Research Unit for Indigenous Language students

Brigitte Agnew

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.

Mat Bettinson

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 Krajinovic

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

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 Nyhuis

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.