Seminars in semester 2, 2014

Our seminar program for semester 2 2014 consists of the following presentations:


September 16       How does Hoava have a VP? Who cares?

Bill Palmer (University of Newcastle)

September 23       ‘Magnificence of promises’–Johnson, advertising and  the anodyne necklace

Kate Burridge (Monash University)

October 14           ‘Multiplicity’ as a view of the communicative repertoire          

Howard Nicholas (LaTrobe University)

Seminars take place in Room, E561, Menzies (Building 11) at 11am-12:30pm, followed by lunch and drinks

All welcome!

Further information


Monash Linguistics rates highly

We are delighted to be able to report that linguistics at Monash has been ranked 17th in the world by QS World University Rankings.


PhD Top-up scholarship in Linguistics within cross-corpus DoBeS project on three-participant events

PhD Top-up scholarship in Linguistics within cross-corpus DoBeS project on three-participant events

Faculty/School: Faculty of Arts, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics
Location:   Clayton Campus, Melbourne, Australia
Scholarship tenure:     3 years full time, beginning in 2014
Scholarship value: $6,750 per annum (conditions apply)
Laptop & standard software up to a value of $1700

Closing Date:              31 October 2013

The project Cross-linguistic patterns in the encoding of three-participant events  started in June 2013 as a cross-corpus project of the Documentation of Endangered Languages Program (DoBeS) of the Volkswagen Foundation (; chief investigator: Anna Margetts (Monash University), co-applicants: Nikolaus Himmelmann (University of Cologne) and Katharina Haude (CNRS, Paris). We are inviting applications for a second PhD Top-up scholarship within the project.

Project summary: The project investigates the linguistic encoding of events which involve three participants. It brings together three areas of study: the encoding of three-participant events, the typological parameter of basic valence orientation, and the field of text-based typology. (For more details see the project description further below).

PhD project: The PhD project will be concerned with the encoding of three-participant events and basic valence orientation, either (a) across the participating DoBeS language projects, (b) across a larger sample of languages or (c) in an individual language, e.g. on the basis of original fieldwork.

Candidate Requirements: Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in linguistics, together with a first-class Honours or Master’s degree. They are expected to have a strong background in linguistic typology and the morpho-syntactic analysis of natural language data, preferably of under-documented non-Indo-European languages. Experience in working with linguistic text corpora of spoken language and with software programs such as ELAN and TOOLBOX is desirable. The successful applicant will take on selected research and administrative tasks within the project.

The successful applicant will be part of a research group investigating three-participant events from a cross-linguistic perspective which will include the three project investigators, representatives of the participating DoBeS teams and a further PhD student working in the project. They will be based in the Linguistics Program at Monash University which has a strong research track-record in linguistic analysis and documentation, in particular of languages of Austronesia and Australia. The supervision team will include Anna Margetts and other members of the Linguistics Program. Consult the websites below for further information:

Candidates will be based at Monash’s Clayton Campus and will be expected to start by early  2014. The top-up scholarship will be contingent on the candidate successfully applying for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) or Monash Graduate Scholarship (MGS). More information on these scholarships:

International students should note that the scholarship does not cover foreign-student tuition fees. However, for outstanding applicants there is opportunity to apply for additional tuition fee scholarships. Interested applicants are strongly advised to refer to the website below for more information. Candidates will be required to meet Monash entry requirements which may include English language skills.

How to apply

  • Send the following documentation as email attachments by 31 October 2013 to Anna Margetts: “PhD Top-up” in the subject line):
    • a covering letter outlining relevant training and experience and stating the language(s) you intend to work on 
    • CV 
    • academic transcripts 
  • Apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) or Monash Graduate Scholarship (MGS) by 31 October 2013 (

Further funding possibilities: PhD candidates are eligible to apply for additional funding, including for conference travel and fieldwork support, from a range of sources:
• Monash University: 
• Faculty of Arts: 
• School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics: 
• Linguistics Program

Project description: The project investigates the linguistic encoding of events which involve three participants. It brings together three areas of study: the encoding of three-participant events, the typological parameter of basic valence orientation, and the field of text-based typology.

In recent years the topic of three-participant events has received growing attention. Such events include any scenario involving three participants, e.g. those encoded by transactional verbs like ‘give’ and ‘show’, placement verbs like ‘put’, and benefactive constructions like ‘do something for someone’. There is considerable variation cross-linguistically as well as within individual languages in how the three involved participants are encoded.

Earlier work on three-participant events tends to focus on syntactic three-place predicates, i.e. constructions with three syntactic arguments. Some of the more recent studies, including Margetts and Austin (2007), investigate a fuller range of linguistic strategies for encoding such events, including three-place predicates and their subtypes but also a range of functional alternative constructions many of which are syntactically two-place but express a third participant by other means – morphological, syntactic or pragmatic. (Examples of alternative strategies include, e.g. clauses with two-place predicates which encode a recipient by means of directional markers, or a beneficiary by means of possessive morphology.)

The project investigates three-participant events from a cross-linguistic and text-based perspective focusing on DoBeS corpus data from Austronesian (Oceanic and non-Oceanic) and Papuan languages and from languages of North and South America. It will address two sets of topics: 
(A) Morpho-syntactic strategies for encoding three-participant events and their pairing with semantic event types:

  • What strategies for encoding three-participant events exist in the sample languages and what is their relative frequency? 
  • Are there correlations between semantic event types and specific morpho-syntactic encoding strategies?
  • Do certain strategies tend to co-occur in a language and is it possible to identify language types on this basis?
  • Is it possible to formulate any implicational hierarchies?
  • Can the morpho-syntactic strategies listed in Margetts and Austin (2007) be extended by further types or sub-types?

(B) Possible correlations between the encoding of three-participant events and the classification of a language in terms of basic valence orientation, in the sense of Nichols et al. (2004):

  • Are there any correlations between a language’s classification in terms of its basic valence orientation (as transitivising or detransitivising, etc.), and the set of strategies which are found in the language or which are most commonly employed for the expression of three-participant events?

By investigating both three-participant events and the parameter of basic valence orientation the project brings together two independent areas of study which are important in their own right and which have not been previously researched in relation to each other. If typological parameters like basic valence orientation and choice of encoding strategies for three-participant events can be shown to be connected and form a network of interrelated features this would open a new field of investigation in terms of lexical and grammatical expressions of valence and strengthen the parameters’ scientific importance, typological value and scope. The project applies methodologies of text-based typology to the study of three-participant events and basic valence orientation which allows us to address questions which could not be answered by earlier approaches.

Margetts, Anna and Austin, Peter K. (2007). “Three-participant events in the languages of the world: towards a cross-linguistic typology.” Linguistics 45(3): 393-452.

Nichols, Johanna, David A. Peterson, and Jonathan Barnes. (2004). “Transitivizing and detransitivizing languages.” Linguistic Typology 8: 149-211.


Monash Linguistics Seminars 2013, Semester 1

Tuesdays, 11.00am-12:30pm
Room E561, Building 11 (Menzies)
Followed by lunch & coffee in the Staff Club
(You can also bring your own food to the club).
All welcome!


12 March  
Jonathon Lum & Isabelle Burke (Monash University)
Annual honours prizes and presentations 

26 March
Mike Balint (Monash University)
The puzzle of mental representations in language use

10 April
Victor Friedman (University of Chicago) *Special Wednesday afternoon seminar*
Evidentiality, Narrativity, and the Balkan Sprachbund                                   

30 April    
Howard Manns (Monash University)
Resolving the ideological tensions of commodified form and function 

14 May
Ruth Singer (University of Melbourne)
The more things change, the more they stay the same: multilingual practices at Warruwi Community 

28 May
Simon Overall (La Trobe University)
Multiple and Differentially Marked Objects in Aguaruna (Jivaroan): What’s up with that?


March 12, 2013

Special Honours seminar
(Monash University)

This is an opportunity for the linguistics program to showcase its top students of 2012.  Firstly, the program will present the annual Linguistics Program Honours Prizes.  These will be presented to our two top-performing students at the Honours level.  Secondly, these students will present the findings of their theses. Jonathon Lum and Isabelle Burke were 2012’s Honours Prize winners.

Isabelle Grace BURKE

This thesis is an overview of syntactic negation strategies in modern Australian English. The phenomenon of the Jespersen Cycle of negation is well known: minimisers such as French pas ‘step’ are recruited for emphasis and subsequently reanalysed as the negator, eventually triggering the old negator’s omission. Recently, efforts have been made to align developments in British and American English negation with this model, such as Cheshire’s description (1998) of the punctual never (e.g. I never went to school today) and Hoeksema’s investigation (2009) of the reanalysis of taboo ‘minimisers’ such as jack all as negators. Anderwald (2002) has also examined forms such as invariant ain’t and don’t and negative concord in British English, arguing that they are functionally motivated, as well as being efforts to move towards greater typological normality. As yet, Australian English negation has been unexamined. 

This study investigates these constructions and others in Australian English using the conversational data of the Griffith, Monash and ICE-Aus corpora, analysing 5749 tokens of negation in total. A picture of surprising conservatism emerges: multiple negation and invariant forms are rare, as is the punctual never, contra Kortmann and Szmrecsanyi (2004). This paucity indicates not only the stigma attached to some of these constructions, but also prompts a reimagining of the two schools of thought on the Jespersen cycle, informed by Yaeger-Dror’s findings on the contraction of negation being less face- threatening in conversational contexts (1998). While taboo ‘minimisers’ have been reanalysed in some cases, the data shows that the role of multiple negation is less prominent than has been claimed, and also suggests that the absence of an article is especially propitious for syntactic reanalysis.   

Jonathon Lum

Studies of euphemism and its counterpart, dysphemism, have typically stressed that a range of linguistic devices are used in the creation of new ‘X-phemisms’ (e.g., Allan & Burridge 1991: 14-20); however, these studies have focused almost entirely on lexical and semantic techniques rather than morphosyntactic ones.

I defend Allan and Burridge’s (2006: 90-111) claim that non-discriminatory or ‘politically correct’ (PC) language is euphemistic, and argue that the grammatical constructions promoted by PC guidelines (e.g., Pauwels 1991) are therefore euphemistic too, while non-PC morphosyntax is dysphemistic. In particular, I examine the morphosyntax of labels for a range of stigmatised minority groups (including minorities of sexuality, religion, disability, and others). Data is drawn from a corpus of transcripts of Insight, a popular television discussion program, as well as from an online survey investigating the perceived (im)politeness of various labelling constructions.

 The survey results reveal that regardless of the minority group being labelled, postmodifying constructions (e.g., person with a disability) are considered the most ‘polite’ or euphemistic, followed by premodifiers (e.g., disabled person), nouns (e.g., the disabled), and finally shortened or diminutive forms (e.g., crips, oldies), which are the most likely to be considered offensive. However, the Insight data suggests that in polite, public discourse, speakers tend to focus on avoiding the most dysphemistic constructions rather than actively using the most ‘polite’ forms available. Nonetheless, the Insight and survey data together show that X-phemisms for minority groups are characterised as much by morphosyntactic choices as by lexical or semantic ones.  

March 26, 2013

Mike Balint
(Monash University)
The puzzle of mental representation in language use

What can we safely infer about the nature of mental representations in language usage? The talk will walk us through the processes of producing and comprehending utterances and connected discourse, pausing along the way to consider (1) the nature of cognitive plausibility and the role of cybernetics in modelling mental representations in language usage; (2) the relationship between linguistically nonencoded (or ‘wordless’) thought, executive intention, the utterance, and its context; (3) the processes of encoding the mental representation of an intended utterance into the mental representation of a sentence utilising the mental representations of common ground, discourse context and the structures and networks of the mentally represented lexicon – or lexicons in the case of multilinguals; (4) the processes of converting the mental representation of an intended sentence into a physically transmissible and mentally interpretable string of language signals; (5) the processes of parsing and decoding the physical string of language signals into a mental representation of the intended sentence and then into a reasonable facsimile of the originally intended utterance; and (6) the role of complex translation – and of complex writing in general – in facilitating insight into the puzzle of mental representations in language usage.

April 10, 2013* Wednesday afternoon

Victor Friedman
(University of Chicago)
Evidentiality, Narrativity, and the Balkan Sprachbund

This talk will contribute to the discussion of how so-called universals (typology) and language contact (areal linguistics) can be used in a nuanced fashion, and without conflation, to account for language change. Features of the Balkan languages, some from my recent field work and not described in standard Balkan linguistic handbooks, will serve as examples. 

April 30, 2013

Howard Manns
(Monash University)
Resolving the ideological tensions of commodified form and function

This talk explores the mobilisation of non-standard language styles as marketable commodities and how this results in socio-cultural tensions (cf. Heller, 2010; Agha, 2011).  I then outline how these tensions are resolved among Indonesian media outlets and audiences, with a particular focus on linguistic form and function.   

This talk begins by reviewing the use of language styles to sell lifestyle formulations (e.g. ‘coolness’, ‘rebellion’) (Agha, 2011).  I briefly outline how this comes into tensions with standard language ideologies and next establish how this problematizes language and authenticity (Heller, 2010).  

I then explore how these tensions emerge and are resolved in a shifting language situation in urban Java.  I focus on the commodification of language at three local radio stations as well as the perception of this language by targeted audiences.  Interviews and an analysis of the broadcasts reveal tensions along two dimensions.  Firstly, stations see a commercial need for non-standard language but realise this comes into tension with standard language ideology.  Secondly, stations use language styles linked with ‘outgroups’ (e.g. English speakers) but grapple with how this comes into conflict with a local sense of Javanese identity. 

Resolving these tensions entails a careful focus on the selection of forms and their perceived functions within the local community.  This talk positions this focus and resolution at the nexus of pragmatic salience (cf. Errington, 1985), indexicality (cf. Silverstein, 2003) and the notion of the ‘commodity register’ (Agha, 2011).


Agha, A. (2011). Commodity registers. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 21(1): 22-53

Errington, J. (1985). On the nature of the sociolinguistic sign: Describing the Javanese speech levels. In E. Mertz (Ed.), Semiotic Mediation: Sociocultural and Psychological Perspectives (pp. 287-310). London: Academic Press.

Heller, M. (2010).  The commodification of language. Annual Review of Anthropology, 39: 101-114.

Silverstein, M. (2003). Indexical order and the dialectics of sociolinguistic life. Language and Communication, 23(3-4): 193-229. 

May 14, 2013

Ruth Singer
(University of Melbourne)
The more things change, the more they stay the same: multilingual practices at Warruwi Community

Warruwi Community, Arnhem Land is one of the few places left in Australia where children grow up speaking numerous Australian Indigenous languages. This situation, which was apparently the norm before White contact, is often referred to as traditional multilingualism (Brandl & Walsh 1982, Wilkins & Nash 2008,). However, the term traditional multilingualism has also used to describe the linguistic practices of highly multilingual communities in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and South American (Aikhenvald 2002, de Vries 2012, Francois 2012). What all these communities seem to have in common is:

  • Community members each speak a number of Indigenous languages
  • Each Indigenous languages has a small numbers of speakers (<5000)
  • Marriages between people with different main languages is common
  • Multiple languages are used within each family 

Traditional multilingualism has come into the spotlight of international debates addressing questions such as: Why do smaller languages seem to have higher levels of complex linguistic features than larger features? (Lupyan & Dale 2010) and Were processes of language change in human prehistory different to those we can observe now? (Trudgill 2011). Some of the claims made in these debates rest on the nature of traditional multilingualism, thought to have been the norm in the small-scale human societies that existed througout much of human history. However we have very little detailed information about the practice of traditional multilingualism. In addition, it seems to be rapidly declining around the world, in tandem with the decline in the world’s linguistic diversity. This talk discusses the language practices associated with multlingualism at Warruwi Community with a view to developing a more sophisticated account of ‘traditional multilingualism’.

The term traditional multilingualism lacks a precise definition and is often used in relation to fairly anecdotal reports. The term egalitarian multilingualism suggested by Francois (2012) in relation to accounts of some Vanuatu communities could form the basis for a more precise defintion. The term egalitarian multilingualism contrasts the relatively equal social status of small Indigenous languages to one another with the more commonly studied situation of diglossia. Diglossia is a term that refers to languages in an unequal power relationship; one language such as English is tightly connected to institutional power, whereas another language such as Italian as spoken in Australia, is not connected to institutional power.  The term diglossia encompasses the vast bulk of studies on multilingualism to date: relations between national languages and languages used by minorities, be they migrants or Indigenous people. The term ‘egalitarian multilingualism’ provides a neat opposition to diglossia. The connections between Indigenous languages to institutional power where they occur in Australia, tend to be relatively informal. A focus on egalitarian multilingualism reveals a need for work that ignores the national language and looks instead at the relationships that Indigenous languages have with one another.

This talk looks at the relationships between Indigenous languages at Warruwi Community. Although the set of languages spoken at Warruwi Community has changed since White contact, the way that multilingualism is practiced seems to reflect long standing practices underpinned by persisting language ideologies and attitudes to multilingualism. Refinements are proposed to Francois’ (2012) definition of egalitarian multilingualism to make it a more useful term. This refined definition may not apply to all the communities that have been said to practice ‘traditional multilingualism’. 

Aikhenvald, Alexandra (2002). ‘Traditional Multilingualism and Language Endangerment’, pp. 24-33 of Language Maintenance for endangered languages: an active approach, edited by David Bradley and Maya Bradley. London: Curzon Press.

Brandl, M. M. & Michael Walsh (1982). Speakers of many tongues: toward understanding multilingualism among Aborginal Australians. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 36: 71-81.

De Vries, Lourens (2012). Speaking of clans: language in Awyu-Ndumut communities of Indonesian West Papua. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 214: 5-26.

Di Carlo, Pierpaolo (forthcoming). Multilingualism, solidarity and magic: new perspectives on language ideology in the Cameroonian grassfields.

Francois, Alex (2012). The dynamics of linguistic diversity: egalitarian multilingualism and power imbalance among northern Vanuatu languages. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 214: 85-110.

Lupyan, G. & R. Dale (2010). Language structure is partly determined by social structure. PLoS One 5.1: e8559.

Trudgill, Peter (2011). Sociolinguistic typology: the social determinants of linguistic complexity. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press.

Wilkins, David P & David Nash (2008). The European ‘discovery’ of a multilingual Australia: the linguistic and ethnographic successes of a failed expedition. In McGregor, William (ed.) The history of research on Australian Aboriginal languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. 485–50. 

May 28, 2013

Simon Overall
(La TrobeUniversity)
Multiple and Differentially Marked Objects in Aguaruna (Jivaroan): What’s up with that?

Simon Overall, La Trobe University 

Aguaruna is a Jivaroan language spoken mainly in Amazonas, Peru. Morphologically it is suffixing and agglutinating and shows both head and dependent marking. Unmarked constituent order is predicate-final, and clause-chaining is pervasive. Grammatical relations centre on Subject and Object, and basically follow accusative alignment. Morphological (case-marking and verbal indexing) and syntactic properties of Subject are uncontroversial, but Object is less clear. Two phenomena in particular stand out as typologically interesting: (i) status of multiple objects and (ii) split marking of objects. 

Multiple objects

Case marking of all objects (notional direct and indirect objects as well as those added by applicative derivation) is identical. Syntactic processes are even less selective, simply contrasting Subject with “non-Subject”, which may include locations and other oblique participants. This suggests that Aguaruna is a symmetrical language, in the sense of Bresnan & Moshi (1990). 

Split marking

There is a scenario-conditioned split in accusative case marking (see Witzlack-Makarevich 2011 §8.6 for discussion), whereby third person objects remain unmarked if the subject is first person plural or second person. Differential object marking (DOM) is a well-documented phenomenon, and perhaps the Aguaruna pattern could be labelled as such; however the conditioning in Aguaruna is based entirely on the person of both subject and object, and not on animacy or definiteness. In other words, the conditioning of Jivaroan object marking is entirely based on referential properties and not discourse properties. And the object symmetry described above runs counter to the typical DOM pattern, where a case marker is used for all indirect objects but only some direct objects (cf. Spanish preposition a). 

In this talk I will show why the Aguaruna data presents analytical problems, and suggest some solutions.


Bresnan, Joan & Lioba Moshi (1990) ‘Object asymmetries in comparative Bantu syntax.’ Linguistic Inquiry 21: 147–85

Witzlack-Makarevich, A. (2011) ‘Typological variation in grammatical relations’ PhD dissertation, Universität Leipzig, Germany


Monash Linguistics Seminars 2012

Tuesdays, 11.00am-1.00pm
Room H10, Building 11 (Menzies)
Followed by lunch & coffee in the Staff Club
(You can also bring your own food to the club).
All welcome!

7 August – Five-minute poster presentations on theses in progress
Monash Linguistics Honours Students

21 August – Incorporation and applicatives in Murrinh-Patha 
Rachel Nordlinger (University of Melbourne)

30 August* – Quotatives Down Under: Be like in cross-generational Australian English speech
Celeste Rodríguez Louro (University of Western Australia)

11 Sept. – Grammatical change in North East India – the case of Tangsa 
Stephen Morey (La Trobe University)

2 Oct.† – Who’s Your Daddy?: Mockery, Genealogy, and Chinese Modernity
Chris Rea (University of British Columbia and ANU)

16 Oct. – Australian English: What do Adolescents in Queensland think?
Donna Starks, (La Trobe University), Louisa Willoughby (Monash University) and Kerry Taylor-Leech (Griffith University)

*Special Thursday seminar in room KG19, building 5 (near Education).
†Special joint seminar with Literary Studies.


7 August

Five-minute poster presentations on theses in progress
Monash Linguistics Honours Students

In this special seminar, Monash Linguistics Honours students will discuss their projects with staff, students and the general public.

21 August

Incorporation and applicatives in Murrinh-Patha 
Rachel Nordlinger (University of Melbourne)

Murrinh-Patha, a polysynthetic non-Pama-Nyungan language of the Daly River region of northern Australia, allows for productive incorporation of body parts into the verbal word. These incorporated body parts, while all involving the same morphological structure, can be shown to have a range of different functions corresponding in many cases to different syntactic constructions.  In this paper I discuss the morphosyntactic properties of the different uses of body part incorporation (Forshaw 2011), focussing particularly on interesting cases in which incorporated body parts have grammaticalised into applicative markers – a pattern that is found in a number of Daly River languages (e.g. Green 1989, Reid 1990), but appears relatively unusual cross-linguistically (cf. Peterson 2007).


Forshaw, William. 2011. A continuum of incorporation: noun incorporation in Murrinh-Patha. Honours thesis, University of Melbourne.

Green, Ian. 1989. Marrithiyel: a language of the Daly River region of Australia’s Northern Territory. PhD thesis, Australian National University, Canberra.

Peterson, David. 2007. Applicative constructions. Oxford: OUP.

Reid, Nicholas. 1990. Ngan’gityemerri: a language of the Daly River region, Northern Territory of Australia. PhD thesis, Australian National University, Canberra.

30 August

Quotatives Down Under: Be like in cross-generational Australian English speech 
Celeste Rodríguez Louro (University of Western Australia)

The English quotative system (featuring forms such as saythinkzerogoall and be like used in direct speech reproduction and thought) has been the subject of vigorous, in-depth sociolinguistic investigation, particularly in the past two decades. However, with the notable exception of Winter’s  (2002) study of quotative be like in the speech of Melbourne adolescents, the Australian English quotative system remains virtually uncharted. I address this gap in the literature by offering a quantitative sociolinguistic analysis of the quotative system of Perth English, investigating to what extent linguistic (grammatical person, content of quote and tense) and social (age and sex) variables are implicated in the use of be like. My results stem from 32.5 hours (325,096 words) of spontaneous narratives of personal experience recorded with 47 speakers in Perth in 2011 and evince an overwhelming increase in the use ofbe like particularly amongst the youngest speakers—as compared to Winter’s (2002) findings for Melbourne in the late 1990s. Multivariate analysis using Goldvarb (Sankoff, Tagliamonte & Smith 2005) indicates that—although some constraints like the favouring effect of first person subjects behave similarly across the generations and are in line with other Englishes—Australian be like is subject to different constraints across generations of young speakers. Pre-adolescent and adolescent girls are active agents of language change by upping be like’s frequency and its use with the historical present in narratives. Young adults are steady users of be like in historical present contexts but the significant effect of sex has reversed: it is young male adults—rather than women—who favour be like in this cohort. The findings are in line with trends noted in the literature on English quotation elsewhere and point once again to the irrevocable link between system-internal forces and social factors as speakers move through life.


Sankoff, David, Sali Tagliamonte & Eric Smith. 2005. Goldvarb X: A multivariate analysis application for Macintosh and Windows.

Winter, Joanne. 2002. Discourse quotatives in Australian English: Adolescents performing voices. Australian Journal of Linguistics 22(1): 5–21.

11 September

Grammatical change in North East India – the case of Tangsa 
Stephen Morey (La Trobe University)

Burling (2003) has described the linguistic situation on the India-Burma border as one of “massive heterogeneity and uncertainty”. One thing that we can be reasonably certain of is that the two ‘languages’ called Tangsa (ISO 639-3:nst under the name ‘Naga, Tase’) and Nocte (ISO 639-3:njb ‘Naga, Nocte’) are reasonably closely related. In India the language names Tangsa and Nocte seem to be more connected with geographical rather than linguistic distinctions. Tangsa is the term used for otherwise uncategorised Tibeto-Burman languages in Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh and in Tinsukia district in Assam, whereas Nocte is used for languages spoken in Tirap District. The term Tangsa was coined in the 1950s by some tribal leaders in consultation with the Indian bureaucracy to group together disparate but related communities.

70 subgroups have been identified within ‘Tangsa (Naga, Tase)’ within India and Burma combined. Each subgroup has a distinct linguistic form, sometimes mutually intelligible with others, and sometimes not. The linguistic diversity is in terms of sound change, different word structure, and differences in grammatical features.

In this paper, we will take as our data the feature known as ‘agreement’ or ‘pronominalisation’, the marking of information about tense /aspect/modality and person on verbs. This can be seen in the following example, from the Chamchang variety of Tangsa, where tvkai marks a 1st person plural continuous / habitual.

1 ) jamlai wa maiq raq phaq-siq-tvkai.  
  ʒam²lai² βa² maiʔ raʔ pʰaʔ-siʔ-təkai³  
  what person ag eat-eat-cont.1pl  

‘And what things would we humans eat?’

The Tangsa varieties differ enormously in how they mark the categories of person and TAM on the verb. Some, like Chamchang, mark the actor / subject argument with one of five forms (1sg, 1pl, 2sg, 2pl, 3) and one of several TAM forms (future/irrealis; habitual; negative; past); some, like Champang, do not mark person at all but mark a range of TAM forms, while others, like Hakhun, mark not only actor but also undergoer / objects with different forms when an undergoer is higher on the animacy hierarchy that the actor (hierarchical agreement). In this paper we will examine these phenomena across a range of Tangsa varieties: Chamchang, Moshang, Cholim, Lochhang, Rera, Mungray, Hakhun, Ngaimong, Maitai and Champang, and discuss how this variety may have arisen and what it might add to our knowledge of the processes of historical grammatical change.

2 October

Who’s Your Daddy?: Mockery, Genealogy, and Chinese Modernity
Chris Rea (University of British Columbia and ANU)

Anger has good claim to be the most influential emotion in modern Chinese historiography. Just as the Communists declared that the 1949 Revolution had been propelled by the fury of the labouring classes, so their predecessors, the Nationalists, had executed political prisoners citing the imperative that ‘public indignation must be quelled.’ The ‘angry youth’ of Chinese cyberspace have recently emerged as a powerful force shaping contemporary cultural discourse; the PRC government, meanwhile, has long been well known for stirring up public rage for its own political purposes. Why, some have asked, is China so angry?

This talk will focus on one rhetorical aspect of the anger discourse: namely, its expression in billingsgate and ad hominem attack. What, why, and how have Chinese people cursed in the modern age? To what extent has anger driven the invective—or just been a pretext? And what implications might the case of modern Chinese cursing hold for the study of linguistic taboos in other cultural contexts?

In approaching these questions, this talk will examine the poetics and politics of modern Chinese abusive rhetoric from a literary-historical perspective, focusing on the early twentieth century. Key aspects of invective to be discussed include: cursing tropes and imagery; intellectual debates over the ethics and efficacy of cursing; the market appeal of ‘cursing dictionaries’; the crucial relationship between genealogy and shame; and the abusive license accrued by ‘renowned revilers’—including the writer widely credited as being the ‘father’ of modern Chinese literature, Lu Xun (1881-1936).

16 October

Australian English: What do Adolescents in Queensland think?
Donna Starks, (La Trobe University), Louisa Willoughby (Monash University) and Kerry Taylor-Leech (Griffith University)

Although there is a growing literature on grammatical, lexical and phonological aspects of Australian English, there is comparatively little on attitudes towards this variety of English. What literature there is tends to be either anecdotal or based on findings from the media (reference) or experimental, subjective reaction tests where samples of speech are matched against those produced by speakers of other varieties of English (Bayard 2001, Garrett 2010). This Queensland study aims to add to existing research through an examination of responses of Australian adolescents who were asked to report “When you think about “Australian English, tell me the first three things that come into your mind”. The findings divide into three broad overlapping categories: comments about language features, comments about attitudes towards those features, and comments about culture. All three categories contain responses which suggest that Australians associate Australian English with rural and informal lifestyles. Those who provide attitudinal judgments either describe the variety in neutral terms, or give it evaluations typical of those reported for broad and vernacular varieties of English. Of particular interest is the frequency with which categories overlap and intersect, and the mythscape they provide of Australian language and identity.


Linguistics by Off-Campus Learning [OCL]

General information

The Linguistics Program at Monash University (Clayton) offers subjects for the degree of MA in Applied Linguistics and the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Linguistics through OCL (Off-Campus Learning). The MA sequence comprises three compulsory units in the Masters Qualifying / Postgraduate Diploma program (4th year level) and any four of a range of 5th year elective units (see below). Each unit takes 13 weeks (one semester) to complete. Studying full time (2 subjects per semester) students could qualify for the Masters degree in two years, whilst students wishing to qualify for the Postgraduate Diploma (equivalent to Masters Qualifying) could complete this in as little as one year full time. Part time study takes twice as long, in each case. A maximum of ten years can be taken to finish either award. The media used to teach these units include print materials such as textbooks and workbooks and also audiovisual aids such as audio cassettes and video tapes.

The Postgraduate Diploma and MA in Applied Linguistics Course by Off-Campus Learning (OCL)

The Postgraduate Diploma and MA in Applied Linguistics (OCL) deal with applications of linguistics to professional and social contexts in which language plays a crucial role. Present offerings are particularly suited to teachers of English as a mother tongue, as a second or foreign language, to teachers of languages other than English, to generalist primary school teachers, to language advisors, language consultants and those concerned with multicultural and language policies.

Entry requirements for the Postgraduate Diploma and MA

Applicants for the Postgraduate Diploma should hold at least a pass bachelors degree with results at credit standard in the third part of the major sequence. MA applicants should hold at least a pass bachelors degree with a major sequence in linguistics or a major sequence in English or another language, with results at least at credit standard in the third part of the major sequence. Applicants holding an appr opriate honours degree with a grade of H2B or above, or the equivalent, may be exempt from all or part of the Masters Qualifying program, but may be required to take additional units in lieu, unless they are exempt from at least three of the Masters Qualifying subjects.

Further inquiries

Further inquiries regarding course content and structure should be made directly to:

Linguistics PG Coursework Coordinator (OCL)
Linguistics Program,
School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics
Building 11
Monash University, Vic 3800

Telephone: (03) 9905 2223
Fax: (03) 9905 5437


Linguistics by Open Universities

Graduate courses in Applied Linguistics are available for study through Open University Australia at certificate, diploma and masters levels, allowing students to study at home.

Differences between Monash and Open Universities Australia

Regardless of whether students study through Monash or Open Universities Australia they will have access to the same study materials and assessment and are taught in combined online classes. The difference between the two institutions is solely in administrative matters, with key points contrasted in the table below.

Further information about the Masters of Applied Linguistics through each provider can be found at:

The table below pertains to the degree of Master of Applied Linguistics – slightly different rules for entry requirements, course progression and timetables for completion apply to the Graduate in Applied Linguistics and Graduate Diploma Certificate in Applied Linguistics and students interested in those courses should see the LCL pages below for details:

The following outlines the major differences between studying courses in Applied Linguistics enrolled through Open Universities Australia and directly with Monash University:

Master of Applied Linguistics Requirements
Monash direct Open Universities Australia
Entry requirements Students must hold a Bachelors degree in any field, with a credit average in their final year of study (or equivalent). Students from non-English speaking backgrounds must meet English proficiency standards as outlined at
There are NO entry requirements for this course through Open Universities Australia.
It is recommended that students new to tertiary study online take one or more enabling units through OUA prior to commencing study in Applied Linguistics.
Enrolment Prospective Monash students can apply online a t
Applications generally close one month before semester starts, but it is advisable to apply by the end of October if you wish to be considered for a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSPs are not available for mid-year entry).Note that you will also need to send certified copies of your academic transcript and your application will not be processed without these.
OUA students enrol in single units. Students may enrol up to two weeks before the commencement of semester. However, it is recommended that students enrol at least a month beforehand in order to ensure timely receipt of unit website login details etc.
Course progression Students enrol in the Masters of Applied Linguistics directly, and are eligible for the degree after passing 6 units (mark of 50%+). Students must achieve a credit average or better (60%) in their first two core unit in order to progress to further study. They must maintain a credit average or better across all units to be eligible for the degree of Master of Applied Linguistics.
Fees A small number of Commonwealth Supported Places may be offered each year to Australian citizens and permanent residents, who may also make use of FEE-HELP to defer payment of full fees.Monash and OUA charge different fees. For up-to-date fees
for Monash please see:
No Commonwealth Supported Places are available. Australian citizens and permanent residents may defer payment of full fees through FEE-HELP.Monash and OUA charge different fees – for up-to-date fees for OUA please see:
Changing study load Monash students must apply to the university if they wish to swap between part-time and full-time study. Students may normally defer for a maximum of one semester during their degree. OUA students can freely change their study load each semester. They have an unlimited right to defer, provided that the Masters degree is finished within 5 years of commencement.
Withdrawing from units Monash students may withdraw from units up to the census date with no financial penalty.Please note that Monash and OUA may have different census dates Students may withdraw from units before the census date and will not be charged full fees for the unit. However, OUA has penalty fees for withdrawing, which increases the later the withdrawal is made.Please note that Monash and OUA may have different census dates
Range of units For certain units, students have the option of attending on-campus classes. Student may also take a range of electives (taught only in on-campus mode) not available to OUA students. Students may only take the online units offered by Monash through OUA.
Graduation Students must apply to Monash to graduate, and receive a Monash degree. Students must notify the course coordinator of their intention to graduate as well as applying to Monash to graduate. Students receive a Monash degree, but the statement of results will note that units were completed through OUA .


For academic inquiries about about our Off-campus Learning Program and our Open Universities Australia program, contact the course coordinator, Dr. Louisa Willoughby:
Ph: +61 3 9905 2237

For administrative inquiries about studying with Monash directly please contact Ms Sally Riley:
Ph: +61 3 9905 5409
Fax: +61 39905 5437

Linguistics Program
School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics
Building 11
Monash University
Victoria 3800

Fax: +61 39905 5437

For administrative inquiries about studying through Open Universities Australia please contact Open Universities Australia.


Professor’s Gift Overcomes Communication Barriers

Arriving in Australia in 1998 from Iran, Monash Professor Farzad Sharifian knows firsthand the trials and tribulations of international students, and the life-changing impact that a PhD scholarship can make.

A member of the Monash family for 6 years, Professor Sharifian is the Director of The Language and Society Centre, Faculty of Arts at Monash. He established the ‘English as an International Language’ Program, a program which teaches intercultural and international communication, and is the first of its kind in the world. Professor Sharifian has published numerous articles, and in his recent book,Cultural Conceptualisations and Language: Theoretical Framework and Applications (2011, John Benjamins) outlined a theoretical model to underpin the relationship between language, culture, and conceptualisation. This model has already been adopted by many projects around the world.

“In a sense I have been researching my own life experiences as a migrant to Australia.” Professor Sharifian’s interest in intercultural communication arose from experiencing first-hand how enriching this experience is, as well as how differences in cultural norms and expectations can lead to miscommunication. “Intercultural communication is increasingly the experience of many people around the globe, as more and more people from various cultural and national backgrounds come together to live and work as ’international citizens’.”

The study of intercultural communication – exploring the relationship between language and culture – has far-reaching benefits. Differing expectations when it comes to communication are not as obvious as the differences in outward appearance between groups from different backgrounds. This means they are more subject to misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

Professor Sharifian believes studies in intercultural communication can also contribute significantly in the international political arena. “There are so many misunderstandings in international political discourse, often due to misinterpretations arising from speeches which have been poorly translated into English. Here research findings in intercultural communication could significantly contribute not just at the level of improving human life and daily interactions, but for international peace-building efforts and global understandings. I feel strongly that much more work needs to be done in this area.”

“I am continually struck by how the microcosm that is Monash University reflects the multicultural nature of the Australian community at large. This is why I believe Monash University is uniquely placed to be at the forefront of intercultural communication research.”

His burning desire to see the study of intercultural communication grow ever stronger at Monash has been the impetus for Farzad to set up the Farzad Sharifian Scholarship in the Field of Intercultural Communication, specifically for international PhD students studying at Monash. Across the board, there are scarce scholarships for international students. Quite a few of these students come from countries whose governments cannot afford to support them in their studies.

While spearheading his mentor’s Michael Clyne’s Scholarship Fund, Professor Farzad happened to chat to a staff member from Monash’s Advancement Unit about being inspired by Michael’s generosity of spirit towards students and future research.

“There may be other people, including staff members, out there who would like to donate something to future generations, but don’t know where to start. It’s easy to associate philanthropy with ‘being rich’ – which of course cuts academics out – but actually all of us can make the University a beneficiary of our Will.”

“From the final contract signing one sentence was so precious to me and has stuck with me – “This is our promise to you, that we will fulfil your wish.” I was convinced then that I had made the best decision. I look at my contribution as continuance of my life’s work that will see Monash’s international reputation for groundbreaking research continue for years to come.”

Dean of Arts, Professor Rae Frances, is thrilled with Professor Sharifian’s gift. “Staff have such an innate appreciation of what a gift like this can do in a university; towards education and excellence. We are indeed lucky to have such inspiring, generous people here at Monash.”

To learn more about making a personal gift and to discuss your opportunity to make a difference to the lives of Monash students in this way, contact Preema Wong from the Donor Relations team on 03 9903 4609 or email There are a number of ways to make a donation to the University and Preema would be pleased to discuss these with you.

To discover more about the fascinating field of intercultural communication, be sure to check out:

Over Monash University’s history, bequests from staff, alumni, friends, students and their families have supported teaching and learning, research, library resources, and student scholarships, bursaries and prizes. People making a bequest have often been inspired by Monash’s influence on their lives or on the lives of others.

Linguistics Research

The Linguistics Research Group comprises researchers within the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, who investigate the relationship between language and the social world.

The Research Group is closely linked to the Language and Society Centre.

Areas of research and supervisory expertise include:

  • Austronesian languages and cultures (Indonesia and Oceania)
  • Cross-linguistic analysis of narratives
  • Cultural and linguistic aspects of interpreted medical discourse
  • Documentation and analysis of endangered and other under-described languages
  • Language variation and change
  • Migration, language minorities and language contact
  • Intercultural communication
  • Language and culture
  • Multilingualism and bilingualism
  • e-Learning
  • Computer mediated communication
  • Language policy, planning, and language teaching
  • Second language acquisition and use
  • Communication in professional contexts


Past and present HDR topics in Linguistics



Name Title Supervisor
Margaret A’beckett PhD Gender assignment and word-final pronunciation in French: two classification systems Dr Heather Bowe
Andrew Balint PhD Utterance and discourse in context: a process model of the architectural and operational Gestalt of interlocutory language usage Prof Keith Allan
Zhiqun Chen PhD Compound ideograph: a contested category in studies of the Chinese writing system Prof Keith Allan
Carmen Dawuda PhD Discourse functions of demonstratives and place adverbs with exophoric reference in Logea, an Oceanic language of Papua New Guinea Dr Anna Margetts
Deborah Perrott PhD Adolescent communication: pragmatic skills Prof Keith Allan
Phuong Dung Pho PhD Research articles in applied linguistics and educational technology: a corpus-based study of rhetorical moves and authorial stance Dr Julie Bradshaw
Nor Suharti Abdul karim PhD Compliments and compliment responses: a study of Malay ESL undergraduates Prof Farzad Sharifian
Mark Arness PhD Language, culture and ideology: socio-cultural and ideological implications of the adoption of anglicisms in French and German Dr Heinz Kreutz
Melanie Burns PhD A sociolinguistic exploration of sexual language: discourses of sexuality in the Australian media Dr Julie Bradshaw
Mahshad Davoodifard PhD Advice speech-act in Persian as a first language and English as a second language: a study of Iranian students Prof Farzad Sharifian
Katharina Franke PhD “We call it Springbok-German!”: language contact in the German communities in South Africa Dr Heinz Kreutz
Naomi Kurata PhD Opportunities for second language learning and use in foreign language learners’ social networks A/Prof Helen Marriott
Howard Manns jr PhD Stance, style and identity in Java Dr Julie Bradshaw
Hiroyuki Nemoto PhD The management of intercultural academic interaction in student exchanges between an Australian and its Japanese partner universities A/Prof Helen Marriott
Sarah Pasfield-Neofitou PhD An analysis of L2 Japanese learners’ social CMC with native speakers: interaction, language use and language learning A/Prof Helen Marriott
Anthony Rausch PhD Cultural commodities in local revitalization: a case study in Tsugaru, Japan Prof Ross Mouer
Masato Takimoto PhD “Keeping an eye on all balls”: interpreters’ functions in multi-party business interpreting situations A/Prof Helen Marriott
Louisa Willoughby PhD “You have to speak it at least”. Language and identity maintenance among Australian migrant teenagers Dr Ana Deumert
Kiyomi Yamada PhD Japanese undergraduate thesis writing and individual supervisory conferences A/Prof Helen Marriott
Rintaro Imafuku MA R&C Student and Tutor Oral Participation in Medical Problem-based Learning Tutorials A/Prof Helen Marriott
Yuko Masuda MA R&C Interaction in Japanese-English Language Exchange Partnerships A/Prof Helen Marriott
Miho Nishita MA R&C Feedback and Co-construction in the Private Tutorial Context Dr Robyn Spence-Brown
Yusuke Sakurai MA R&C Writing in Japanese as a Second Language: Composing on the computer and by pen-and-paper Dr Robyn Spence-Brown
Chiharu Shima MA R&C Learner Interaction in Pair / Group Work Tasks in a Japanese Language Classroom A/Prof Helen Marriott


Austronesian languages and cultures (Indonesia and Oceania)

Several researchers are working in the area of Austronesian language and culture.

Yacinta Kurniasih has been working in the area of language policy and its implementation at schools in Indonesia and the community attitudes toward policy. She is currently finishing her PhD on Javanese (regional/indigenous) language teaching policy in The Special District of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She has supervised an Honours research thesis on language maintenance of Indonesian migrant community in Germany.

Howard Manns has been studying language and identity in Malang, Indonesia. His primary focus has been the adoption of Jakarta, English and Arabic styles by young people and in the mass media. He has also written about the variety of Indonesian used for computer-mediated communication.

Anna Margetts has been working with oral discourse data from Oceanic languages (Saliba-Logea, PNG and Lau, Solomon Islands) since 1995. She is the chief investigator in the Saliba-Logea Documentation Project (with Carmen Dawuda, John Hajek, Andrew Margetts, and Ulrike Mosel) working with a community of speakers in Papua New Guinea. The project has established a still growing multi-media text corpus with which she is currently working. She has supervised research theses on indigenous languages of Oceania and Indonesia (Austronesian and Papuan).

Simon Musgrave has worked on Austronesian languages since 1996. He wrote his PhD thesis on aspects of the syntax of Indonesian. At the same time, he was involved in a research project at the University of Melbourne on the languages of Lombok and Sumbawa, especially the Sasak language. After completing his doctorate, Simon worked for two years in a project in the Netherlands which looked at Eastern Indonesia from an areal perspective, and he was then involved in a project based at Monash studying endangered languages in the Maluku region of Indonesia. The research started in that project has continued in efforts to document and describe the language Sou Amaa Teru from Ambon Island, Maluku

Paul Thomas is interested in the historical, cultural and political role of the Indonesian language in the Australian Indonesian relationship. Currently, he is exploring three main points of interest: the history of the Indonesian/Malay language in Australia, the history of translation and interpreting in Australia with specific reference to Indonesian/Malay, and translation and interpreting practices in the Indonesian/Australian Media.

Carmen Dawuda completed her PhD thesis on discourse functions of demonstratives and place adverbs with exophoric reference in Logea, an Oceanic Language of Papua New Guinea within the Saliba-Logea Documentation Project. As a post-doctoral fellow she is continuing the documentation and description of Logea and her work on demonstratives. She is interested in deixis, corpus linguistics and the analysis of oral discourse.

Julian Millie has completed a number of research projects on Indonesian Islamic culture and society. After obtaining his PhD from Leiden University (the Netherlands) in 2006, he has been working as a researcher and lecturer in the anthropology section of the Monash School of Political and Social Inquiry. His major books areBidasari: Jewel of Malay Muslim Culture (KITLV 2004) and Splashed by the Saint: Ritual reading and Islamic sanctity in West Java (KITLV 2009). His current research concerns Islamic oratory in West Java.


Cross-linguistic analysis of narratives

We are currently establishing a new research group initiative on the cross-linguistic analysis of narratives. In the first phase the group will focus on topics including the function of quotatives, marking of narrative peaks and non-prototypical uses of pronouns in narratives. We will draw mostly on transcribed oral but also on written data from a wide range of languages, including English, Pennsylvanian German, Spanish, Japanese, Aboriginal languages of Australia, Austronesian languages of Indonesia and Oceania and Iranian languages.

Members of this research group initiative include Anna MargettsJulie BradshawKate BurridgeMarisa Cordella, Carmen DawudaAlice GabyHoward Manns, Shimako IwasakiSimon MusgraveLouisa Willoughby, and Sarah Pasfield-Neofitou.


Cultural and linguistic aspects of interpreted medical discourse

The research group has expertise in the area of medical discourse, interpreting and discourse analysis.

Marisa Cordella has been studying doctor-patient communication across cultures using discourse analysis methods. She has investigated primary care physicians, oncologists as well as international medical graduates interacting with a diverse patient population.

  • Julie Bradshaw
  • Simon Musgrave
  • Helen Tebble
  • Louisa Willoughby


Documentation and analysis of endangered and other under-described languages

Several members of the research group are working in the area of documentation, description and analysis of endangered languages and more generally under-described languages, in particular Aboriginal languages of Australia, Austronesian languages and Germanic languages.

Alice Gaby’s field interests lie primarily in Cape York Peninsula, where she has worked with the Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Community since 2002. During this time, she has collaborated on various language documentation and revitalization projects with the speakers and scions of Wik Iyenh, Kugu Muminh, Kugu Mu’inh, Kugu Uwanh, Kugu Yi’anh, Wik Mungkan and Kuuk Thaayorre. She has also conducted field research on topics in morphosyntax, semantics, the cultural context of language use and its cognitive significance. Though this research has mostly focused on Kuuk Thaayorre, Alice is currently building a corpus of audio and video recordings of multilingual interactions.

Anna Margetts has been working on the documentation of Oceanic languages since 1995 and has collected text data in Saliba-Logea (Papua New Guinea) and Lau (Solomon Islands) and is the chief investigator in the Saliba-Logea Documentation Project (with Carmen Dawuda, John Hajek, Andrew Margetts, and Ulrike Mosel) working with a community of speakers in Papua New Guinea. The project has established a text-audio linked multi-media corpus of over 35 hours. She has supervised research theses on indigenous languages of Oceania, Indonesia (Austronesian and Papuan) and Peru. In her distant past she worked on the analysis of discourse particles in Cayuga (Northern Iroquoian).

Simon Musgrave worked on the project “Cross-linguistic study of endangered Maluku languages: Eastern Indonesia and the Dutch diaspora” (with Margaret Florey and Michael Ewing). He worked on documentation of the language spoken in the villages of Tulehu, Tial, Tengah-tengah, Liang and Waai. Current research projects also include an investigation of knowledge of endangered languages amongst the Sudanese community in Melbourne (with John Hajek). He has supervised research theses on Austronesian and Papuan languages, and also researches and publishes in the areas of research ethics for language documentation and computer tools for linguists.

Kate Burridge has been working on the variety of German (Pennsylvania German) spoken by Mennonite communities in Ontario, Canada (and Pennsylvania) since 1986. In addition to grammatical aspects of the language, her work also addresses issues to do with language shift and language maintenance, and she has been supervising research theses in these areas.

Howard Manns has been working on the varieties of Javanese and Indonesian spoken in East Java, Indonesia. He previously developed teaching materials for the U.S. Navy on varieties of Persian spoken in the Persian Gulf region.

Carmen Dawuda completed her PhD thesis on discourse functions of demonstratives and place adverbs with exophoric reference in Logea, an Oceanic Language of Papua New Guinea within the Saliba-Logea Documentation Project. As a post-doctoral fellow she is continuing the documentation and description of Logea and her work on demonstratives. She has also conducted field research on the topic of text cohesion in Ewe, aNiger-Congo language spoken in Ghana and Togo on which she wrote her MA thesis. She is interested in deixis, corpus linguistics and the analysis of oral discourse.

Andrew Margetts has been working in the Saliba-Logea Documentation Project specialising in linguistic data processing and the structuring of databases for language documentation. He developed a Linguistic Software Converter (Transcriber files to Toolbox format) and has written on using Toolbox and on recording equipment for linguists. He has a special interest in Oceanic sailing canoes whose building and use are being documented in the Saliba-Logea project.

Heather Bowe has worked on the analysis, documentation, and reclamation of Australian Aboriginal languages focusing on Pitjantjatjara (Western Desert) and Victorian Aboriginal languages. She has supervised research theses on the grammatical structure of Australian, Papuan, Niger Kordofanian languages (Bantu and Busa), and Tibeto-Burman languages as well as phonetics and phonology, second language acquisition, intercultural communication, multilingualism and discourse.

John Bradley is based at the Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies and has been actively involved in issues associated with Yanyuwa language and knowledge with a particular emphasis country and kinship. The majority of this research has been undertaken in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria with particular emphasis on the marine and island environments of the Sir Edward Pellew Group of Islands, the country of the Yanyuwa people  One of his major areas of study has been in song lines and the knowledge they contain. He is presently working with animators from the Berwick IT campus to develop animations for the Yanyuwa community as a way of getting language material back into the community but also as a way of assisting the cross generational transfer of knowledge. John is presently working on an encyclopaedic dictionary of Yanywuwa. He has inherited the texts and notes on the Yanyuwa language from linguist Jean Kirton who worked at Borroloola, with the Yanyuwa people, between 1963-1984. These materials are available for Honours and  postgraduate linguistic research on Yanyuwa. John will also make his own material available for interested students.


Language variation and change

Several members of the linguistics research group have expertise in the area of language variation and change, encompassing phonological change, syntactic change, grammaticalization (creation of grammar), lexical and semantic change, prehistory, areal linguistics, linguistic reconstruction, as well as linguistic prescriptivism and purism.

Kate Burridge continues earlier PhD research that focused on the historical development of Dutch. More recently, this research has developed two additional strands; (1) the structure and history of English and (2) grammatical change in the varieties of German spoken by the Plain Anabaptists in North America (specifically the Amish/Mennonite communities in Ontario, Canada). Related research areas also include linguistic purism and taboo as a driver of linguistic change.

Julie Bradshaw is interested in language variation and sociolinguistic aspects of language change, particularly in relation to English.

Howard Manns is interested in language variation and the role of conversational stancetaking in linguistic and social change. He is particularly interested in stance in English and Austronesian and Iranian languages.

Louisa Willoughby is interested in language variation as a marker of identities (ethnic, gendered, sexual etc) and its role in language change.

Alice Gaby is currently interested in the role of pragmatics in shaping grammatical structures, with a particular focus on the tensions between obfuscation, clarity and economy as causes of grammaticalization.

Anna Margetts has been working on morpho-syntactic and semantic change and the emergence of grammar with a focus on Oceanic languages.

Simon Musgrave conducts research on the linguistic prehistory of the area to the north of Australia, with a particular interest in the possibilities of applying computational techniques to historical linguistics.


Migration, language minorities and language contact

The linguistics research group has expertise in the area of sociolinguistics, bilingualism and multilingualism, language contact, and language maintenance and loss.

Julie Bradshaw has worked with migrant communities and statistical data, to explore language maintenance and change in Australia. She is also interested in cultural factors, gender and the role of school-based language programs in language maintenance.

Louisa Willoughby is interested in language maintenance, shift and hybridisation in migrant communities, particularly as it relates to identity construction. She also has a strong interest in language policy and planning and works extensively on issues speakers of minority languages (including sign languages) face in accessing health and disability services.

Jim Hlavac has a research interest in grammatical and lexical innovation in migrant languages spoken in Melbourne and in code-switching in general. He is also interested in the domains and networks in which multilinguals use their languages and in language maintenance/shift factors amongst second and third generation speakers.

Simon Musgrave has conducted research in the Maluku region of Eastern Indonesia, an area with a long history of multilingualism and a current situation of language endangerment. His current research on language in the Sudanese community in Melbourne includes an examination of language maintenance and language shift.

Alice Gaby is interested in how speakers bridge the grammatical gaps when using structurally very different languages in multilingual interactions. Specifically, she is investigating how reference tracking is achieved in Pormpuraaw, an Aboriginal community of Cape York Peninsula, where most conversations involve two to four languages. Significantly, the three most widely spoken languages there – English, Kuuk Thaayorre and Kugu Nganhcara – possess extremely different reference tracking systems. In collaboration with postgraduate students, Alice is exploring the semantics and pragmatics of demonstratives in these three languages as they are used alone and in combination, as well as the different kinds of contribution gesture and language make in referring to locations, depending on the language.

Anna Margetts has been working in a small language community in Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea with speaker the Oceanic language Saliba-Logea. The region has a long history of language contact and multilingualism and was a prehistoric contact area with non-Austronesian languages of New Guinea.

Kate Burridge is interested in the role of contact in language change. Specifically, her research focuses on the Pennsylvania German-English contact situation in the Amish/Mennonite communities of Ontario, Canada.

Howard Manns has been exploring a complex case of multilingualism in East Java, Indonesia. He is interested in how these speakers use Javanese, Indonesian, Arabic and English styles to enact conversational stances and the resulting implications for language shift.

Sarah Pasfield-Neofitou is interested in how multilingual individuals communicate online. Her research focuses on Japanese-English contact situations in chat, email, social networking, online games, mobile phone messages and other forms of Computer Mediated Communication.

Marisa Cordella is currently working on an ARC linkage grant in the area of intercultural and intergenerational and second language development


Research Group Members


Honours in Linguistics

Honours Coordinator

Dr Anna Margetts
Room: W503B
Telephone: 9905 2290

The Honours year in Linguistics offers an opportunity to develop marketable career skills:

  • Research independence
  • Project planning and management skills
  • Experience with large scale data analysis
  • Experience in writing a major research report
  • Project presentation skills
  • Academic development in linguistics
  • Showcasing your research capabilities in an area of potential career choice

Course overview

The Honours program is a one-year full-time course. It is possible to study the program part time over two years. Honours students complete a total of 48 credit points: the thesis (about 15,000 to 18,000-words) worth 24 points and two 12-point coursework units.


A requirement for admission to Honours in Linguistics is a completed major in linguistics (in special cases we can accept a major in a related discipline). As part of your major you must have achieved marks of 70 percent or better for at least four subjects (24 points) – three of the four subjects must be at third-year level, the fourth can be at second or third-year level. (So 18 of the 24 points counted for admission must be at third-year level.)

Course requirements

 Students enrolled in the Honours Program are expected to participate in the following activities which will assist the successful completion of their thesis:

  • A series of meetings (approximately twice per month) in which students are introduced to various aspects of linguistic research methodology. Later meetings will include presentation and discussion of your own research design, progress and results with fellow students .
  • Regular participation in the Linguistics Program seminars. These cover a wide variety of topics and many are presented by visiting scholars of international standing.

Honours Topics

Students are encouraged to develop their own ideas for Honours topics. But we have also listed some topic areas and suggestions by each staff member which they would be interested to supervise. If you are interested in any of the topic areas listed please contact the potential supervisor for a chat about how to develop a specific topic. You can also view a selection of topics of past Honours projects by students from the Monash Linguistics program.


Students enrolling into Honours are automatically considered for the Faculty of Arts Honours Scholarships.

How do you apply?

Please see the School Honours page for details:

Study abroad

Monash University has exchange agreements with prominent universities world wide. In semester 1, Honours students may study at a partner university and complete the required 24 points of coursework. The choice of host university and the coursework to be completed there need to be approved by the Monash Linguistics Program.

Scholarships for study abroad are available. Please see the study abroad website:

Postgraduate studies

Students who complete Honours in Linguistics may proceed to the Masters program. Students achieving a high class of Honours may proceed directly to the Ph.D. program in Linguistics.

For inquiries about our graduate research degree programs please contact:

For inquiries about graduate coursework degree program please contact:


Suggested Honours topics in Linguistics

Applicants are encouraged to develop their own ideas for Honours topics. But below we also list some topic areas and suggestions by each staff member which they would be interested to supervise. If you are interested in any of the topic areas listed here please contact the potential supervisor for a chat about how to develop a specific topic.

Julie Bradshaw

Topics in sociolinguistics, bilingualism, second language acquisition and community language maintenance. This might include topics such as:

  1. Linguistic diversity in a small country town.
  2. Issues around education and community relations in immigrant community with diglossia, or a range of different dialects.
  3. The language needs of refugees.
  4. Adolescents and language change, the influence of American dialects, music etc.
  5. Narrative style in friendship groups (esp. reported speech), possibly related to gender.
  6. Gender and identity issues in second language acquisition.
  7. Identity and the naming of the “other” (i.e. not people like us)
  8. Ethnic speech style, ingroup language, among 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants.

Kate Burridge

Topics in grammatical change in Germanic languages; sociolinguistic and linguistic aspects of Pennsylvania German; the notion of linguistic taboo (euphemism, dysphemism or “bad” language); slang and jargon; the structure and history of English; popular views on language and linguistic purism. Below are some suggestions to give you an idea of the many sorts of areas that would make for a viable honours thesis; some have already been done, but there remain plenty of variations on these topics:

Changes in Australian English

  1. Sound changeEnglish is currently losing the unstressed vowel (or schwa) [?] when it occurs in the middle of words. For example, most speakers would pronounce every as [?vri] not [?v?ri]. But sound change is gradual and [?] doesn’t disappear across the board. For example, some people might pronounce delivery as [d?livri]; others as [d?liv?ri]. The progress of this change through the lexicon and through the speech community would make an interesting topic for investigation.
  2. Sound changeAnother fine example of sneaky diffusion is “yod-dropping”. English speakers have been losing [j] (in words such as blue, lewd, rule) since the 17th century, but the change is gradual and also different in the different dialects. Where most variation occurs currently is in words like dew, new, tune, suit, enthusiasm. This would be interesting to investigate — also the fact that yod-dropping is competing with palatalization’ e.g. [tjun] versus [t?un]; [?sjum] versus [??um]. (Interesting here are current spelling pronunciations that are seeing the return of pronunciations such as issue [?sju]
  3. Sound changeThere are a number of other sound changes currently happening that would also make nice studies; e.g. (1) The vocalization of /l/ (e.g. milk [m?uk], pickle [p?ku], pill [p?u]); (2) the widespread weakening of stops (e.g. flapped, glottalized, fricated [ts]); (3) merging of the [?] and [æ] vowels before laterals; (4) palatalization of [Cr] clusters as in tree and street.
  4. Change in stress patternsAlso changing stress patterns would be a fascinating little study. Linguists like Laurie Bauer have observed that stress seems to be moving in the direction of the anti-penultimate syllable. But it’s a very complex change and would warrant some investigation.
  5. Lexical changeFor people interested in lexical change — a doable study would be to look at recent lexical additions and see what are the most usual word formation processes used. Past studies have always identified affixation as way out front, but new words that have been flooding into the language recently suggest this may be no longer the case. There has for example been a marked rise in blends — how do these differ from earlier blended forms such as motel and brunch?
  6. Spelling reformI think questions to do with spelling reform would make for some fascinating topics — What should we reform? How? Recent reforms that have taken place elsewhere? Attitudes towards reforms?
  7. Grammatical changeOne of the many puzzling aspects of English grammar is the business of collective nouns and what to do with agreement — the government are in a tricky position or the public are united on this versus the government is in a tricky position and the public is united on this? American and British usage is divided here. British speakers are much more likely to go for the plural option. Americans go more for the singular option. What do Australian speakers do? Where is the language heading or is the variation semantically determined?
  8. Grammatical changeABC listener, Arthur of Evatt, posed an interesting question of current English usage that concerns sentences such as There is still grave fears. Certainly traditional grammar would argue that the phrase grave fears is the subject. It’s plural and therefore the verb should also be plural; in other words, there are grave fears is the correct version. So why do speakers appear to be violating a fundamental rule of English grammar? Why are they saying, and indeed also writing, things like there is still grave fears? “Language will change, and has to change. [...]“, Arthur of Evatt writes, “It’s not the change but the “Why” of the change that I cannot always fathom”. This is a change underway that could be investigated, especially with respect to how it fits in with changes that have already taken place to word order patterns in English.
  9. Grammatical changeTypical adjectives are gradable and take part in a three-term system — something is tasty, tastier or tastiest. Not all adjectives take these endings and the group is becoming smaller. More sneaky diffusion — a change that could be investigated easily by examining written material and devising a questionnaire. Also it should be looked at within the wider picture of changes that have been taking place in English over the past thousand years — the unrelenting erosion of inflections and their replacement with free-standing forms.

    The matter of possessive marking could also be investigated in the same way — ‘the cover of the book’ versus ‘the book’s cover’.

  10. 10. Using a corpus to track changing lexical/grammatical features of Australian EnglishThere are corpora available now that offer all sorts of new possibilities for the exploration of forms and structures of Australian English; e.g. the Monash Corpus of Melbourne English and COOEE (Clemens Fritz’ COrpus of Oz Early English), both sub-corpora of the National Australian Corpus.
  11. Euphemism and language changeThe contribution of euphemism and taboo to language change — not just in English, but across languages.

    Topics that are subject to linguistic taboos and how these have changed over time.

  12. Popular perceptions of language / linguistic prescriptionThere are many interesting areas that could be explored here; e.g. is David Crystal correct — (1) as institutionalized prescriptivism comes to an end, are speakers becoming more tolerant of the language of others; (2) how do we explain the runaway success of the number one British Bestseller’, Eats, Shoots and Leaves: the Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.

Alice Gaby

Topics concerning Australian Aboriginal languages, linguistic typology and the relationship between language, culture and cognition. These may include:

  1. Time and spaceHow do people around the world talk about time? What kinds of metaphors do they invoke? Speakers of English and other well-described languages primarily draw on spatial metaphors (saying that the past is behind us, or looking forward to the weeks ahead), but there is evidence that this is not universal. Honours projects relating to this topic might focus on:
    1. the description of time in existing corpora for endangered languages;
    2. the description of time in existing Kriol or Aboriginal English corpora;
    3. the description of spatial relationships in Kriol and/or Aboriginal English;
    4. designing and conducting experimental tasks that explore how people (probably English-speakers) conceptualize time and whether or not this is influenced by their physical environment.
  2. Morphological typologyMany languages use verbal affixes to add or subtract an argument (e.g. adding a causative suffix to the verb eat to create feed, or a passive suffix to eat to create be.eaten). Some languages, however, appear to have affixes that fix verbal valence to a particular number of arguments.
  3. Perfect particles in Kuuk Thaayorre, Kugu Nganhcara and Wik MungkanThe above Australian languages possess a number of cognate particles and verbal inflections which encode aspectual categories. The puzzle is to work out exactly what these particles and verb suffixes mean individually, how they may be combined, as well as their etymology. Honours projects could concentrate on the semantics of polysemy, the grammar of how aspect is encoded constructionally (across both verb and particles), or the diachronic picture of how these forms diverged and grammaticalized.
  4. Emotion and the bodyHow do various speech communities describe emotions? Do metaphors of emotion (in particular, where they are manifested in the body) correlate with beliefs about physical and mental illness?

Howie Manns

Topics in sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, languages and cultures in contact, language and identity, interactional sociolinguistics, second language acquisition, language in the mass media, youth language and Indonesian languages and cultures.

  • You could examine the influence of globalisation on the linguistic practices of communities like young people, religious groups, mass media personalities, migrants or those engaged with the tourist trade. For example, you might explore language use by these groups in computer-mediated communication.
  • The use of language as a style in conjunction with other styles (e.g. clothing) to construct identity(-ies).
  • The ways in which individual speakers vary their language from context-to-context to accomplish goals. For instance, you might compare the language use of public figures (e.g. politicians, celebrities) in formal press conferences to their language use in more casual, less scripted interactions.
  • The use of specific language styles (e.g. discourse markers, lexical items) to accomplish varied goals. For instance, ‘look’ is often used as a discourse marker in Australia. You might examine when and why speakers use this discourse marker.
  • The sociolinguistic situation in Indonesia is in flux. You might focus on a particular social group and explore how this group uses language in light of this flux.
  • You could examine how mass media outlets ‘design’ language for their audiences.
  • Different cultures accomplish the same speech act (e.g. requesting permission, expressing gratitude) in different ways. You could select a speech act and examine this act with regard to cross-cultural or intercultural communication.

Anna Margetts

1.   Topics in Austronesian linguistics. For example:

  • Issues in morpho-syntax
  • Issues in discourse structure
  • Deixis and demonstratives, & speech accompanying gestures (see e.g. Cleary-Kemp 2006, Dawuda 2009)
  • Expression of events with three-participants (Margetts & Austin 2007)

Analysing aspects of Lau, an Oceanic language of the Solomon Islands, on the basis of an existing small database of transcribed spoken language. E.g.:

  • Deixis and demonstratives and/or specificity and definiteness in Lau (see e.g. Cleary-Kemp 2006)
  • Adjectives  in Lau (see e.g. Dixon 1982, Lichtenberk 2005)
  • Writing a sketch grammar of the language based on the text data
  • A topic of your choice to be investigated on the Lau database

2.  The structure of discourse. E.g.

  • The marking of narrative peaks (Longacre 1980:25) in a language of your choice
  • Narrative peaks in children’s narratives
  • The notion of ‘narrative’ in structural linguistics vs. socio-linguistics
  • Structural differences across different text types

3.   Topics based on your own experimental data collected with visual stimuli (pictures or video) e.g. from the MPI for Psycholinguistics (, see e.g. the 2001 manual)

Topics in this domain could be to look at different groups of speakers and compare their responses to the stimuli and/or compare them to the findings discussed in the literature. E.g.

  • Speakers of different languages
  • Native speakers vs. second language learners
  • Bilinguals vs. monolinguals

4.   Topics in child language acquisition, working with the CHILDES database. (, see e.g. Berman & Slobin 1994). E.g.

  • Narrative peaks (Longacre 1980:25) in children’s narratives

Berman, R. A. and D. I. Slobin (1994). Relating events in narrative: A crosslinguistic de­velopmental study. Hillsdale, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Cleary-Kemp, J. (2006). Givenness, definiteness, and specificity in a language without articles: The use of NP markers in Saliba, an Oceanic language of Papua New Guinea. Linguistics Program, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics. Melbourne, Monash University167.
Dawuda, Carmen, (2009), Discourse functions of demonstratives and place adverbs with exophoric reference in Logea, an Oceanic language of Papua New Guinea. PhD Thesis, Monash University.
Dixon, R. M. W. (1982). Where have all the adjectives gone? and other essays in semantics and syntax. Berlin, New York, Amsterdam, Mouton Publishers.
Lichtenberk, F. (2005). “On the notion of “adjective” in Toqabaqita.” Oceanic Linguistics 44(1): 113-144.
Longacre, Robert (1980) The grammar of discourse. New York and London: Plenum Press.
Margetts, A. and P. K. Austin (2007). “Three-participant events in the languages of the world: towards a cross-linguistic typology.” Linguistics 45(3): 393-452.

Simon Musgrave

  1. Non-Oceanic Austronesian languages – topics on Austronesian languages of Indonesia (especially Maluku), particularly syntactic topics but also including morphology, historical linguistics and language contact.
  2. Using computers in historical linguistics – topics in comparative linguistics using computational techniques such as tree-drawing algorithms and probabilistic models (possible co-supervision with Assoc Prof David Dowe, Computer Science).
  3. Communication in medical settings – topics in applying discourse analysis to communication between doctors and patients, especially issues of intercultural communication. Note that any topic of this nature would depend on using existing data due to the difficulty of obtaining ethics clearance in this area. (possible co-supervision with Dr Marisa Cordella, Spanish and Latin American Studies)
  4. Technology and language data – topics on the application of digital technology to the collection, processing, storage and presentation of language data.

Louisa Willoughby

Topics in sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, language policy, language maintenance and shift, language and identity and deaf studies. I am also a Germanist and happy to supervise topics in Germanic Linguistics. Possible thesis topics include:

  1. Linguistic practices in specific communities (e.g. a friendship group, an online gaming community, the gay/lesbian community, a religious congregation)
  2. The development and implementation of language policy within an organisation
  3. Discourse analysis of media texts (e.g. how language is used to label an portray a specific group in society, such as refugees or young people)
  4. Second language learning/ use outside the language classroom (e.g. study abroad, heritage language maintenance, online)
  5. Description of features of tactile Auslan (sign language used by Deafblind people)