The Australian National University

The ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language and the Department of Linguistics, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University (ANU) invites applications from students interested in undertaking PhD research. 

Below is a list of potential topics for PhD position/s located at the Australian National University:

Australian Indigenous languages

  • Syntactic/morphological/information structure and/or semantic aspects of Warlpiri spoken in Central Australia, based on fieldwork and on building a Warlpiri corpus from existing sources (Supervisors: Jane Simpson in collaboration with Mary Laughren and David Nash (ANU)) (could also be undertaken at Melbourne, UQ, WSU)
  • Interfaces between prosody, syntax and information structure in Warumungu, a Pama-Nyungan language spoken around Tennant Creek, based on fieldwork and on building a Warumungu corpus from existing sources (Supervisor: Jane Simpson in collaboration with Samantha Disbray, Charles Darwin University)
  • Shared syntax and morphology in languages of the Tennant Creek area based on fieldwork and existing sources (Supervisors: Jane Simpson in collaboration with Samantha Disbray, Charles Darwin University, and David Nash (ANU))
  • Comparative grammar of Yuendumu Warlpiri, Lajamanu Warlpiri, Willowra Warlpiri, Wakirti Warlpiri and Warlmanpa, based on fieldwork and existing sources (Supervisors: Jane Simpson in collaboration with Mary Laughren and David Nash (ANU))
  • Another proposed topic on an Australian language and/or contact situation (Supervisor: Jane Simpson) (could also be undertaken at Melbourne, UQ, WSU)

Language variation and change

  • Variation and change in Australian English – analysis of variation in phonetic and/or morphosyntactic features in spontaneous speech data from a well-defined speech community (based on ethnicity, region, socio-economic status, age, etc.) (Supervisor: Catherine Travis and Caroline Jones, see “Sydney Speaks” for more detail)
  • Community languages in Australia – analysis of the use of a defined set of (phonetic and/or morphosyntactic) features in a community language as spoken by bilinguals in Australia (Supervisor: Catherine Travis)
  • Another proposed topic related to language variation and change, including in language contact situations (Supervisor: Catherine Travis)
  • Cross-linguistic patterns of subject expression (‘pro-drop’) (Supervisor: Catherine Travis)
  • Quantitative study of variable subject expression in a given language, in particular in a language with grammaticized switch reference marking (e.g. Australian Indigenous language), or in a language without subject-verb agreement (e.g. Japanese, Korean) (Supervisor: Catherine Travis)
  • Language Variation and Typological Diversity: Quantitative and typological study of language variation in a small, rural community in Latin America, speaking a variety of Spanish or Portuguese, that will articulate with the other PhD projects being pursued in Nick Evans’ project ‘Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity’ (Supervisors: Nick Evans & Catherine Travis).

Documentation of languages in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands

  • Fieldwork-based documentation and description of a Papuan language of the Southern New Guinea region (Supervisor: Nick Evans)
  • Fieldwork based documentation and description of to-date undescribed languages of Austronesian or Papuan languages of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands (Supervisors: Don Daniels, Simon Greenhill and Bethwyn Evans)
  • Study of the indigenous sign language used for communicating with and among deaf people in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea (Supervisor: Alan Rumsey). Preferred qualification for this position: experience in analysing and/or using a sign language.

Morpho-syntax of Austronesian languages in Indonesia and Malaysia

  • Grammatical analysis which could be based on fieldwork and existing sources (Supervisors: Wayan Arka & Jane Simpson)

Child language acquisition in Papua New Guinea

  • Fieldwork-based study of children’s acquisition of a Papuan language (Supervisor: Alan Rumsey in collaboration with Hannah Sarvasy). Prerequisite for this position: prior knowledge of the language.
  • Linguistic or linguistic-anthropological study of aspects of children’s language socialization in the Ku Waru and/or Nungon languages of Papua New Guinea, based on existing documentation of interactions involving children in those languages (Supervisor: Alan Rumsey in collaboration with Hannah Sarvasy). Preferred qualification for this position: training in language acquisition studies.

Historical linguistics in Papua New Guinea and Melanesia

  • Comparative-historical study within the Chimbu-Wahgi family of Papuan languages. (Supervisor: Alan Rumsey). Prerequisite for this position: Training in historical-comparative linguistics
  • Historical-comparative study that aims to contribute to the broader reconstruction of the linguistic prehistory of Melanesia, with projects focused on the languages of Madang and Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. (Supervisors: Don Daniels, Simon Greenhill and Bethwyn Evans).  A background in historical or comparative linguistics or language typology is preferred

Supervisor contacts:

Wayan Arka <wayan.arka@anu.edu.au>;
Bethwyn Evans <bethwyn.evans@anu.edu.au>;
Nicholas Evans <nicholas.evans@anu.edu.au>;
Simon Greenhill <simon.greenhill@anu.edu.au>;
Don Daniels <don.r.daniels@gmail.com>;
Alan Rumsey <Alan.Rumsey@anu.edu.au>;
Hannah Sarvasy <hannah.sarvasy@anu.edu.au>;
Jane Simpson <jane.simpson@anu.edu.au>;
Catherine Travis <catherine.travis@anu.edu.au>

Other ANU linguists and CoEDL members may also be available for supervision.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University

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