In its sixth year of being presented, the annual Rodney Huddleston Prize is awarded to the best paper published in the previous year of the Australian Journal of Linguistics as judged by the members of the Australian Linguistics Society.
The $1,000 cash prize is generously funded by Taylor and Francis, the publishers of AJL, and is named after AJL’s first editor, Rodney Huddleston, who edited the journal from 1979-1985.
The winner will be announced at the ALS Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, 29 November 2023.
To cast your vote
Voting closes at 2.00 pm on Wednesday, 29 November 2023.
2023 Student and Indigenous Conference Attendance Support grants now open
Applications are now open for the Student Conference Attendance and Indigenous Conference Attendance support grants, to assist presenters with costs to attend the 2023 ALS conference. We invite First Nations presenters and student presenters to submit applications for expenses of up to $800 to attend the conference and present their papers. Applications close on 22 October. Details and the application portals may be found under the funding and support tab.
ALS votes to support the Yes case in the Voice referendum
In September the ALS executive conducted a survey of members on (a) whether ALS should take a public position on the Voice referendum, and (b) if so, whether that position should be in support of the yes case or the no case. Responses to the survey were overwhelmingly in favour of taking a position, and for that position to support the yes case. The executive thanks all members who participated in the survey.
ALS grants scheme and Laves and Jalwang scholarships recipients announced
ALS received a particularly large number of high quality applicants for the 2023 Research Grants scheme, and for the Gerhardt Laves Scholarship and the Jalwang Scholarship. All applicants are commended for the quality of their projects.
The panel has now notified the recipients, and ALS congratulates the following successful applicants. A brief description of each project follows the list of recipients.
- Tom Ennever (Monash) for the project Ngurra Kutjuwarra: On Country Together
Gerhardt Laves Scholarship
- David Felipe Guerrero-Beltran (Melbourne/Université Paris Cité) for the project Tense, aspect, and modality in Gu-jingaliya (Maningrida, Northern Australia)
- Kirsty McDougall (Cambridge) and Debbie Loakes (Melbourne) Investigating the interaction between voice quality and plosive production in Australian Englishes
- Alex Bowen (Melbourne) Communication about criminal law and justice with NT Aboriginal defendants
- Tula Wynyard (Melbourne) Topics in Ritharrŋu-Wägilak Grammar
- Laurits Stapput Knudsen (Newcastle) Landscape, cognition, and language: A fieldwork-based investigation of inter- and intracommunity variation in Wik Mungkan
- Kate Charlwood (Melbourne) A linguistic description of contemporary Tiwi spoken by senior speakers
Ngurra Kutjuwarra: On Country Together (Ennever)
This project will bring into public view a published corpus of audio-visual materials that were recorded as part of the Return To Country trips organised by Warlayirti Artists (Balgo, Australia) in tandem with a range of other Aboriginal organisations of the (northern) western desert region: Kiwirrkurra IPA Rangers, Kanyirninpa Tjukurrpa ('KJ') and Japingka Aboriginal Art. In collaboration with the attendees on these trips, the aim of this project is to celebrate the significance of these trips through making accessible a corpus of language materials on an online portal. The primary outcomes are: i) An accessible online portal comprising an interactive map detailing the Return to Country trips with audio-visual media embedded on the map interface. ii) All audio-visual materials will be geo-located on the interactive map which will allow users to hear transcribed and translated stories in Kukatja and Pintupi. The map will also include community-approved toponymic information along with relevant stories for these places. iii) Artists associated with Warlayirti will be able to link their web-based artist bios with these stories as well as any online artworks they have. iv) All recordings (and accompanying placename and family history information) will be carefully worked through with individuals to ensure appropriate access conditions are in place.
Tense, aspect, and modality in Gu-jingaliya (Maningrida, Northern Australia) (Guerrero-Beltran)
This project aims to gather firsthand data for the analysis of the grammar and semantics of tense, aspect, and modality (TAM) in Gu-jingaliya (Burarra/Gun-nartpa), a non-Pama-Nyungan language from the Maningrida linguistic family. This project is directly related to my ongoing doctoral research on the expression of tense, aspect, and modality in Gu-jingaliya, which jointly involve the Université Paris Cité (France) and the University of Melbourne (Australia), in the form of a dual-Ph.D.
Gu-jingaliya has been the subject of previous grammatical descriptions, dictionaries, as well as corpus materials in the form of recordings and transcriptions. Despite this, it remains largely under-described in terms of its semantic and discursive characteristics. Like other Maningrida languages, the Gu jingaliya TAM system is of great grammatical complexity. It involves a highly synthetic verbal morphology, complex predication, non-verbal predication, and modal-aspectual specialised adverbs, whose interpretation relies upon both semantic and pragmatic factors. The tense system attested in Gu-jingaliya is based on a non-linear precontemporary vs contemporary temporal anchoring, rather than on the opposition between past and present, found in most languages. Typically, the same verbal inflection is used for ‘earlier today’ and ‘distant past’ (precontemporary), and another inflection is used for ‘just now’ and ‘yesterday’ (contemporary). The language also lacks specialised aspect markers on verb morphology. Instead, serial verb constructions are one of the main mechanisms to express aspectual contrasts. However, the preliminary results of this ongoing research show that the semantics of complex predication is far more complex than that. However, the existing data is still not enough to distinguish highly systematic patterns from idiosyncratic or incidental constructions. Particularly, there is a lack of negative data, which is crucial to understand the role of semantic and pragmatic factors in the temporal, aspectual, and modal interpretation of sentences in this language.
The firsthand documentation of new data is therefore highly relevant for the ongoing research and will contribute to the understanding of TAM in Gu-jingaliya and other non-Pama-Nyungan languages. This project will also complement ongoing language projects from Maningrida (such as the Burarra/Gun-narptpa dictionary) and will contribute to the preservation of the knowledge, experiences, and cultural heritage of the Maningrida Traditional Owners.
Investigating the interaction between voice quality and plosive production in Australian Englishes (McDougall & Loakes)
The aim of this work is to investigate the connection between voice quality (laryngeal behaviour) and consonant realisation (supralaryngeal behaviour). The project brings together these two, initially apparently independent phonetic features, and looks at how they interact. We will focus on VC sequences, looking at voice quality in the vowel and the type of plosive /t/ that occurs following the vowel production. Previous pilot work has shown that speaker groups with “breathier” /t/ types, such as fricatives and affricates, in turn have breathier voice qualities, while speaker groups that use “creakier” /t/ types such as glottal stops and pre-glottalised variants, also have creakier voices overall. These findings raise interesting questions about the groupings of these types of stops across each group and whether /t/ realisation could be promoted by voice quality.
This project is an experimental phonetic analysis looking at acoustic cues in vowels and consonants, and their possible interaction. The database contains speech from 61 speakers of Australian English (Aboriginal and mainstream Australian English) in two locations in Victoria (Mildura and Warrnambool). Regional variation and gender will also be examined as they have been shown to be important drivers of sociophonetic patterning for voice quality and plosive realisation when these two variables are looked at independently. The main research question is: Is there any correlation between type of supralaryngeal articulation (i.e. consonant quality) and glottal settings (i.e. voice quality)?
The idea that voice quality and consonant production could be connected has been articulated by a number of researchers over the last few years, but to date there is no detailed analysis into the topic. This project is important because it brings new understanding in analysing the interplay of voice quality and plosive production, potentially uncovering some of the underpinnings of variation which to our knowledge have not been comprehensively analysed in any variety of English.
As well as the knowledge outcome described above, we will produce a Journal of Phonetics paper with both named investigators and an RA as contributing authors. We also aim to have at least two lab talks to workshop some of the ideas, and will present at the SocioPhonAus conference in Brisbane and the British Association of Academic Phoneticians Colloquium in Cardiff, both in 2024.
Communication about criminal law and justice with NT Aboriginal defendants (Bowen)
This is a linguistic study of the quality of communication between legal professionals working in the settler legal system (lawyers, judges, court staff etc, who are mostly non-Aboriginal people) and criminalised Aboriginal people (and families). It is known that communication in the NT legal system is generally poor. Communication problems involve a combination of language, legal and cultural differences which are not well understood, especially within the settler legal system. There is desire, particularly from Aboriginal legal services such as research partner the Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA), to develop better capability to describe and advocate about language issues, and to educate settler legal professionals about skills that might improve their work.
This research is a partnership with NAAJA and builds on years of work, relationships, observations and looking for opportunities to learn about and improve communication. The goal of this research is to improve the foundations for language analysis and communication capability in NT criminal law contexts and beyond. This will be advanced by accumulating better evidence about key issues about what currently makes communication effective or meaningful, and by demystifying some knowledge relationships between the settler legal system, linguistics, and Aboriginal knowledges and experience. Through an intercultural and interdisciplinary methodology, it aims to centre Aboriginal knowledge, experience and expertise relating to language and law; focused through close linguistic study of actual language, evidenced in recordings of actual legal communication in and around NT Local Court circuits.
The project will be primarily carried out by the graduate researcher, Alex Bowen, a former NAAJA lawyer. The project design is grounded in ongoing relationships of trust with Aboriginal people including some who occupy leadership positions in NT and Aboriginal legal systems. Practical experience working in this environment helps to identify opportunities for incremental change in legal practices, building on existing settler recognition of language difficulties. However, the potential for short-term practical developments must be balanced against the need to talk about deeper problems with the settler legal system and the complexity of communication between cultures and legal systems.
The project therefore aims to contribute to incremental change in how settler legal professionals understand and carry out communication, in a way which will work towards greater intercultural understanding and recognition of the need for Aboriginal language expertise. It also aims to develop capacity to name and describe legal communication problems. Linguistics has numerous tools to describe (mis)communication, but these may be inaccessible and may not readily incorporate or align with Aboriginal knowledges. Therefore the methodology aims to model ways for Aboriginal language professionals to take ownership of this capacity for analysis and advocacy into the future.
Topics in Ritharrŋu-Wägilak Grammar (Wynyard)
Ritharrŋu-Wägilak is a highly endangered Indigenous language of Arnhem Land with only a small number of older fluent speakers remaining. Therefore, urgent action is needed to document the language in partnership with Elders. The region where the language is spoken lies between the Pama-Nyungan Yolŋu languages to the north and east and the traditional lands of Non-Pama-Nyungan languages such as Ngandi, Marra, Ngalakgan, Alawa and Rembarrnga, which have different structural properties. Previous documentation hints at intriguing patterns influenced by neighbouring languages. However, existing documentation is limited, and the proposed research aims to fill these gaps through in-depth analysis of newly collected data. The research aims to document and analyse the complex grammatical structures of Ritharrŋu-Wägilak, with particular attention to multi-verb constructions such as serial verb constructions and co-verbs; as well as the complex system of bound and free pronouns. The methodology involves conducting fieldwork in collaboration with Elder speakers to record and transcribe the language in various contexts such as elicitation, narratives, and naturalistic speech. The research output will be a published PhD thesis, as well as contributions to the revitalisation programs led by the Ngukurr Language Centre and other language education organisations in the region.
The PhD thesis will contribute to Australian linguistics by analysing new language data within the context of linguistic typology and theory, expanding our understanding of linguistic diversity. It may also benefit research in syntax, morphology, phonology, historical linguistics, and language contact and change. The Ritharrŋu-Wägilak community has expressed a strong desire for language documentation and revival, making this research significant in preserving cultural and linguistic knowledge. The linguistic documentation of the language could open avenues for grants and research funding, providing economic and social advantages for language workers and the community. It will also offer younger Ritharrŋu/Wägilak people additional opportunities to engage with their heritage language.
The research outcomes will include a published PhD thesis that will incorporate and analyse the recorded linguistic data to document complex grammatical phenomena. New lexical data and detailed analysis of the language will represent a step forward in our understanding of Ritharrŋu-Wägilak, as well as contributing to linguistic work on languages in the region and Australian languages more broadly. Given that Australian languages exhibit linguistic patterns that are rare in the global context, this data and analysis will also provide scope for further research in linguistic theory and typology. Additional outputs may include journal articles, conference presentations, and a plain-language report for community organisations. The project involves recording language with Elder speakers to capture valuable insights for future generations. The recordings will be archived in PARADISEC and AIATSIS with appropriate access permissions determined by the community of speakers. Extensive consultation with the local Indigenous community will be an ongoing part of the project, and collaborations with the Ngukurr Language Centre and local schools aim to create teaching materials towards preserving the Ritharrŋu-Wägilak language.
Landscape, cognition, and language: A fieldwork-based investigation of inter- and intracommunity variation in Wik Mungkan (Knudsen)
The aim of this project is to explore how landscape, culture, and social diversity shape the representation of physical space in the minds and grammars of Wik-Mungkan speakers. The project provides new insights into human spatial cognition, spatial language, and the environment by documenting modern day Wik-Mungkan language and culture in Aurukun.
This grant will fund fieldwork that is not supported by other sources. During this fieldwork, I will collaborate with community members to verify data and fill gaps in the corpus. It is crucial to validate my interpretation of these texts within the community before finalising my PhD and will support the quality of the descriptive work. The data collection methods include standardised elicitation tools described in the project description. By allowing for validation of the collected materials this funding will also facilitate an additional opportunity to engage the community in the analysis of the language, and the conclusions to be drawn from the work. Outcomes include new knowledge in the areas of diversity in spatial behaviour within a single community, the influence of culture and landscape on language development, and the conceptualisation of space in response to the environment, and the research will offer empirical insights into patterns of individual linguistic variation shaped by demographic, cultural, and environmental factors.
The field trip will also bring community benefits. Collaboration with the Koolkan School in Aurukun is an essential part of the project, and this trip will allow for further discussion and dissemination of previous work on young people's spatial language to be shared with the Wik language team at the school. Part of my PhD is a collaboration with this team to produce knowledge of young people’s spatial language, to be used as a benchmark for curriculum development in the language program. Furthermore, through the Cape York Employment (CYE) program “Pathways to Real Jobs”, I have been involved in introducing linguistic software and recording equipment to community members interested in doing cultural projects, including language programs in the community. By being present in the community, I can continue supporting this program and its participants in their training.
In summary, this field trip is a crucial step in confirming and refining the collected data, engaging with the Wik-Mungkan community, and contributing to our understanding of spatial grammar, Australian languages, and cultural preservation. The outcomes will advance knowledge in diverse research areas, ensure community engaging in all stages of my PhD project, as well as benefit the community through capacity building and curriculum development.
A linguistic description of contemporary Tiwi spoken by senior speakers (Charlwood)
This project aims to document, describe, and analyse contemporary Tiwi spoken on the Tiwi Islands (Northern Territory, Australia). The research will focus on the language of speakers aged 50 to 80 and be conducted primarily in Wurrumiyanga with shorter periods spent in Milikapiti and Pirlangimpi.
Timely documentation of Tiwi is important because the grammatical structures of Tiwi have changed significantly over recent times, yet the last documentation of Tiwi was conducted over 40 years ago by Lee (1987). Tiwi community members are deeply concerned that Tiwi is becoming further endangered as a result of ongoing contact with English. In response to these concerns, the project focusses on the language of senior speakers for the sake of language preservation. The study offers an opportunity to evaluate the vitality of the language and the extent to which linguistic innovations are emerging in the language that may or may not be related to contact with English. An updated account of Tiwi also has the potential to direct language maintenance efforts and inform educational materials.
Focussing on the language of speakers aged 50-80 provides an opportunity for longitudinal analysis of language variation and change in the context of contact with English-lexifier languages. This cohort of speakers broadly corresponds to the cohort of speakers recorded during Lee’s study of young people’s Tiwi in the 1970s/80s. Lee (1987) describes a striking amount of variation in her study, and so the present research hopes to determine whether the language ecology has maintained a similar degree of variation, continued to shift, or stabilised towards a more homogenous register of the language.
A varied pool of data collection methods will be used to create a multi-genre corpus of contemporary Tiwi. As well as personal narratives, conversation between multiple participants, and targeted elicitation, I will collect stories based on picture and video stimuli (for example, O’Shannessy’s Monster Story series, Totem Field Storyboards and the Pingu series).
Particular areas of grammatical interest include argument marking; the expression of tense, aspect, and mood; and the function of co-occurring determiners. Preliminary analysis of data collected during a two-week field trip in 2022 suggests variation in how person and TAM are marked on the verb as well as preliminary evidence that contact with Kriol may be leading to the development of coverb reduplication to express durative aspect. Furthermore, despite significant reductions in verb morphology over recent years, preliminary analysis of recently collected data suggests that object pronouns may be re-affixing to the verb. Finally, the functional split between co-occurring determiners has been under-analysed in previous descriptions and is worth further investigation.
Contributing to both the linguistic and Tiwi communities, a comprehensive study of contemporary Tiwi is long overdue and will require a significant period of field work to be successfully achieved.
Inaugural Barb Kelly Prize and 2023 Michael Clyne Prize awarded
The 2023 Michael Clyne Prize for the most outstanding postgraduate research thesis in immigrant bilingualism and language contact (awarded jointly with Applied Linguistics Association of Australia) has been awarded to Van Tran of Charles Sturt University for her thesis Home language maintenance among Vietnamese-Australian families. We note that this thesis was also awarded CSU's Research Thesis of the Year. ALS congratulates Tran on receiving the 2023 Clyne Prize. The applicants for the Prize this year presented a field of very high quality theses, and all are congratulated on their research achievements. A summary of Tran's thesis can be found below.
This year also saw the inaugural Barb Kelly Prize for the most outstanding postgraduate research thesis in any area of linguistics. This Prize honours the late Barb Kelly, an exceptional scholar and inspiring mentor to students, who unexpectedly passed away in December last year. It is appropriate that ALS recognise her contribution to our profession with this named award. The recipient of the inaugural Barb Kelly Prize is Sasha Wilmoth for her University of Melbourne thesis The dynamics of contemporary Pitjantjatjara: An intergenerational study. The field of applicants for the Kelly Prize was particularly large and impressive, and the panel was faced with a selection of very high quality theses that speak to the exceptional standard of postgraduate research work in Australia today. The panel particularly commends the other shortlisted theses: Van's Clyne Prize winning work; Josua Dahmen's thesis An interactional perspective on Jaru conversation (Macquarie); and Elena Sheard's thesis Explaining language change over the lifespan: A panel and trend analysis of Australian English (ANU). ALS congratulates Wilmoth on receiving this inaugural prize, and congratulates all the applicants on their work. A summary of Wilmoth's thesis can also be found below.
The dynamics of contemporary Pitjantjatjara: An intergenerational study. Sasha Wilmoth
This thesis investigates several areas of Pitjantjatjara grammar, drawing attention to how the language varies between and within generations, and how it is being both adapted and maintained by young adults. The primary goal is to find out how young people are speaking Pitjantjatjara today, against a backdrop of rapid social change and language contact. How does their language use differ in comparison to older generations, and to previous descriptions, and what areas of the grammar are being changed or maintained? Pitjantjatjara is one of only a dozen Australian Indigenous languages that have been continuously transmitted since colonisation and are still being acquired by children as a first language today. Many Pitjantjatjara speakers have noticed that the language is changing and are concerned about its future.
In light of speakers’ concerns, which are presented at length, this thesis investigates six topics in the language: phonetics/phonology, verbal morphology, case-marking, possession, nominalisation, and negation. Each presents a different picture of a dynamic system in constant flux, with different patterns of variation and change, maintenance and innovation, simplification and complexification. To investigate these issues, a corpus of over 40,000 words was recorded in Pukatja/Ernabella (SA). This was designed to capture spontaneous speech among different generations of women. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods is used to investigate variables and grammatical structures of interest.
In some areas, such as the phonetics/phonology, there are numerous differences between generations; over a dozen variables are described. In the verbal morphology, there is variation in both derivational and inflectional morphology. This appears to be system-internal, not motivated by language contact, and shows an overall maintenance of a complex and interesting system. The syntax of case is fully maintained, although there is some change in allomorphy, and an innovative use of the inclusory construction, that is not elsewhere documented. Possession is an area where contact-induced change has been reported in many languages, including Pitjantjatjara. However, variation in this domain appears stable between generations, and influenced by subtle semantic, pragmatic, and lexical factors. Nominalisation shows significant morphosyntactic complexity, which is described in detail. Complex sentence structures utilising nominalisations are being fully maintained, with no reduction in the range or use of subordination constructions among young people. Negation is also an area with significant complexity in Pitjantjatjara, and is typologically unusual in many respects. While there is currently no variation in negation between generations, there are some differences to previous descriptions, and this can shed light on broader questions of how negation constructions evolve. Overall, the findings do not point to a radical break between ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’ Pitjantjatjara, or to any significant grammatical borrowing from English.
The thesis makes a descriptive and analytical contribution to our understanding of Pitjantjatjara phonology, morphology, and syntax, pointing out several areas of typological interest. It adds to the growing body of work describing variation, change, and contact in contemporary Aboriginal language varieties. The findings illustrate the benefits of embedding the study of variation and young people’s language within language documentation.
Home language maintenance among Vietnamese-Australian families. Van Tran
Home language maintenance is of importance in culturally and linguistically diverse societies including Australia, where more than 300 languages are spoken and over one-fifth of the population speak a language other than English at home. While home language maintenance is associated with academic, social, cultural, and economic benefits for both individuals and societies, it can be a challenge for multilingual families due to child, parent, community, and society level factors.
Underpinned by Spolsky’s language policy theory, which comprises language practices, language ideologies, and language management, the purpose of this mixed methods research is to explore home language maintenance among Vietnamese-Australian families. To achieve this purpose, this thesis aims to explore how factors related to demographics, language practices, language ideologies, and language management are associated with: (1) Vietnamese-Australian children’s proficiency and use in Vietnamese and English, (2) Vietnamese-Australian parents’ language use with their child and in social situations and their attitudes towards home language maintenance, and (3) Vietnamese-Australian parents having language policies. Additionally, it aims to: (4) describe Vietnamese-Australian families’ language policies in relation to home language maintenance, and (5) explore successful experience of home language maintenance among Vietnamese-Australian families.
To achieve these aims, data were collected from a questionnaire completed by 151 Vietnamese-Australian families and a focus group discussion with seven parents from five families. All the families had children under 18 years of age. Survey data were analysed using Pearson’s correlation, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and multiple regression models. An inductive thematic analysis using NVivo was applied to the focus group discussion to explore successful home language maintenance.
The results from these analyses were presented in four published papers. The first paper highlights that children’s home language maintenance does not negatively impact English proficiency and is significantly dependent on parents’ language use and attitudes towards home language maintenance. The second paper indicates that parents’ language use with their children is positively linked to their language use in social situations. This in turn is higher when parents are younger, have higher Vietnamese and lower English proficiency, and attend community events more frequently. Parents’ attitudes towards home language maintenance correlate with their perceptions of cultural identity, beliefs in the importance of English maintenance and in the benefits of home language maintenance, and their age. The third paper highlights that only a third of the families had a family language policy. Having a family language policy is associated with parents’ Vietnamese proficiency, parents’ language use with children, and their intention of future residence in Vietnam. The fourth paper concludes with an in-depth investigation of families’ successful experiences of home language maintenance. It presents parents’ motivations, challenges, practices and strategies, and recommendations for support in home language maintenance.
This PhD research found that home language maintenance is dependent on parents’ efforts including persistent language input, positive attitudes towards home language maintenance, and consistent reinforcement of a family language policy. The research also highlights parents’ desire for the inclusion of home language maintenance in formal education. This research is expected to raise public awareness of the importance of home language maintenance, promote multilingualism, and support multilingual families in Australia and around the world.
The ALS offers a range of schemes to support linguistics research, including research grants, scholarships and prizes, and as well as publication support and conference attendance support. Applications for the following schemes are now open:
Research Grant Scheme (up to $5,000 for research in any area of linguistics); Jalwang Scholarship (converting research into materials of benefit to the language community); Gerhardt Laves Scholarship (fieldwork expenses for postgraduate student researchers in Indigenous languages of Australia or its immediate region); Susan Kaldor Scholarship (student attendance at an international summer school or institute). Michael Clyne Prize (most outstanding postgraduate research thesis in immigrant bilingualism and language contact) (awarded jointly with Applied Linguistics Association of Australia); Barb Kelly Prize (most outstanding postgraduate research thesis in any area of linguistics).
Applications are open to ALS members. Applications close on 22 May 2023, and are to be made using the online forms under the Funding and Support tab. Members are strongly encouraged to apply for these schemes.
Note: as a Not For Profit organisation, the ALS does not pay institutional Indirect Costs relating to funding it awards.
The Publication Support Grant scheme and Indigenous and Student Conference Attendance Support schemes are not open yet and will be advertised in due course.
The 2022 Rodney Huddleston Award has been announced. The winner is:
The annual Rodney Huddleston Prize is awarded to the best paper published in the previous year of the Australian Journal of Linguistics as judged by the members of the Australian Linguistics Society. The $1000 cash prize is generously funded by Taylor and Francis, the publishers of AJL, and is named after the journal’s first editor, Rodney Huddleston. The winner is announced at the ALS Annual General Meeting.
In its fifth year of being presented, the annual Rodney Huddleston Prize is awarded to the best paper published in the previous year of the Australian Journal of Linguistics as judged by the members of the Australian Linguistics Society.
The winner will be announced at the ALS Annual General Meeting on Thursday, 1 December 2022.
Voting closes at 10.00 on Thursday, 1 December 2021.
ALS 2022 Student Conference Attendance Support and Indigenous Conference Attendance Support grants now open
Applications are now open for the Student Conference Attendance and Indigenous Conference Attendance support grants, to assist presenters with costs to attend the 2022 ALS conference. We invite First Nations presenters and student presenters to submit applications for expenses of up to $800 to attend the conference and present their papers. Applications close on 16 November. Details and the application portals may be found under the funding and support tab.
2022 Research Grants announced
ALS is pleased to announce the award of three grants under the Research Grant Scheme. We congratulate the following grantees, with a summary of the funded projects:
Domestic uses of fire in past and present Australia: what language can tell us.
Maïa Ponsonnet (UWA/Laboratoire Dynamique Du Language, Lyon) and Luisa Miceli (UWA)
Bringing together Australian linguists, First Nations language experts, and archaeologists, this project will innovate a style of collaboration where language knowledge and lexicography play a pivotal role in understanding Australian cultures past and present. The team will explore an under-researched aspect of Australian Indigenous life: domestic uses of fire. In spite of their cultural centrality, everyday practices and techniques around fire in ‘camps’ (i.e. hearths) have not been systematically documented so far (but see Evans 1992), perhaps because they typically pertain to traditionally ‘female’ knowledge.
Building on a pilot study that involved 10 Australian languages (Ward et al. 2021), this project will systematically investigate an additional 30 languages across the continent. From this data we will extract frequent lexical categories for functions and techniques related to fires, including potential regional contrasts and historical developments. This will feed linguistic analyses of semantic extension networks within this rich and significant field (article to be submitted to the Australian Journal of Linguistics). These linguistic results will in turn inform archaeological enquiries based on hearth excavations (article to be submitted to Australian Archaeology).
The project also includes a fieldwork component, allowing the academic linguists and archaeologists on the project to undertake consultation with Noongar First Nations experts. Their contribution will bring a contemporary emic perspective onto the lexical data, and will serve as a springboard to develop extensive collaborations with Indigenous communities around this project in the future.
German as a Heritage Language and Culture in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley Australia Phase 2
Jaime Hunt (UON) and Sacha Davis (UON)
This project forms part of a multigenerational study investigating socio-historical factors shaping the maintenance, evolution and/or loss of cultural and linguistic practices of German-speaking migrants and their descendants living in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. This also includes an analysis of the ethnolinguistic vitality of German as a heritage language in the area. The experiences and language use of German-speaking migrants to regional centres and their descendants have been largely overlooked in previous studies, which have focused on either migration to capital cities or relatively concentrated and isolated rural communities. Conversely, regional urban centres, with their distinct cultural-linguistic environments, have previously been neglected in the literature.
Phase 1 of this project (German as a Heritage Language in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley,) involved interviewing 29 second and third generation descendants of German-speaking migrants. Phase 2 investigates participants who migrated to the region from a German-speaking land in the period from the 1930s to the early 1970s. They will be asked to attend one interview to discuss their lived experiences before and after migration, German cultural practices, language use before and after arrival, and (possible) cultural and linguistic transmission to subsequent generations. These interviews will be analysed in the context of changing language policy in Australia, both at the national and state-levels, as well as fluctuating language education policy. Where possible, these interviews will be held in German, thereby providing both sociolinguistic and historical evidence and detailed samples for corpus linguistic analysis of phenomena such as code-switching and anglicism use. Few previous studies of German-speakers in Australia have focused on large samplings from three generations; by extending our study to first generation migrants, we are able to draw broader conclusions about cultural-linguistic maintenance, shift, and loss across multiple generations. In addition to academic publications, this study will inform an exhibition at Newcastle Museum, opening in August 2023. If participants grant permission, edited audio data from the interviews will also be made publicly available as an enduring research asset via the Living Histories website (https://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au), the digital home of the University of Newcastle's Special Collections. This grant will fund the transcribing of interviews with first-generation German-speaking migrants. It is important that the transcriber be a native speaker of German who also has knowledge of the local area and is familiar with Australian English. This will allow for a more accurate textual record of local references and instances of potential code-switching.
To the side of, or just nearby? An eye-tracking study of an undifferentiated egocentric transverse axis in Australian English.
Bill Palmer (UON) and Kiwako Ito (UON)
This study tests the spontaneous interpretation of spatial terms by native speakers of Australian English. Specifically, the experiment tests differences in the degree to which speakers apply a transverse interpretation to terms such as to the side of, at the side of, beside, next to, by, and near. We aim to test a hypothesis that these terms sit in that order on a cline from strongest to weakest effect in prompting an undifferentiated transverse interpretation, rather than merely encoding proximity. In other words, we hypothesize that speakers are most likely to interpret to the side of as a substitute for to the left of and to the right of (the transverse axis), but not as a substitute for in front of or behind (the sagittal axis), whereas they are most likely to interpret near as encoding locations on both axes – i.e. simply encoding proximity, with terms in between on the cline displaying a increasingly weak transverse effect. The study also aims to test the hypothesis that a language may encode an undifferentiated transverse axis (treating left and right alike) in the egocentric (“relative”) frame of reference, even a language that makes heavy use of egocentric left and right like English.
We propose to test these hypotheses by employing an experimental eye-tracking protocol that can capture the granularity of spatial term interpretation necessary to observe degrees of strength in transverse interpretation. The project will generate data from monolingual adult English speakers that can serve as the baseline data for future research in various directions, such as spatial language processing, child spatial language acquisition, and cognitive processing of spatial terms in aging adults. The findings will be applicable to understanding languages other than English, including Indigenous Australian languages, that may appear not to encode an egocentric transverse axis at all due to an absence of projective left-right terms, but may in fact encode a transverse axis, just one that is undifferentiated.