Wellsprings Forum Dialogue 2018

How does small-scale variation lead to typological diversity?

Canberra, 19-23 November, Australian National University

Venue information

All sessions will be in the Hedley Bull building at ANU, in seminar room 1

Main speakers

Sally Rice

Sally Rice is Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Alberta. She earned her PhD (1987) at the University of California, San Diego, under the supervision of Ronald Langacker, and remains a dedicated cognitive linguist. Her research and publication record spans multiple sub-disciplines, including lexical semantics, comparative Athapaskan, and corpus linguistics. She teaches in the areas of syntax/semantics, language documentation, corpus linguistics, and multimodal/interactional linguistics.

She conducts fieldwork on Dene Sųłiné and Tsuut’ina, two northern Athapaskan languages spoken in Alberta, and has long been an active proponent and practitioner of community-university research alliances. To that end, she wasco-founderin 2001 of the Canadian Indigenous Languages and Literacy Development Institute (CILLDI), an annual summer school for speakers of indigenous languages that trains community language activists in linguistic analysis, language pedagogy, and revitalization project development and advocacy. In 2007, she developed a provincially accredited Community Linguist Certificate, which has now been awarded to over 120 Indigenous graduates. She has had the privilege of teaching and learning from speakers of some 25 Indigenous languages of North America. Rice is currently involved in a major project to develop a “living digital archive” of Dene languages and cultures, designed as a repository of voices, stories, and images giving life to the history and lifeways of Dene peoples across North America.

 Anthony Woodbury

Anthony C. Woodbury earned his B.A. in Linguistics in 1975 from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1981. He has taught since 1980 in the Linguistics Department at the University of Texas at Austen, and served as its chair, 1998-2006. He was elected President of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas for the year 2005; has received teaching awards for his undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in 2008 and 2016; and was elected Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America in 2016.

His research focuses on the indigenous languages of the Americas, and what they reveal about human linguistic diversity. Since 2003, he has been engaged, together with current and former students, in the documentation and description of Chatino, an Otomanguean language group of Oaxaca, Mexico, supported by grants from the Endangered Language Documentation Programme and the National Science Foundation. Earlier, he worked on Yupik-Inuit-Aleut languages of Alaska, especially Cup’ik. Themes in his writing have included tone and prosody, morphology, syntax, historical linguistics, ethnopoetics, language endangerment and preservation, and documentary linguistics. He is also co-director of thedigitalArchive for Indigenous Languages of Latin America (www.ailla.utexas.org) at UT's Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.


Tony and Sally will each deliver two talks, alternating Monday through to Thursday, culminating in a synthesis and discussion session on the Friday. Each talk will happen in the morning, in the Hedley Bull building in Seminar room 1. We will serve a light morning tea for attendees. Further information – including detailed times – will be released closer to November.

Monday, November 19

Sally Rice: Variation writ small: A corpus-based account of variation within a Dene (Athapaskan) speech community

Tuesday, November 20

Tony Woodbury: Yupik-Inuit morphology and syntax: Small-scale variation while conserving an unusual typological 'genius'

Wednesday, November 21

Sally Rice: Variation writ larger: How an ethos of esoterogeny may have spawned linguistic innovation and differentiation across a language family

Thursday, November 22

Tony Woodbury: Chatino tonal phonology and morphology: Small-scale variation leading to extreme typological diversity

Friday, November 23

Nick Evans, Sally Rice and Tony Woodbury: Synthesis and discussion


Please register by Friday 2 November

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