Research Unit for Indigenous Language staff
- Professor Rachel Nordlinger
Professor of Linguistics
Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language
- Associate Professor
Deputy Director, RUIL
Chief Investigator, ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language
- Allyra Murray
Project Officer, RUIL
- Associate Professor Brett Baker
Associate Professor in Linguistics
- Dr Rosey Billington
- Dr Lucy Davidson
- Dr Rebecca Defina
- Professor Janet Fletcher FAHA
Professor of Linguistics and Appllied Linguistics, Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language
- Dr Bill Forshaw
Academic Specialist - Indigenous Education
- Dr Jennifer Green
Postdoctoral Fellow In Australian Sign Languages
- Associate Professor Barbara Kelly
Associate Professor in Sociolinguistics
- Sophie Lewincamp
Nyingarn Project Manager
- Dr Debbie Loakes
- Dr John Mansfield
ARC Decra Research Fellow
- Dr Ruth Singer
Postdoctoral Fellow In Indigenous Language Documentation
- Professor Lesley Stirling
Head - School Of Languages And Linguistics
- Dr Jill Vaughan
- Professor Gillian Wigglesworth
Professor of Linguistics, Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language
Research Unit for Indigenous Language students
Brigitte Agnew is writing a grammatical description of Mangarla, a Pama-Nyungan language of the Marrngu family, originally spoken in the Great Sandy Desert in north Western Australia.
As an unusual blend of technologist and linguist, Mat Bettison’s academic focus is two fold: social web approaches to language endangerment initiatives and broader linguistic issues relating to the rise of social media in China. In 2014 he became a Doctor of Philosophy – Arts student at the University of Melbourne. Mat’s research is aimed at scalable methods in documenting endangered languages, or to put it another way, using mobile technology to crowdsource language from speaker communities at risk of language loss. In such a way Mat hopes to play a part in ensuring that future generations have access to the rich cultural knowledge of the dwindling number of languages in the world.
Ana Krajinović is a joint Doctor of Philosophy – Arts student at the University of Melbourne and Humboldt University in Berlin. Her PhD research focuses on TMA expressions in Nafsan, also known as South Efate, spoken on the island of Efate in Vanuatu. The study of TMA in Nafsan gives special attention to mood and aspect, the most prominent categories of its TMA system. Starting from a more detailed description of grammatical encoding of TMA in Nafsan, the main goal of Ana’s PhD project is to show what a mood-prominent language like Nafsan can clarify when put in typological and theoretical debates. She also intends to rely on different theoretical approaches for a deeper semantic and pragmatic analysis of TMA in Nafsan. The main sources of language data are the Nafsan corpus collected by Nick Thieberger and Ana’s fieldwork data.
Gemma Morales is working on a Doctor of Philosophy – Arts research project investigating the development of Yolngu Matha (home language) literacy skills in Indigenous children from remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, Australia. The project involves the creation of iPad apps designed to assess and train phonological awareness and letter knowledge in Yolngu Matha. Gemma is investigating whether these resources will facilitate the acquisition of early literacy for these communities, which come from oral traditions. Gemma is also working as a research assistant on the Aboriginal Child Language Acquisition Project (ACLA2), which is being conducted by researchers from the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University. ACLA2 documents the languages that Indigenous children use and hear at home and in school.
Peter is conducting Doctor of Philosophy – Arts research on the phonology of Wubuy, an endangered polysynthetic language of Southeast Arnhem Land, primarily spoken in the remote community of Numbulwar. The language is known for having complex interactions between phonology and morphology, and it is hoped that his research will lead to a clearer understanding of these. Peter also completed his undergraduate and honours studies at the University of Melbourne. His Honours research concerned the morphological integration of English loanwords into Arabic, and he retains an interest in how grammars react to contact with other languages, and in what this can reveal about language in general.
Professor Linda Barwick
Linda Barwick (Associate Dean (Research) at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney), is a musicologist specialising in the study of Australian Indigenous and immigrant musics and in the digital humanities (particularly archiving and repatriation of ethnographic field recordings as a site of interaction between researchers and cultural heritage communities). She has studied community music practices through fieldwork in Australia, Italy and the Philippines. Collaborations with Australian linguists have been particularly important for Linda’s work on documenting songs in a number of Australian communities. She has collaborated with several RUIL members over the years, including Nick Thieberger (especially through involvement in PARADISEC), Rachel Nordlinger and Jenny Green (with whom she collaborates on a current ARC Linkage Project with the Central Land Council), Joe Blythe and John Mansfield (Murrinh-patha song) and Ruth Singer (Mawng song). Linda is also an associate investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language.
Associate Professor Steven Bird
Steven Bird is Associate Professor in Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne, and Senior Research Associate at the Linguistic Data Consortium. His research focusses on formal and computational models for linguistic information, with application to human language technologies and to the description of the world’s 7,000 languages. He led the University of Melbourne team which developed Aikuma, an android app for preserving the last words of the world’s endangered languages, which won the Grand Prize in the Open Source Software World Challenge 2013. Before coming to the University of Melbourne he did doctoral and postdoctoral research at the University of Edinburgh (1987-94). From 1995-97 he conducted linguistic fieldwork on the languages of western Cameroon, published a dictionary, and helped develop several new writing systems. From 1998-2002 he was Associate Director of the Linguistic Data Consortium at the University of Pennsylvania, where he led an R&D team working on open-source software for linguistic annotation.
Emeritus Professor Barry Blake
Barry Blake is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at la Trobe University. He is author or joint author of descriptions of three languages of western Queensland based on fieldwork undertaken in the period 1966-1976 and of several descriptions of Victorian languages based on nineteenth century sources. His most recent work has been to produce a consolidated account of Yartwatjali, Tjapwurrung and Djadjawurrung, three closely related dialects of Western Kulin. He is currently an adviser to the Boandik community in the production of a resource volume on Bunganditj.
- Blake, B.J. 2010. Secret Language. Oxford: OUP
- Blake, B.J. 2007. Playing with Words: Humour in the English Language. London: Equinox
- Blake, B.J. 2007. All about Language. Oxford: OUP
- Breen, J. G. and Blake, B. J. 2006. A Grammar of Yalarnnga. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics
Dr Joe Blythe
Joe is Lecturer of Linguistics and Research Fellow (DECRA) at Macquarie University. Joe has conducted field research on the Kija and Jaru languages of northern Western Australia and continues fieldwork with speakers of the Murrinh-Patha language of Australia’s Northern Territory.
As an interactional linguist, Joe is interested in the relationships between linguistic structure and social action, and what these relationships reveal about social cognition and culture. He is concerned with how interlocutors coordinate with each other in making themselves understood, and in how they package their talk, gaze and gestures, etc., as moves directed towards interactional goals. He is especially interested in what social interaction reveals about why words and constructions are structured the way they are. Thus, do particular structures reveal affordances for delivering particular actions? Are these structures better adapted than alternative structures for delivering the desired actions? Can constraints on language use be observed to be driving structural and semantic change?
Cathy Bow is the project manager for the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages at Charles Darwin University, which is collecting and digitising Indigenous language materials from the Northern Territory and making them available via an open access website, Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages. Previously she was involved with training Indigenous linguists for a language revival project in Bourke, NSW, and also with analysis and preparation of data collected at Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre for dictionary publication. Outside of her work in Indigenous languages, Cathy has described the sound system of an African language, investigated language development in children with impaired hearing, explored endangered language documentation, and researched the language and communication needs of international medical graduates. She has worked as a teacher of English as an Additional Languages, a trainer and coach for language learners, and is the NT representative for OzCLO.
Dr Reuben Brown
Reuben Brown (PhD Ethnomusicology, University of Sydney) is an ARC Research Associate at the Faculty of VCA and MCM based at the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development, and Research Affiliate with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. Reuben has collaborated with Indigenous Australian ceremony leaders and artists as well as linguists, historians and musicologists to document the public performance traditions of kun-borrk / manyardi of western Arnhem Land and thabi of the Pilbara region, and to return legacy recordings in order to support community efforts to maintain and revitalise ceremonial practices, aspects of language and embodied knowledge passed down through performance.
Reuben’s research interests include investigating public ceremony of western Arnhem Land and the Pilbara as a site of intercultural exchange, and the role of digital environments in facilitating intergenerational transmission language, song, and dance. Current research collaborations with RUIL members include: investigating multilingualism and musical diversity in western Arnhem Land through various research initiatives led by Ruth Singer, Nicholas Evans, Isabel O’Keeffe, and Linda Barwick in collaboration with Inyjalarrku (mermaid songset) ceremony leaders David and Jenny Manmurulu, and creating a community database of legacy and contemporary recordings of solo and group performed song traditions of the Pilbara, in collaboration with elders, composers, and ARC Discovery Project CI’s Sally Treloyn and Nick Thieberger.
Margaret Carew has worked in the Northern Territory as a community linguist for 20 years, after studies in linguistics at the University of Melbourne (Bachelor of Arts - Honours) and Education and Applied Linguistics at Monash University (Diploma of Education; Masters of Applied Linguistics). She has undertaken long-term language research with the Gun-nartpa language group in north-central Arnhem Land since the 1990s, and continues to work with a Gun-nartpa language team on language documentation and publishing projects. She has also worked on projects with language teams at Ti Tree, Utopia, Wilora, Artarre, Willowra, Yuendumu, Yuelamu and at Tennant Creek.
Margaret has extensive experience in adult education with Indigenous adults, having taught in both Higher Education and VET programs in the area of linguistics and Indigenous language documentation. She has also worked collaboratively with linguistic colleagues and other organisations on a range of projects, including cross-platform creative projects which combine print, media and online components. She maintains websites for various language projects as part of her current role as project linguist at Batchelor Institute for Indigenous Tertiary Education.
Dr Alice Gaby
Alice Gaby is Senior Lecturer in the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University. Since 2002, she has collaborated with speakers of various Paman languages in the Cape York community of Pormpuraaw. She has published on a range of topics in grammatical description, typology, semantics, pragmatics, and the relationship between language, culture and cognition (many of which are available for download). Ongoing research interests include how the classificatory kinship systems is implicated in the grammatical expression of politeness in Pormpuraaw and elsewhere. Another current research project explores how people around the world draw on metaphor - of strikingly different kinds - to understand ineffable concepts such as time, as well as the cognitive impact of these metaphors. A third thread of research seeks to disentangle the respective contributions of language, culture, local geography, and communicative context in shaping how spatial relationships are conceptualised and described.
Dr Robert Mailhammer
Robert Mailhammer is a Senior Lecturer affiliated with the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and The MARCS Institute at the University of Western Sydney. Since 2007 Robert has been involved in the documentation and linguistic analysis of Iwaidjan languages, traditionally spoken in Northwestern Arnhem Land. His interest focuses especially on Amurdak, which is critically endangered, and Iwaidja as well as Aboriginal English. Robert has conducted fieldwork on Croker Island and Goulburn Island, working on Amurdak, Iwaidja, Mawng and Aboriginal English. He has published on Amurdak and Iwaidjan languages and is the co-author of Amurdak Inyman (2009), the first published collection of Amurdak texts with translations into Iwaidja and English as well as grammatical notes. Robert’s work on Australian Indigenous languages has been funded by a number of organisations, such as the Australian Research Council, the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the Volkswagenstiftung and the Endangered Languages Project.
Associate Professor Angela Morgan
Angela is Head of the Neuroscience of Speech group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Director of Research and Teaching for Speech Pathology at the University of Melbourne. Angela’s research focuses on the neurobiology of child speech and language disorders. Her vision is to bring neuroscientific evidence to everyday practice in Speech Pathology to optimise outcomes for children affected by speech and language disorders. She is focused on speech and language development in indigenous children as part of her wider program.
Dr Stephen Morey
Dr Stephen Morey is a senior Lecturer in the Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University. His principal research since 1996 has been languages of the Tai-Kadai and Tibeto-Burman families of Northeast India (and more recently neighbouring Myanmar), but he have also worked extensively on the Indigenous Languages of Victoria, in conjunction with Barry Blake (La Trobe), Heather Bowe (Monash) and Luise Hercus (ANU). This work has mostly involved the transcription and analysis of 19th century sources for the languages of Victoria, comparing them with the recordings from the fluent native speakers made by Luise Hercus in the 1960s. Publications have included grammars of Yorta Yorta (Bowe and Morey 1999), and Wati-Wati and Letyi-Letyi languages (in Blake, Hercus, Morey with Ryan 2011). Other publications have been on the Woiwurrung language (Morey 1999), Place names of Western Victoria (Morey 2005), negation in languages of Southeast Australia (Hercus and Morey 2008) and Gippsland (Morey in print). Together with Luise Hercus, Ted Ryan and Grace Koch, Stephen is currently preparing a monograph on the traditional Indigenous songs of Victoria, from linguistic, musicological, historical and ethnographic perspectives. He is also president of the Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity Inc.
Dr Isabel O’Keeffe
Isabel O’Keeffe (née Bickerdike) has a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts (with honours in linguistics) and in 2016 completed her Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) in Linguistics at the University of Melbourne with a thesis titled Multilingual manyardi/kun-borrk: Manifestations of Multilingualism in the classical song traditions of western Arnhem Land. The thesis examines the public dance-songs of Indigenous communities in western Arnhem Land and how they reflect and contribute to the region’s linguistic diversity and multilingual practices.
She is currently a Research Associate at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music collaborating with Dr Ruth Singer and Professor Linda Barwick on a Major Documentation Project funded by the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP): Empowering Indigenous youth to create a comprehensive pan-varietal, ethnobiological, anthropological record of Kun-barlang through training in low-cost language documentation technology (2016-2019). This project will produce a comprehensive documentation of the remaining varieties of Kun-barlang, a highly endangered language spoken in northwestern Arnhem Land, which has fewer than 60 speakers. Particular emphasis will be on documenting the full range of varieties and registers, including the undocumented ‘widow’s language’; and language in the domains of kinship, ethnobiology, music and public ceremony. Younger people in the Warruwi and Maningrida communities will be trained and supported in the use of low-cost language documentation technology and will be an integral part of the documentation team.
Isabel is also working with descendants of Wayilwan Ngiyambaa speakers to create language revival materials based on her honours thesis sketch grammar of Wayilwan Ngiyambaa, a ‘sleeping’ Indigenous language from northern NSW.
Joel Liddle Perrurle
Joel Liddle Perrurle is an Arrernte man with family ties to the Mparntwe/Tyuretye, Irlpme and Uremerne traditional estates in central Australia. His mother’s family are non-Indigenous and first arrived in Victoria in 1852. Joel commenced his PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2019. His research focuses on the utility of archival cultural collections and their value in building bilingual and bicultural curriculums for young Arrernte people to promote positive identity and enhanced mental health outcomes.
Joel is a speaker, reader and writer of the Arrernte dialect ‘Ikngerrepenhe’. He is passionate about learning languages and works alongside linguists and other researchers from the region. Joel is currently collaborating on a CoEDL funded ELPIS translation project with Jenny Green (RUIL, Unimelb) and Ben Foley (University of Queensland) to develop voice recognition technology for Arandic Languages. The aim to assist with the transcription of audio recordings of Arandic languages and thus improve community accessibility to important language materials.
Over the last decade Joel worked in a variety of engagement roles throughout remote Australia. He was a language consultant on the Indigemoji project that produced a set of emojis in the Arrernte language. Joel provided consultancy services for Desert Knowledge Australia’s program ‘Codes for Life’, a men’s behavioural and health and wellbeing program run by Aboriginal men across the region.
He has a Bachelors Degree in Sports Science (ACU Melbourne), a Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Knowledges (Charles Darwin University), a Professional Certificate in Indigenous Research (UniMelb), and is affiliated with the Indigenous Data Network (IDN - UoM) and the Strehlow Research Centre in Alice Springs.
Dr Sally Treloyn
Dr Sally Treloyn joined the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music in 2010 as a recipient of an inaugural John McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, having received her PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of Sydney in 2007. Her research focuses on recording and documenting of song and dance traditions in the Kimberley region of northwest Australia, and on developing strategies to support Indigenous stakeholders and organizations in their efforts to sustain their highly endangered musical practices and the knowledge systems to which they are attached. Sally is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Sydney, PARADISEC, and is Coordinator of the National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance in Australia. A list of Sally’s current projects is available on her Music, Mind & Wellbeing web page.