Back to listing

Public Lecture: The genius of Australian Indigenous languages, and why they are important for all of us, Rachel Nordlinger, 30 May

Rachel Nordlinger, University of Melbourne

Date: 24 April 2018

Lecture: The genius of Australian Indigenous languages, and why they are important for all of us

Speaker: Rachel Nordlinger

Where: Copland Theatre, The Spot Building, University of Melbourne

When: 30 May 2018, 6pm

Registration is free


Australia’s Indigenous languages exhibit many interesting and unique properties that have contributed greatly to our understanding of how human beings process and perceive the world around them. However, much of this knowledge has remained within the purview of language scientists, and the broader Australian community still has little awareness of how fascinating Australian Indigenous languages are, and what they teach us about the nature of language more broadly.

In this talk, Professor Rachel Nordlinger discusses some of her favourite features of these languages – ranging from unusual grammatical properties, to intriguing word meanings, to the questions they raise about how languages are learned and processed. In doing so, Professor Nordlinger presents the true genius of these languages, and argues that, as well as being important to the communities who speak and treasure them, they should be valued by all of us who are interested in what it is to be human.


Prof Rachel Nordlinger

Rachel Nordlinger is Director of the Research Unit for Indigenous Language, in the School of Languages and Linguistics and a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. Rachel's research centres around the description and documentation of Australia's Indigenous languages, and their implications for theories of language structure. Over the last 25 years she has undertaken fieldwork with the Bilinarra, Wambaya, Gudanji, Murrinhpatha and Marri Ngarr communities to record, document and preserve their traditional languages. She also works with Indigenous communities across Australia to support their efforts in maintaining and preserving their linguistic and cultural heritage. She is the author of numerous academic articles, five books, and co-editor (with Harold Koch) of The Languages and Linguistics of Australia (Mouton de Gruyter, 2014). Rachel is a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

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