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Video: Meet Jane Simpson

Indigenous Languages, IYIL, Jane Simpson, Shape

Date: 16 January 2020

Professor Jane Simpson is the Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language and the inaugural Chair of Indigenous linguistics at ANU.

In the Centre, Jane has worked collaboratively on numerous Indigenous language resources: the Warlpiri dictionary with Mary Laughren; the Ngaanyatjarra speech register corpus with Inge Kral, Jenny Green and Lizzy Ellis; a Warumungu dictionary and corpus with Samantha Disbray; and with Rob Amery and Maryanne Gale on a Ngarrindjeri text corpus. She is the co-editor, with fellow Centre Chief Investigator Gillian Wigglesworth, of Language Practices of Indigenous Children and Youth: The Transition from Home to School (Springer, 2018).

Jane is a recognised expert on languages policy and has commented publicly on issues including language rights, Indigenous language teaching and learning, and digital infrastructure, in outlets such as The Conversation, and ANU Reporter.

Jane Simpson has carried out fieldwork on Indigenous Australian languages since 1979, and received a PhD in linguistics from MIT in 1983 for a study of Warlpiri in the Lexical-Functional Grammar framework. She was a Sloan postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and then worked in Central Australia on Warumungu language and language maintenance, helping to set up a language centre in Tennant Creek. She also carried out various consultancies (e.g. Aboriginal Legal Aid, Aboriginal Sacred Sites Protection Authority), and worked on the Warumungu land claims. 

In 1987-89, Jane worked with David Nash as lexicography fellow at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, helping set up a digital archive of Aboriginal language material, which became ASEDA. In 1989, she became a lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Sydney. In 2005, she shared the Linguistics Society of America Summer Institute Inaugural Ken Hale Chair with Mary Laughren and David Nash.

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