Each day of the event is organised around a theme. The first day, Wednesday, will reflect on CoEDL’s activities and achievements in education and outreach, using these reflections to consider how researchers working in this space can better connect with students, communities and the general public. Thursday sessions focus on the outcomes of research projects, themes and ideas that were core to the CoEDL mission, including interdisciplinarity, longitudinality and innovation. Organised by CoEDL early career researchers, the final day will explore unanswered questions and interesting avenues for further investigations relating to language and linguistics.

Session titles, times, speakers and abstracts are available below.


Wednesday 28 September: Education and Outreach

9:00 Opening ceremony

with Welcome to Country by Caroline Hughes and opening address by Sharon Davis

10:15 Morning tea
10:45 Outreach session 1

Connecting with Indigenous Communities in Australia and the Pacific


Moderator: Felicity Meakins

Speakers: Caroline Jones, Janet Fletcher, Nick Thieberger, Gari Tudor-Smith, Paul Williams, Samantha Disbray

Bina: First Nations Languages Old and New - Gari Tudor-Smith, Paul Williams

Bina: First Nations Languages Old and New will be the first general audience book about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages written by a majority Indigenous authorship. While the First Nations languages across so-called Australia are incredibly diverse and complex, public awareness of these languages remains limited at the present time. Coinciding with the UNESCO International Decade of International Languages, Bina showcases the plethora of language maintenance, revitalisation and reclamation activity that is taking place across the continent. As well as highlighting the work surrounding First Languages, Bina explores Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contact languages including Kriol and Yumplatok, mixed languages and Aboriginal Englishes. This book hopes to achieve several goals: educating the public; informing policy makers, educators, and health providers; and inspiring fellow First Nations language activists, educators, researchers, rangers, and artists. 

Reaching out: CoEDL supporting language work in the Pacific - Janet Fletcher, Nick Thieberger

In this presentation we will outline how CoEDL has supported a number of outreach projects in the Pacific, including workshops in Noumea, Papeete, and Honiara in which CoEDL members presented on aspects of linguistics and language documentation methods. CoEDL also supported collaboration with agencies in the Pacific on digitising tape collections, including the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Solomon Islands National Museum, and language academies in French Polynesia.

From documentation to resource production: A Gurindji case study - Felicity Meakins

The Gurindji community has been working with linguists since the 1970s to document their language for the next generations. Resource production has been an important component on this work from the creation of school books and church readers by missionaries in the 1980s to the more recent production of a dictionary, ethnobiology, learner’s guide, sign language and ethnobiology posters and books of texts. This recent work has been a collaboration with two Gurindji organisations: Karungkarni Art and the Murnkurrumurnkurru ranger group and linguists through CoEDL. 

Pictures and Pedagogies - Samantha Disbray

Illustrated learner’s dictionaries and picture-based activities are important in a language teacher’s toolkit. The demand for Indigenous language programs in Australian schools is growing, however language teacher training, teaching resources and reference guides remain scarce. This motivated our team to investigate and create practical, usable and sharable resources. In ‘Pictures and pedagogies’, a CoEDL, UQ, Batchelor Institute and FLA supported project, we developed two related sets of resources, informed by educator’s practices and needs, lexicographic research and language documentation. They are (i) a teacher’s resource guide to picture- and picture-dictionary-based teaching activities Mangurr-jangu mirlamirlajinjikki/ Teaching and learning with pictures (ii) a corpus of line-drawn illustrations Arlkeny map-akert/Australian Indigenous Languages Image Bank.

WordSpinner: Making online talking dictionaries - Caroline Jones

Online talking dictionaries can transform users' access to the information that print dictionaries contain: pronunciation, meaning, examples of how to use the word in a phrase, cultural and scientific information, and more. In this talk we showcase WordSpinner, a free online software tool we developed in CoEDL through cross-node collaborations (WSU-UQ-ANU). WordSpinner streamlines the process of creating dictionary webpages from plain-text backslash files, to increase dictionary accessibility and support Indigenous language revitalisation right now. During CoEDL, WordSpinner has enabled the production of five online talking dictionaries -- Gurindji, Bilinarra, Mudburra, Ngarinyman and also Ngiyampaa (Wangaaypuwan - in progress) -- in collaboration with Aboriginal organisations (Karungkarni Art, Walangeri, Winangakirri Aboriginal Corporations) and in community-university teams from the Northern Territory, Queensland, and New South Wales.

12:00 Lunch
13:00 Outreach session 2

Insights from CoEDL Outreach


Moderator: Rosey Billington

Speakers: Denise Angelo, Paola Escudero, Nick Thieberger

CoEDL has reached out to a range of audiences, including providing input to government policy, communicating with the public through exhibitions, working with migrant communities on language maintenance, and with Indigenous communities on language maintenance and revitalisation. In this panel discussion, we engage in a dialogue with some CoEDL researchers who have led such initiatives, and hear insights from them about taking findings from academic research to the broader community.

14:00 Outreach session 3

Language, Linguistics and Education


Moderator: Jane Simpson

Speakers: Anne-Marie Morgan, John Mansfield, Elena Sheard, Jill Vaughan

One CoEDL goal has been to address Australia’s monolingual mindset, and to increase understandings of languages and linguistics. We have tackled this through education at multiple levels, such as taking a Linguistics Roadshow out to regional Australia; honouring the outstanding achievements of language teachers through the Patji-Dawes Award; and offering intensive learning and research opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students through Summer Research Scholarships and Summer Schools. In this session, CoEDL members who have been involved in these endeavours will discuss the successes and rewards they have experienced from this.

15:00 Afternoon tea + Outreach session 4

Interactive afternoon tea

CoEDL has created many online tools, workflows and apps around languages and linguistics. This interactive afternoon tea is your opportunity to try some of these out first hand, and chat one-on-one with the people who developed them. The selection includes:

Listen N Talk with Mark Richards: an app to help adult community members independently learn their heritage language

Australia Speaks with Catherine Travisand Simón González: an app to test your perceptions (and perhaps your prejudices) of Australian English

Yäku ga Rirrakay with Jill Wigglesworth and Yalmay Yunupingu: an app for early literacy development in Dhuwaya

Dictionaries with Nay San and Jane Simpson: an example of software and workflows for online dictionaries

Little Kids' Word List with Carmel O'Shannessy and Vanessa Davis: an online tool for tracking children’s vocabulary development in Eastern & Central Arrernte, Warlpiri and English

Glossopticon with Nick Thieberger: a Virtual Reality-based information visualisation system to explore languages of the Pacific

16:00 Break

Public Lecture

Waabarangara! Invigorating a community of speakers via performance

Speaker: Clint Bracknell

With Welcome to Country by Caroline Hughes


Thursday 29 September: CoEDL Research Achievements

9:00 Research session 1



Moderator: Rachel Nordlinger

Speakers: Nick Thieberger, Evan Kidd, Alex Marley, Sasha Wilmoth

This session reflects on the longitudinal efforts facilitated by the longevity of CoEDL's operation. Topics include:

PARADISEC - Nick Thieberger

The Canberra Longitudinal Child Language Project - Evan Kidd

Multigenerational perspectives on language dynamics - Alex Marley, Sasha Wilmoth

10:30 Morning tea
11:00 Research session 2



Moderator: Nick Evans

Speakers: Stephen Levinson, Kyla Quinn, Catherine Travis

This session reflects on CoEDL's mission to promote interdisciplinary research in language science and the outcomes of such research. Topics include:


Sydney Speaks: Tracking language and social change through the stories people tell - Catherine Travis

Sydney Speaks is a large-scale sociolinguistic study of language variation and change in Australian English as spoken in Australia’s largest and most diverse city. As part of the project, we have compiled close to 1.5 million words from 260 speakers whose birthdates span from the 1890s to the 1990s, including recordings made in the 1970s and 1980s, and a comparable set of recordings made in the 2010s. These recordings provide not only rich data for linguistic analysis, but also insights into life in Australia over the past 100 years. They include recounts of restrictions put in place to manage the Spanish flu, and to manage COVID; changes in social norms, including differing expectations for women or within ethnic communities; how changes in multiculturalism have been felt across the community; and much more. In this talk, I illustrate how the stories people tell can be used to embed language variation and change in a broader social context, and thus track language change alongside social change.

Why kinship matters?: Kinship and the evolution of culture, cognition and society - Stephen Levinson

Introducing the session, Steve Levinson sketches why kinship is of central interest to the language sciences, stressing the complexity of the reasoning that lies behind kinship systems as shown up by children’s acquisition of such systems. Kinship systems offer a model microcosm for studying how cultural evolution works, and with many of the properties of language (relational complexity, recursion) they may even have been an important bridge to language in human evolution.

Kidlings* and niblings** on the family treeNick Evans, Kyla Quinn, Simon Greenhill, Wolfgang Barth

All kinship systems spread a finite number of kin terms (e.g. grandmother, daughter, niece) across a much larger set of kin types. English grandmother covers ‘mother’s mother’ and ‘father’s mother’; many Australian languages distinguish these but then stretch the ‘granny’ terms to cover the corresponding grandkids as well. The Kinbank project, which has grown through the lifetime of CoEDL and our sister Varikin project (Bristol) to include data from over 1,000 societies around the world, allows us to map just how differently kinship systems can be structured, and to visualise the diverse clustered patternings found in different parts of the world. In this talk we zoom in on a pattern, apparently unique to Australian languages, in which the two parents use different terms for their children through a different shuffle of the ‘children/nibling’ pack, and relate this to deep cultural balances whereby lineages are traced simultaneously through the male and female lines. By picking out many specific conceptual patternings like this it becomes possible to use how we talk about our family trees through kin terms to move towards the still-unrealised project of a full family tree (unified phylogeny) of the world’s languages.

12:15 ARC Address

with Liz Visher from the Australian Research Council

12:30 Lunch
13:30 Research session 3



Moderator: Janet Wiles

Speakers: Pete Worthy, Mark Richards, Wolfgang Barth, Ben Foley, Daan van Esch

This session reflects on the technologies developed during CoEDL's operations and how they have transformed people's research. Topics include:

'Making the day go better': Lessons from the co-design of a communication technology with a lived experience reference group - Pete Worthy

Multiword chunks to build language knowledge and communicative skills - Mark Richards, Josephine Lardy, Gulwanyang Moran

What's in your data?: Using scripts to visualise transcription content - Wolfgang Barth

Speeding up transcription through Elpis - Ben Foley, Daan van Esch

15:00 Afternoon tea

Research session 4

Discovering the Unexpected


Moderator: Jill Wigglesworth

Speakers: Rachel Nordlinger, Tina Gregor, Martin Ip, Danielle Barth, Janet Fletcher, Felicity Meakins, Lindell Bromham. This session explores the research and discoveries CoEDL never imagined it would be involved in. Topics include:

What the eyes reveal about language: sentence planning and production in Australian free word order languages - Rachel Nordlinger, Evan Kidd

Psycholinguistic research has traditionally been based on a tiny proportion of the world’s languages (0.6%, Jaeger and Norcliffe 2009) and thus psycholinguistic theories are yet to confront the full array of typological diversity documented by field linguists (Evans & Levinson 2009). Recent years have seen a growing interest in research that explores the relationship between a language’s typology and the ways in which it is processed by its speakers (e.g. Sauppe et al 2013, Norcliffe et al 2015), but virtually none of this research has focussed on Indigenous languages of Australia.

In this talk we discuss the current findings of an ongoing project investigating sentence planning and production in languages of Australia with the cross-linguistically unusual property of free word order. While many languages of the world allow flexible ordering of clausal constituents, these Australian languages seem to allow this to a far greater degree and thus pose interesting questions for how this syntactic property might influence sentence processing. Along with collaborators Gabriela Garrido Rodriguez and Sasha Wilmoth, we worked with adult speakers of both Murrinhpatha and Pitjantjatjara to investigate how they plan basic transitive sentences and how variables like argument humanness influence the ordering of constituents. In a first for work in Australia, we used eye-tracking to uncover the processes underlying speech planning. Speakers were simply asked to describe pictures of scenes depicting transitive events while their eye- movements to both agent and patient referents were recorded.

Our results show that, despite there being no discourse context that might drive different ordering choices, speakers of these languages produced all possible word orders (mean = >5 orders per speaker in both languages). Furthermore, their pattern of eye-movements revealed evidence of complex early planning strategies, where speakers rapidly attend to both agents and patients within the first 600ms of viewing a picture. This is different from planning in other (non-Australian) languages where similar studies have been conducted (e.g. Norcliffe et al 2015), where speakers typically focus on one participant in the early stages of planning. It appears that speaking a free word order language puts pressure on the speaker to gain a rapid wholistic understanding of an event so that speakers can settle upon a chosen order (Nordlinger et al 2022). The fact that we find similarly significant results in both Pitjantjatjara (a heavily dependent-marking language) and Murrinhpatha (a heavily head-marking language) provides further support for the analysis that these results are driven by the free word order properties of the two languages.

This research makes a number of important contributions to our understanding of the interaction between grammatical structure and language processing in sentence production. Moreover, it highlights the exciting advances in research that arise from the multidisciplinary, collaborative and stimulating environment that CoEDL has created.


Same cues, different processing: The case of prosody - Martin Ip

Women do it differently: The surprising case of gender suppletion in Yelmek - Tina Gregor

The language you use and your individual choices both matter for typological variation - Danielle Barth

Sounding out the Pacific: Another look at the phonetics and phonology of French Polynesian languages - Janet Fletcher

Selection doesn't always favour the simple: The evolution of Gurindji Kriol - Felicity Meakins, Lindell Bromham, Xia Hua, Cassandra Algy

17:00 Break
18:30-21:30 Event social evening


Friday 30 September: Linguistics Research Futures

9:00 Futures Plenary

Detecting direction: How Gurindji people draw on the earth’s magnetic field

Speaker: Felicity Meakins

Like many First Nations languages, Gurindji expresses spatial relations according to cardinal directions, for example “put the flour north of the vegemite” or “there’s a fly on your west shoulder”. This attention to geocentric cues has cognitive effects that show that Gurindji people have an extraordinary mental map of the world anchored in the trajectory of the sun, but which is constantly in operation regardless of the time of day. One question is whether this unique attention to geocentric cues is reflected neurologically, i.e. whether Gurindji people have a hard-wired magneto-reception abilityHuman neurophysiology has been shown to contain a geomagnetic sensory system. Small rotations in the magnetic field triggered drops in the brain’s EEG alpha-wave power. However, no participants were consciously aware of these magnetic field shiftsAll participants tested spoke English, which uses a left/right system, with cardinal terms marginal in everyday speech. In this talk I report on results from recent collaborative work with Caltech and Karungkarni Art showing that some members of the Gurindji community are consciously aware of the geomagnetic field, a first in human behavioural and sensory research.

10:00 Futures session 1

Saibai, Saibailgal a Saibailgaw Ya a Igililnga (Saibai, Saibai Islanders and Saibai Islander language and culture)


Speakers: Al Harvey, Dana Ober

10:30 Morning tea

Futures session 2

“Alexa” for Auslan: More than Sign Recognition


Speaker: Jessica Korte

Commercial voice-activated personal assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple Siri, are inaccessible to Deaf people whose preferred language is a sign language. In the Auslan Communication Technologies Pipeline Project, we are attempting to co-design a prototype Auslan-capable personal assistant. We have found that there are many technical problems to be solved, but perhaps more importantly, there are linguistic and cultural considerations that must be addressed. In this presentation, Dr Jessica Korte will discuss the project, with a focus on what makes a personal assistant “culturally Deaf”.

11:30 Futures Panel

New connections for language and technology


Moderator: Inge Kral

Speakers: Nay San, Saliha Muradoglu, Zara Maxwell-Smith, Judith Bishop

Topics include:

Linguistic Diversity in AI: A provocation - Judith Bishop

Machine-assisted workflows for endangered language documentation - Nay San

Technologies for Language Teachers - Zara Maxwell-Smith

Neural Networks in Language Documentation: morphological inflection - Saliha Muradoglu

12:30 Lunch
13:30 Futures session 3

Body-Part Tally Systems of South-Eastern Australia


Speaker: Corey Theatre

Body-part tally systems involve mapping temporal sequences spatially on the human body, this is achieved through a combination of gesture and utterance. While such systems are best known from Papua New Guinea and West Papua, they also occur(red) in the Torres Straight and south-eastern Australia. Records from the 19th and early 20th century indicate that such systems were in use in a contiguous area encompassing central and western Victoria and extending into parts of neighbouring South Australia and New South Wales. We find in this area, as in Papua, significant divergence in the sequence of these systems. We can identify four types of sequences in the body-part tally systems used in southern-eastern Australia, some exhibit a symmetrical pattern, but most are asymmetrical. The terms used to denote body parts in these systems demonstrate a rich pattern of metaphorical extension. Often such metaphors run across linguistic boundaries and while they are realised differently at the lexical level they demonstrate an underlining unity in thought.

14:00 Futures session 4

Phonological diversification among closely related languages: the case of Vanuatu


Speaker: Rosey Billington

Vanuatu is a particular hotspot of diversity in the Pacific, with more languages per capita than any other country in the world. There is also striking diversity in the structures of these languages, particularly their sound systems, including various typologically uncommon features. However, much of what we know about the sound systems of Vanuatu’s languages is based on comparisons of sounds and words in written materials, and not detailed analyses of pronunciation in audio-recorded spoken language. There is much to be gained from targeted studies of particular speech phenomena and analyses of rich and complex natural speech data in archival materials. With a focus on Nafsan and related Oceanic languages of central Vanuatu, this talk will highlight ways that fine-grained phonetic analyses can offer insights into the sound systems of individual languages, and open the door to more comprehensive understandings of language variation and change across languages of Vanuatu.

14:30 Futures session 5

Contact, convergence and divergence in languages of the Daly region


Speaker: John Mansfield

15:00 Afternoon tea

Closing address

Speaker: Nick Evans

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