Current Australian Research Council (ARC) grants

Current and recent ARC-funded projects:

[DP140100353] (2014-1016)

Project title: Improving Communication with Aboriginal English Speakers: A Study of cultural conceptualisations in Aboriginal English

CI: Prof Farzad Sharifian

The project will explore cultural conceptualisations in Aboriginal English. Often unfamiliarity with Aboriginal cultural conceptualisations on the part of non-Aboriginal people leads to miscommunication, disadvantaging Aboriginal speakers, especially in institutional contexts (for example, schoolrooms, courtrooms, Centrelink offices). The aim of this study is to alleviate such problems, and significantly advance Aboriginal English research, by exploring culturally constructed conceptualisations, in particularly cultural-conceptual metaphor, underlying the use of Aboriginal English, using the the analytical tools of Cultural Linguistics. The study will also make a significant contribution to the development of Cultural Linguistics.


[DP140102058] (2014-1016)

Project title: The Cultural Model of Ageing: The Australian Conceptualisation of the Third Age

CIs: Prof Kate Burridge; Prof Farzad Sharifian, Prof Keith Allan; Dr Reka Benczes

 Prolonged old age is one of the most significant medical and societal breakthroughs of our time. As countries like Australia prepare themselves for this ‘longevity revolution’, the current research delivers the much-needed linguistic support for this important interdisciplinary area. By exploring the expressions that contemporary Australians use to talk, directly or indirectly, about growing old, the project will reveal how our society now conceptualises a topic so often considered taboo. In addition to scholarly outcomes, this work has a very practical application in the form of information booklets and professional development courses aimed to improve the quality of aged-care services and ultimately the course and outcome of ageing.


[ARC DP120102701] (2012-2014)

Title: Thinking and talking about atolls: the role of environment in shaping language and our understanding of physical space.

 Chief Investigators: Dr Alice Gaby & Dr Bill Palmer

PhDs: Jonathon Lum & Jonathan Schlossberg

 This project investigates the role of environment in shaping how we think about physical space. By comparing how people in the highly specialised environment of the atoll talk about space in different parts of the world we will gather new data to test ideas on the roles of language and environment in shaping how we understand the physical world.


LP110200002 2011-14

Project Title: Acquiring Physical Skills: Exploiting Games Technology to Teach Sign Language

Dr Kirsten Ellis Chief Investigator
Professor Julie Fisher Chief Investigator
Dr Louisa Willoughby Chief Investigator
Professor Nicole Rinehart Chief Investigator

Our research will investigate the potential for using games technology to teach sign language in an engaging interactive form. Human trainers to teach sign language are a scare resource. Technology has not provided a solution to date. Existing technologies can demonstrate physical skills to assist learning but cannot provide feedback which is fundamental for learning sign language. Games technology with new modes of interaction is aware of users’ fine and gross motor movements thus having the potential to recognize and give feedback on a learners actions.

Primary research and supervision areas within the Centre

  • Intercultural communication
  • Multilingualism in Australia
  • Cultural Linguistics
  • Computer-mediated communication
  • English as an International Language
  • Australian English
  • Aboriginal English
  • Language and politics
  • Language and aging
  • Language contact and implications for multilingualism
  • Language shift and implications for bilingualism
  • Language policy
  • Sociolinguistic aspects of second language acquisition
  • Bilingual education in schools
  • Bilingual language acquisition
  • Translation and Interpreting Studies in Multilingual contexts
  • Discourse analysis
  • Pragmatics
  • Medical communication

The Centre is also active in community-based research, working with schools, school systems, and industry.

Some current projects within the Centre

Multilingualism in Australia

This includes large-scale census based and small-scale community and institution based studies comparing language practices and maintenance/shift rates across and between languages, as well as comparative studies of community languages as used in Australia including grammatical change and switching patterns. One new project conducted in collaboration with the University of Melbourne, examines endangered Sudanese languages within Melbourne.

Connecting young second language learners and elderly bilinguals (German, Mandarin, Spanish) ­interconnectedness and social inclusion

This project, conducted in collaboration with MonRAS, focuses on the use of community language resources for second language acquisition. It brings together students at Monash who are studying German, Mandarin and Spanish with older speakers of these languages. Specifically, the project explores student gains in second language acquisition, including conversational management skills, confidence and attitudes, as well as impacting on the self esteem of the older participants giving them a sense of belonging, and an understanding of young people. It is hoped to extend this project to the upper secondary level.

Communicating in English in our multicultural and globalised contexts

This project focuses on communicative styles in English as an International Language, cultural variation in academic and professional discourse, as well as intercultural communication in the medical field, in the workplace, in business communication and during meetings.

Enhancing languages-in-education policies and improved practice in primary, secondary and tertiary programs

This research examines how cognitive benefits can best be achieved in practice. It includes studies of ethnic schools, language learning and online communication, students of different backgrounds, opportunities for second language learning and the use of second languages in social and transactional networks. The project also looks at the acquisition of academic English by international students and the language socialization of second generational students into the Australian academic context.

Dimensions of Australian English

This project explores variation and change in Australian English pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and communicative styles. It examines school, gender, generation, and ethnicity as factors in generating variation. The data is based on Year 10 students across ten Melbourne schools, and includes their families and friends. Rural Australian English is also being examined using a pilot sample from the Western District. Research includes (im)politeness in language, attitudes to language, the discourse of inclusion/exclusion and the discourse of sexuality.

Aboriginal English and its implications for the education of Aboriginal children, intercultural communication, and politics

This research explores the failure of the education system in Australia to improve literacy outcomes for the vast majority of Aboriginal-English speaking students. This is a national issue of the highest priority.

Clash of political discourses

This research program examines the extent to which conflict between different nations is the result of misrepresentations in political discourse.

Cultural conceptualizations of Ageing

A national and international program of research is being conducted to explore concepts such as “successful ageing” in different languages and cultures.

English as an International Language

This research program focuses on a paradigm shift in the field English Language Teaching and the sociolinguistics of English in the light of the globalization and internationalization of the English language.

Intercultural oral examinations in medicine: Understanding the communicative skills of international medical graduates (IMGs) in Australian objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs)

This study analyses the communication skills of IMGs in selected communicative OSCE scenarios designed to replicate Australian Medical Council (AMC) examination standards. Video-recordings of OSCE performances and stimulated recall interviews constitute the corpus of this study. Following a discourse analysis approach, the data is
analysed on both the dimensions of intra-professional and practitioner-client interactions in order to investigate the discourse difficulties experienced by IMGs.

Translation and Interpreting Studies in Multilingual contexts

The following projects are underway which focus on the following: sociolinguistic profiles of professional and lay interpreters (Chaldean-Assyrian-Arabic-English multilinguals from Iraq); translators and interpreters who work in closely-related languages and the phenomenon of accommodation and non-accommodation; multilingual clients and language shifts in interpreting situations; dialect vs. standard language speakers and their use of professional interpreting services.

LASC Roundtable, 2014

Language and Society Centre (LASC) 

6th Annual Roundtable

November 6-7, 2014

Call for Papers:

(Im)politeness and Language

The Language and Society Centre (LASC) is pleased to announce that its 6th Annual Roundtable will explore ‘(Im)politeness and language’.

More than 1000 papers, articles and books have dealt with politeness, most often with a focus on Brown & Levinson’s well-cited ‘face management model’ (Locher & Bousfield 2008). Yet, in recent years, a ‘second wave’ of politeness research has marked a shift away Brown & Levinson’s model as well as a focus on impoliteness as a topic worthy of study in its own right (Culpepper 2011, Haugh, 2014).

In light of this shift, the 6th Annual LASC Roundtable seeks to assemble scholars concerned with language and (im)politeness. This Roundtable will interrogate traditional and contemporary approaches to language and (im)politeness through an exploration of following sub-themes:

a) Intercultural (im)politeness

b) (Im)politeness and language change

c) (Im)politeness in interaction

d) Theorizing (im)politeness

e) The grammar of (im)politeness



Culpeper, Jonathan (2011) Impoliteness: Using Language to Cause Offence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Haugh, M. (2014). (Im)politeness Implicatures. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Locher, M. & Bousfield, D. (2008). Introduction: Impoliteness and power in language. In D. Bousfield & M. Locher (eds.), Impoliteness in Language: Studies on its Interplay in Theory and Practices (pp. 1-16). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Roundtable Chair: Professor Farzad Sharifian
Roundtable Coordinator: Dr Howie Manns
Keynote Speaker: Professor Jonathan Culpeper, Lancaster University, UK.
Plenary Speaker: A/Prof Michael Haugh, Griffith University.