). Wayan Arka was in Flores Indonesia for his Voice Project (funded an NSF grant). John Bowden was Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia (mid June-early July) for his ELDP Helong project.

Wayan Arka

News from Linguistics, La Trobe

Randy J. LaPolla has been appointed Director of the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology, while maintaining most of his activities as Chair of Linguistics.

Tonya Stebbins had a productive six-month OSP, and completed her three-volume set on the Mali language of East New Britain, Papua New Guinea. The Mali Grammar, Mali Dictionary and Mali Texts are now with Pacific Linguistics and are expected to appear in early 2009.

Alec Coupe took up a one-year fixed-term appointment as Lecturer in Linguistics. He is also editing a special issue of the journal Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area on nominalization, due out in October.

Namgay Thinley submitted his MA thesis 'Dzongkha Nominalization'. The Dzongkha language is a member of the Tibeto-Burman language family and the national language of the Himalayan country Bhutan. The thesis includes a general introduction to the language (socio-cultural background and genetic affiliations), structure of the noun phrase and its constituents, and the types of nominalization found in Dzongkha. Basically, two levels of nominalization have been discussed: one at the word or lexical level and the other at the clause level. At the lexical level, the simple nominalizers, mostly suffixing in nature, include nominalizations, core argument nominalizations (agent, patient, and object), and oblique nominalizations (locative, manner, time, reason, and instrumental). At the clause level, nominalization in relative clauses, complement clauses, and adverbial clauses is explored. Namgay has returned to his job with the Dzongkha Development Authority in Bhutan.

Randy LaPolla

Upcoming Conferences

Call: Im/politeness across Englishes

Call for papers for panel on 'Im/politeness across Englishes' at the 11th International Pragmatics Association Conference (Melbourne, 12-17 July 2009)

Organizers: Michael Haugh (Griffith University) and Derek Bousfield (University of Central Lancashire)

It is frequently acknowledged and fundamentally accepted that while there is indeed a common thread of mutual intelligibility throughout the many existing varieties of English throughout the world today, differences do also exist between such varieties (hence, indeed, the very term 'varieties'). These differences are usually characterised by both professional and lay observers of the English language(s) sociolinguistically, that is, the differences are characterized primarily in terms of variation perceived and identified in accents, syntactic structures and lexical choices. Recent calls for more attention to be paid to differences in pragmatics across varieties of English, however, whilst muted, have been heard within the emerging, nascent fields of variational pragmatics (Barron 2005; Barron and Schneider 2005; Schneider and Barron 2008) and ethnopragmatics (Goddard 2006).

In early work on politeness, Brown and Levinson (1987) attempted to capture differences between Standard American English and Standard British English (in addition to other languages) through their distinction between positive and negative politeness. However, the explanatory power of this binary distinction decreases when one considers other varieties of English across and within their 'host' cultures, and the kinds of im/politeness that can arise within them. For instance, how is im/politeness understood and communicated within other varieties of English, for example, Australian English, New Zealand English, Canadian English, Irish English, Singaporean English, Indian English, South African English, Scottish English, Welsh English and so on? The picture becomes increasingly complex when one starts to consider possible regional differences in im/politeness (Northern Irish English vs. Eire English; Northern and Southern English dialects in the UK), and also how im/politeness may vary across the various 'social strata' within each variety. In emphasizing universality, then, Brown and Levinson's theory of politeness, whilst an invaluable and insightful 'way in', has not allowed sufficient space for researchers to explore variation in im/politeness across Englishes.

Recent developments in im/politeness research over the past decade, however, have opened up new possibilities for investigating such questions. First, there has an important move to studying not only politeness, but also impoliteness (Bousfield 2008; Bousfield and Locher 2008; Culpeper 1996, 2005; Eelen 2001, amongst others). Second, there has been a shift to theorizing im/politeness as evaluations of self (group)/other (group), which draw from expectations about (in)appropriate behaviour 'shared' across speakers (Eelen 2001; Haugh and Hinze 2003; Mills 2003; Spencer-Oatey 2005; Watts 2003). Third, there has been a shift to studying im/politeness (evaluations) as they emerge in (different types of) interaction (Arundale 2006; Bousfield 2008; Haugh 2007; Locher and Watts 2005). Finally, im/politeness research has increasingly drawn from larger corpora of interactions, opening up the possibility for generalizations across speakers and situations to be made with greater confidence (Holmes and Schnurr 2005; Terkourafi 2005; Usami 2006). In light of these emerging trends in im/politeness research, we believe the groundwork has been laid for researchers with a particular interest in English to explore sociopragmatic variation in im/politeness across Englishes. While this panel is not intended to be restricted to any single theoretical or methodological approach, contributions will only be accepted that (1) attend to one or more the trends in im/politeness research identified above, and (2) draw from interactional and/or corpus data.

If you are interested in contributing a paper to this panel please send a 600 word abstract to Michael Haugh ( and Derek Bousfield ( by 15th September 2008.

Michael Haugh

Call: International Symposium on the languages of Java

First call for abstracts for ISLOJ 2, the Second International Symposium on the Languages of Java, to be held 4-5 June 2009 at the Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort, Senggigi, Lombok, Indonesia

Keynote Speakers:

  • Dr Thomas Hunter: The interaction of irrealis with the symmetrical voice system of Old Javanese
  • Dr Husni Muadz, Universitas Negri Mataram: A topic on Sasak TBA

The island of Java is home to several major languages. Javanese - spoken mainly in Central and East Java - is the world's 10th or 11th largest language in number of native speakers. It has one of the oldest and fullest recorded histories of any Austronesian language. It also has been of considerable interest to scholars because of the system of speech levels or speech styles found in a number of varieties of Javanese. Sundanese - spoken in West Java - has over 27 million speakers, and Madurese - spoken on the neighboring island of Madura and throughout parts of East Java - has over 13 million speakers. Varieties of both of these languages have speech level systems and such systems can also be found in the geographically, historically, and linguistically related languages on the neighboring islands of Bali and Lombok. Each of these languages displays a range of dialects, isolects, continua, and contact varieties and yet they have received relatively little attention from linguists. With this symposium, we offer an opportunity for scholars working on any aspect of Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese, Balinese and Sasak to come together and share their findings. We aim to encourage and promote continued research on these important and unique languages.

Abstracts are invited for papers to be presented on any linguistic topics dealing with the languages of Java and its environs - Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese, Balinese, and Sasak. Given the location of the conference, papers on Sasak are especially encouraged. Papers on other languages will be judged according to their relevance to the symposium topic. Papers are welcome from any subfield of linguistics and using any approach or theoretical background. Studies of non-standard(ized) versions, dialects, and isolects, including contact varieties, are particularly welcome. All papers are to be presented in English.

Persons wishing to present papers at the symposium are invited to submit a one-page [data and references may be on a second page] abstract in electronic form (PDF AND MSWord) to Thomas Conners at the following address:

Deadline for submission of abstracts: March 1, 2009

Please note that the 13th International Symposium on Malay-Indonesian Linguistics (ISMIL 13) will be held immediately following ISLOJ, also at the Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort, on 6-7 June, 2009. For more information see

Co-sponsors: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology & Universitas Katolik Indonesia Atma Jaya


  • Thomas Conners, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
  • J. Joseph Errington, Yale University
  • Zane Goebel, Nagoya University
  • Effendi Kadarisman, Universitas Negri Malang
  • Yacinta Kurniasih, Monash University

For more information see

Zane Goebel

Call: The diachrony of classification systems

Recent years have seen much work directed at the study of classifiers in languages (Aikhenvald 2000, Senft 2000, Grinevald and Seifart 2004, Seifart and Payne 2007). Most of this work, however, has focused on typological and synchronic aspects of classifier systems. In this conference we would like to bring together scholars who are interested in looking at the ways in which linguistic classifications arise, change, or disappear again. What is the role of diffusion in such processes? What can be diffused - for instance, is it possible for the idea of classifier systems to be diffused, or must forms also be diffused? Are there generalizations to be made about the sorts of semantic distinctions expected to be found in more vs. less grammaticalised systems of classification? How does a system of classification treat 'intrusive' items from a different cultural group, or new items from within? How stable are systems of classification over time, including in extraordinary circumstances such as language attrition?We are not only interested in linguistic classification systems such as numeral classifiers, noun classes, and verbal classifiers but also more broadly in classification systems overall, i.e. including script classifiers (e.g., Egyptian, Chinese or Maya writing), ontologies, ethnobotanical classification system, etc.

Plenary speakers:

  • Eva Schultze-Berndt (The University of Manchester)
  • Frank Seifart (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

Please send a 300-500 word abstract by 1st September, 2008 to and Notification of acceptance will be by 30th September, 2008.

The conference is held under the auspices of the five-year project "Stability and adaptation of classification systems in a cross-cultural perspective" supported by the European Science Foundation (COST Action A31).

Venue: Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS), Wassenaar (16 km from Leiden)

Dates: March 12-13, 2009

Organizers: Søren Wichmann (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Leiden University, William B. McGregor (University of Aarhus)

Contact: Søren Wichmann ( or Bill McGregor

Bill McGregor

Call: Talk-in-interaction in (Australian) Indigenous Communities

Panel at 11th International Pragmatics Conference to be held in Melbourne, Australia, 12-17 July 2009

Recent research has highlighted the growing interest in the analysis of interaction in Australian Indigenous communities. A variety of research methodologies have been utilised, including conversation analysis (CA) and interactional linguistics. In this spirit, we are putting forward a panel entitled Talk-in-interaction in (Australian) Indigenous Communities at the 11th International Pragmatics Conference to be held in Melbourne, 12 - 17 July 2009.

The panel aims to explore the nature of talk-in-interaction in Australian Indigenous communities, and through this to explore the extent to which practices of communication in conversational interaction align with, or are at variance with, practices observed in other cultural settings. Through the panel we hope to

  • showcase conversation analytic research on talk in Indigenous communities;
  • attract the interest of other researchers interested in interaction studies, including CA, as well as linguists and sociolinguists working with Australian Indigenous languages.

Abstracts of 500 words are invited for 20 minute presentations on any aspect of talk-in-interaction in Australian Indigenous communities. Topics might include sequence organisation, turn-taking, turn design (including distribution and functions of grammatical/lexical expressions in conversation), repair mechanisms, and analysis of actions performed through talk. As the focus is on language use in communities, papers can examine conversations in traditional languages, creole languages, Aboriginal English, or mixtures of all of these. Papers adopting a CA framework (in part or in whole) are especially encouraged.

Abstracts should be sent electronically to Johanna Rendle-Short ( by Monday September 15th 2008. Participants will be notified in mid-October.

Panel organisers: Johanna Rendle-Short, Rod Gardner, Ilana Mushin

Johanna Rendle-Short

Call: Multi-verbal constructions, a view from the Americas

20 October 2008, Max-Planck Institute Nijmegen


  • Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, La Trobe University, Australia
  • Pieter Muysken, Radboud University, Nijmegen

This one-day workshop focuses on multi-verb constructions in languages of the Americas. Our primary interest involves monoclausal multi-verb constructions such as:

  • Serial verb constructions understood a sequence of verbs which act together as a single predicate, without any overt marker of coordination, subordination or syntactic dependency of any other sort. Serial verb constructions are monoclausal; their intonational properties are the same as those of a monoverbal clause, and they have one tense, aspect and polarity value. Serial verb constructions forming one phonological and one grammatical word are often called verb compounding (see Aikhenvald 2006; Martins 2004; de Reuse 2006; Senft, in press; Zavala 2000).
  • Auxiliary verb constructions consisting of a combination of an auxiliary, defined as a closed subclass of verbs which (a) form part of one complex predicate in combination with verb from a large open class; (b) take the person, number, gender, aspect, tense, mood and modality specifications; and (c) impart a modal or an aspectual meaning to the whole construction (see Payne and Payne 1990: 413-16; Adelaar and Muysken 2004). In other languages (e.g. Arawá: Dixon 2004), auxiliaries bear inflectional markers for verbs which cannot take inflection directly.
  • Light verb or support verb constructions, consisting of a non-verbal element (including ideophones and onomatopoeia) which combines with the verb for it to be able to act as a predicate (as in Cavineña: Guillaume 2004).
  • Converb constructions consisting of a dependent verb form and an inflected verb and acting as a single predicate (as in Ometo and Wolaitta, both Afroasiatic: Amha and Dimmendaal 2006).
  • Bipartite stems consisting of two morphemes, at least one of which marks manner, means or location/direction, and cannot occur on its own, having grammaticalized from a verbal root (see Jacobsen 1980; DeLancey 1999).
  • Parameters of variation include: (i) semantic and morphosyntactic classes of verbs involved in the formation of a multi-verb structure; (ii) argument structure of components and of the whole multi-verb construction (this is particularly relevant for serial verbs); (iii) reinterpretation and potential lexicalization; (iv) functions and meanings; and (v) polyfunctionality (the same verb occurring as an auxiliary and as a support verb).

    Multiclausal structures - such as subordinate clauses and clause chains - may develop into monoclausal multi-verb constructions (see Davies 1998, on the formation of Chocktaw progressive). Components of monoclausal multi-verb structures may develop into affixal markers of aspect, valency changing, associated motion, and more.

    It has been noted that serial verb constructions show semantic and functional similarities with other multi-verb constructions, both monoclausal and biclausal. These similarities justify considering each multi-verb construction as part of a multidimensional continuum. Diachronically speaking, links can be established connecting focal points on this continuum (so, for instance, the existence of special marker of serial verb constructions in Urarina (Olawsky 2006: 629-50) indicates that they may have come from multi-verb structures of a different, non-serial, kind).

    Last but not least: we endeavour to address the issue of diffusability of multi-verb constructions, and their correlations with other areal features which can be established within the Americas.

    Abstracts (no longer than a page) are invited, for 30 minutes talks (20 minutes presentations and 10 minutes discussion). We welcome papers on any languages from the Americas. Abstracts can be sent electronically to and before 10 September 2008, mentioning 'Abstract Multi-Verb' in the Subject field.

    Siew-Peng Condon

    Jobs, grants, and scholarships

    Lecturer in Linguistics, UNE

    Lecturer in Linguistics (3 year fixed-term)

    School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences, University of New England

    The School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences is seeking to appoint a linguist (applied or general) within the Linguistics discipline. Linguistics at UNE has a very active research culture, encompassing international, regional and local projects. Linguistics is a core member of UNE's Language and Cognition Research Centre Further information about Linguistics at UNE can be found at

    The position is for a fixed-term period of three years with the possibility of further appointment subject to satisfactory performance and availability of funding.

    Applicants must have a demonstrated ability to teach a variety of UNE's existing units in applied and general linguistics at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. (See list at Units are taught both on-campus and in external (distance) mode, with a strong emphasis on online delivery. The applicant will also be required to supervise research students in areas appropriate to the applicant's specialisation, and contribute to the research culture of the discipline.

    This position would ideally suit someone who wishes to retain their career focus while also having the desire for a lifestyle change in beautiful Armidale, New England. Armidale is surrounded by world heritage national parks, is only 2 hours from the mid north coast and is a unique regional centre that offers all the facilities of a city. Recognised as a centre of culture, Armidale is well served for art, music, theatre and education, both public and private. KMPG demographer Bernard Salt has rated Armidale in the top 10 boom towns in Australia due to construction and education.

    Essential selection criteria

    1. A PhD in applied linguistics or linguistics;
    2. A demonstrated research profile or clear research potential relative to opportunity in an area relevant to the linguistics program;
    3. Demonstrated ability to teach applied linguistics and general linguistics units;
    4. High level demonstrated written and oral communication skills;
    5. High level demonstrated interpersonal skills and ability to work harmoniously in a team;
    6. Demonstrated awareness and commitment to Equity, EEO and OH&S principles as they apply to this position.

    Desirable selection criteria

    1. Experience in distance education;
    2. Skills in online/multimedia curriculum development;
    3. Experience in degree coordination;
    4. Qualifications or experience in TESOL;
    5. Experience in administrative duties;
    6. Experience in successful HDR supervision;
    7. Experience in successful research grant applications.

    Informal enquiries may be directed to Professor Kerry Carrington, ph: (02) 6773 3519 or email: or Dr Liz Ellis, ph: (02) 6773 3639 or email:

    Salary: $68,796 to $81,535 per annum (Lecturer), plus 17% employer superannuation and optional salary packaging

    Closing Date: 8 September 2008

    Reference No: 208/086

    An application package, including selection criteria that must be addressed, may be obtained from or by phoning Human Resource Services, (02) 6773 3972. Applications will be received up to 5pm on the closing date.

    Liz Ellis

    About ALS

    The Australian Linguistic Society is the national organization for linguists and linguistics in Australia. Its primary goal is to further interest in and support for linguistics research and teaching in Australia. Further information about the Society is available by clicking here.

    The ALS Newsletter is issued four times per year, in the middle of February, May, August and November. Copy for the Newsletter should be sent to the Editor, Tim Curnow ( by the end of the first week of February, May, August and November. There is a list of people who are automatically advised that it's time to contribute material; if you wish to be added to that list, send Tim an email.

    Unless you paid for several years at a time, or have given the Treasurer your credit card details and permission to use it, subscriptions for ALS are due at the beginning of each calendar year; the year you are paid up to is shown on the address label on the envelope your copy of the Australian Journal of Linguistics comes in. A subscription form is available by clicking here.

    The only membership list is maintained by the Treasurer, Doug Absalom ( If you wish to check your membership status, change your address or make some other enquiry, please contact Doug.