The Genius of Australian Indigenous Languages


Copland Theatre Berkeley Street


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Belinda Hofmeyr

T: +61 3 83447626

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 inaugural professorial lecture 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 will present 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.

Professor 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, Faculty of Arts. This is her inaugural professorial lecture.