Multigenerational Documentation

We are moving language documentation beyond the traditional approach — which distils the structures of a given language into an idealized shared representation — towards a practice that recognises intergenerational change.

Over the seven-year timespan of the Centre, we will develop a longer term, team-based research strategy connecting language documentation to the focus on how variation feeds change.

Language change across generations is normal in all societies, but can take varied and drastic forms in communities where traditional languages come into contact with colonial languages such as English or Indonesian. In this research we will do parallel documentation across the generations – working with older people, younger adults, and children all within the one community – to investigate the different design solutions that evolve in languages to solve similar social communicative problems, and the role that language typology and language contact can play in the development of these solutions.

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