the Chameleon

edition #3
December, 2002


Career landmarks

Change of Position:

  • Peter Austin has just left the University of Melbourne to take up the Marit Rausing Chair in Field Linguistics and Directorship of the Endangered Languages Academic Program (ELAP) at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. This new position will involve setting up an MA and PhD in Language Documentation and Description and is part of a major new Endangered Languages Program being established at SOAS with support from the Lisbet Rausing Charitable Trust. Peter is currently at the University of Frankfurt having earlier this year received a Humboldt Prize, one of Germany’s most prestiguous awards for international leadership in research, valued at $100,000. He will take up the post at SOAS full-time in January next year. He can now be contacted via e-mail at

  • Anthony Grant has been appointed to the editorial advisory board of the Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages.

  • Alice Harris has moved from her former position as Professor of Linguistics & Anthropology, Vanderbilt University to the State University of New York, Stony Brook, where she is a member of the Department of Linguistics.

  • Catharina Williams-van Klinken has taken up a position as Language Director with the Peace Corps in Dili, East Timor. In this capacity she is setting up a 3-month intensive course in Tetun langauge for their volunteers. This means she has to deal with language contract in a practical way. One of her main challenges is working out how to teach a language which has lots of contact with 3 different languages (Portuguese, Indonesian and Tetun Terik), and in which the 3 languages have different levels of influence depending on the segment of society you are mixing with, and on the social context.

Grants for 2003

John Bowden

John Bowden (A.N.U.) and his Associate John Hajek (University of Melbourne) were granted A$110,000 over three years on their project:
Indigenous languages of eastern East Timor: description and contact studies
(ARC Discovery DP0344100 ).

Project Description: Both Austronesian and Papuan languages from eastern East Timor have undergone substantial changes which have presumably resulted from communal bilingualism in both sorts of languages. The project aims to document and explain these changes. Language contact has traditionally been a neglected area in historical linguistics and the East Timor situation will provide valuable material for a general theory of language change. Book length grammars of an Austronesian and a Papuan language, further grammatical sketches, and a number of papers on language contact will be produced as a result of the project.

Alice Harris

Congratulations to Alice Harris, whose project “Diachronic Morphology in Cross-Linguistic Perspective” (effective August 1, 2002) was awarded funding by the National Science Foundation (U.S.A.), BCS-0215523.


Gillian Wigglesworth (University of Melbourne) & Jane Simpson (University of Sydney) (also involving Patrick McConvell of AIATSIS/CRLC).
How mixed language input affects child language development: case studies from Central Australia

This project will involve case studies of three Aboriginal communities designed to address the following questions: RQ1: what kind of language input do indigenous Australian Aboriginal children receive from traditional indigenous languages, Kriol and varieties of English, and from code-switching involving these languages as used by adults and older children? RQ2: what effect does this have on the childrens language acquisition and how the input is reflected in their productive output? RQ3: what are the processes of language shift, maintenance and change which may be hypothesised to result from this multilingual environment, as evidenced by the childrens input and output and the degree to which this reflects transmission of the target languages, the loss of traditional languages, or the emergence of new mixed languages? To address the complexity of these questions, this project brings together people with expertise in three different, but related, fields: Central Australian languages (Simpson, Charola and Moses), first language acquisition (Wigglesworth), and historical change and language maintenance (Simpson). They will collect the data for the study by identifying the kinds of interactions young children are involved in, the language they use at different ages, and the breadth and variety of language the children are hearing.

Luisa Miceli

Congratulations Luisa, who has been awarded an Italian Government Grant to be taken up at the University of Pavia in January, 2003. Luisa’s nine month project is to study language contact in a multilingual Alpine valley in Italy.

Mireille Tremblay

The Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada have awarded funding to Mireille Tremblay (Principal Investigator), Monique Dufresne (Co-researcher), and Fernande Dupuis (Co-researcher) for their research project on the evolution of prefixes and particles in French (2001-2004):

Préverbes, particules et grammaticalisation: Évolution des systèmes aspectuels dans l’histoire du français.

Notre projet porte sur la grammaticalisation des prépositions dans l’histoire du français. L’ancien français dispose de deux systèmes pour modifier la valeur aspectuelle d’un verbe: le système des préfixes et celui des particules (arrière, avant, sus, aval, etc.). Notre projet entend fournir une description exhaustive de ces deux systèmes dans une perspective synchronique et diachronique.

Søren Wichmann

Søren Wichmann was awarded a research grant providing full salary for the period March 1, 2002 —February 29th, 2004 from the Carlsberg Foundation in support of the project “The Comparative Phonology of the Mayan Languages in the Light of Recent Epigraphic Research” (ANS-0121/20). Congratulations!


Stephen Morey’s thesis submission

Stephen Morey’s thesis ‘The Tai languages of Assam—a Grammar and Texts’ (Monash University, Melbourne) has been examined and accepted with minor alterations (correction of typographical errors). This thesis is in the form of a printed book and a CD. The CD includes not only the word document of the thesis, but also links to sound files for the language examples (over 500), and links to the texts in the Tai languages from which the language examples have come.

Stephen has also been offered a postdoctoral fellowship at the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology, LaTrobe University, Melbourne, which he will take up in mid 2003.


Pacific And Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures
John Bowden

This new project for archiving audiovisual materials on endangered cultures of the Pacific region is a joint initiative between the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney. It was recently successful in securing an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage - Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grant to set up the archive. The need for an archive has become more and more pressing in recent times: old recordings deteriorate, and materials originally recorded with now obsolescent equipment are getting harder and harder to even play back. Even cassette tapes that were first recorded in the 1970’s have mostly now reached then end of their useful life—and how many newsletter readers are able to listen to the old wire and wax recordings that are sometimes still lying around? The archive will be a boon for linguistic research in the future, with potential uses for comparative linguistics and also research into processes of language change. A web site for the project, which will include all of the metadata descriptions of archived materials will be based at the A.N.U. Enquiries from people at the A.N.U. who are interested in the new archive can be directed to John Bowden (

CRLC New Members:

The following is a list of newly appointed Members and Affiliates to the CRLC during 2002. For a complete list of the current CRLC Members click here.

Professor Michael A. Arbib, (profile) University of Southern California Brain Project (Director)
e-mail: (associate member)

Professor Peter Austin, Foundation Chair in Linguistics, University of Melbourne
(associate member)

Assoc. Prof. Nick Evans, Assocate Professor and Reader, Department of Linguistics & Applied Linguistics, University of Melbourne
(associate member)

Dr. Anthony Paul Grant, West Yorkshire, England
(associate member)
[click here for the abstract of his recent paper presented at University of Manchester, Nov. 2002]

Ms. Susan Love, PhD Student, Linguistics Department, RSPAS, ANU
e-mail: (full member)

Dr. Daniel Martín, Lecturer Spanish, School of Language Studies and International Education, University of Canberra
e-mail: (associate member)

Ms. Luisa Miceli, Visiting Fellow, School of Language Studies, ANU; PhD Stduent, Dept. of Linguistics, University of Western Australia
e-mail: (full member)

Mr. Stephen Morey, (PhD Student), Monash University, Melbourne
e-mail: (associate member)

Professor Gunter Senft, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen
e-mail: (associate member)

Mr. Ross Slater, PhD Student, School of Language Studies, ANU
e-mail: (full member)

Assoc. Professor Søren Wichmann, Dept. of General and Applied Linguistics, University of Copenhagen
e-mail: (associate member)

Dr Catharina Williams-van Klinken, Language Director, Peace Corps, Dili, East Timor; Honorary Fellow Department of Linguistics, University of Melbourne
e-mail: (associate member)

Dr Debra Ziegeler,School of English and Linguistics, University of Manchester
e-mail: (associate member)

Dr Ghil'ad Zuckermann, Gulbenkian Research Fellow, Churchill College; Research Fellow Dept. of Linguistics, University of Cambridge
e-mail: (associate member)


Language Change—linking the past with the present
Patrick McConvell

William Labov many years ago announced a research program that united historical linguistics and the study of language change-in-progress, and at the same time brought together the study of the social factors in change and the linguistic detail. Since then the study of change-in-progress has come to be a significant part of sociolinguistics, through Labov’s legacy in variationism, but also through studies of bilingualism, language contact and language shift. Its impact on comparative historical linguistics has not been as great as might have been expected however. Perhaps most of those concerned with reconstruction generally felt that the model of instantaneous change among monolinguals worked well enough at the scale they were concerned with—they were not overly concerned with either the detail of spread of innovation or the role of language contact. The work of Thomason and Kaufman has been a watershed in bringing the issues of language contact, mixed languages and pidginisation/creolisation forcefully to the attention of historical linguistics. Malcolm Ross of the CRLC has been a leading figure in working out how the classic comparative method might need to be modified in the light of contact phenomena, and wrestling with knotty cases of apparent mixed languages at the Austronesian-Papuan interface.

At the same time however there is a large and growing literature on code-switching based on large corpora of natural conversation. These studies are tending to show that combinations of two languages by bilinguals are strongly constrained, and this finding casts doubt on influential ‘unconstrained’ models of diffusion. Where grammatical structures of the two languages are not congruent, ‘compromise strategies’ emerge to fill the gaps, which are different from either source language, and unmarked mixed speech and mixed languages can result. These studies of contemporary code-switching are of great importance to understanding how contact-influenced change might have happened in the past.

Here at ANU, Evershed Amuzu is writing his Ph.D thesis on code-mixing between English and Ewe in Ghana, and emergent speech varieties. My own work on adult Gurindji code-switching and an emergent children’s language based on it helps us to understand language shift and maintenance of Australian Indigenous endangered languages today, but also, because the patterns are systematically different from those of code-mixing and change with structurally different languages, enables us to construct hypotheses about what the outcomes of different language combinations are likely to be.

Now a team of us are broadening this study to a number of Central Australian languages and communities where the younger generation’s language seems to be changing fast and radically (see announcement). This brings us into touch with another community of scholars whose work is relevant to historical study—those who study language acquisition. Most research in this area is based on middle-class first-world monolingual situations, and even those who study bilingual acquisition tend to do it in similar situations and assume that the outcome will be that the children will by and large end up speaking the two languages in the same way as the parents. Situations where the outcome may be a language or languages very different from the previous generation are not studied, and yet they are not rare, certainly not in Australia, and I would guess more generally not in the Asia-Pacific region. Sometimes they are lumped under ‘language shift’ since it is assumed that rapid change has shift as its outcome; but even if this is so, as in many cases, the resulting language may be significantly different from the original source language. Analysis of these differences is also important to the comparative linguist concerned with ‘substratum’ effects. In 2001, I organised a workshop involving CRLC members on these issues at the ALS conference and the list was set up to continue discussion.

It is commendable that language acquisition theorists are now paying attention to the results of diachronic study of change in well documented languages like English, such as Kroch’s influential work. But there is also a wealth of data in the study of change-in-progress and contemporary acquisition-with-change that can feed back into historical and comparative linguistics. The CRLC is located in the Australia-Pacific region which is currently a huge laboratory of rapid language change in progress. The communities and nations in this region need to know how these processes work so that they can plan for education and, hopefully, minority language maintenance. The lessons of what has occurred in language change in the past will help to form notions about what is occurring now. But the other side of this two-way exchange is that study of change-in-progress and language-contact-in-progress will provide new foundations for an enhanced historical comparative linguistics, and CRLC is in an ideal position to be the broker in this exchange.


Profile: Malcolm Ross: A study leave devoted to historical linguistics

This year I was able to take six months study leave devoted entirely to historical linguistics. The research theme which characterised my study leave was the study of what happens to grammatical constructions over time. By this, I don't mean simply ‘historical syntax’. I understand grammar as a hierarchy of constructions in a somewhat similar way to the Berkeley Construction Grammar of Charles Fillmore and Paul Kay and to the Radical Construction Grammar of Bill Croft. In this understanding, a construction is a pairing of form and meaning. What interest me are the conditions under which constructions either change or remain stable. One circumstance in which constructions change is language contact: the way meanings are structured in one of the speakers’ languages is reorganised on the basis of their other language, and this in turn leads to change in the forms of constructions in the language undergoing reorganisation (I have dubbed this kind of change ‘metatypy’). In the Austronesian languages of Oceania, on the other hand, the organisation of meanings has tended to remain relatively unchanged over 3500 years, even where there have been some changes in form. I am investigating the conditions for change and for stability. I don’t believe that all constructional histories can be divided into these two categories: they are just useful starting points for an investigation. I talked on this topic in a number of places during my study leave. The talk metamorphosed into a Powerpoint presentation as I went along, but an early version can be found as a Postscript file at

The first stop on my journey was in Kobe, Japan, in early April, where John Charles Smith of St Catherine’s College, Oxford, had organised a symposium on historical linguistics whose participants also included Suzanne Romaine, Martin Maiden and Bjarke Frellesvig from Oxford, Ian Roberts from Cambridge, Bill Croft from Manchester, April McMahon from Sheffield, Henning Andersen from UCLA, Marianne Mithun from Santa Barbara, William Labov from Pennsylvania, Susan Herring from Indiana, Matt Shibatani (Kobe/Rice) and my (in these circumtances) neighbour Lyle Campbell from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. This was an amazingly stimulating gathering and a wonderful way to begin study leave.

From Kobe I flew to Europe, and gave talks in Oxford, Manchester, Nijmegen, Paris, Kiel, Konstanz and Leipzig. Most of the months of June to September were spent as a Guest Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, where the Linguistics department majors on two themes, typology and historical linguistics. I found this a superb environment to work in, on several counts. First, I had peace to do what I wanted. Second, the academic staff of the department — Bernard Comrie, Martin Haspelmath, Susanne Michaelis, David Gil, Orin Gensler, Don Stilo, Helma van den Berg — provided a delightful social and intellectual environment. Third, there were more visitors than I could have imagined, with, sometimes, three excellent talks in a single week. Fourth, I was able to talk and learn about the interface of language and genetics in the Pacific basin with Manfred Kayser and Mark Stoneking of the MPI’s Genetics department. Fifth, I collected case studies of contact-induced constructional change that I would never have come across in Canberra. And the enumeration could go on ...

In the middle of July, I spent two enjoyable but strenuous weeks at the National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei teaching Austronesian typology and historical linguistics at the Summer Camp of the Linguistic Society of Taiwan. To my great pleasure, interest among Taiwanese linguists in the Austronesian languages of Taiwan and in their history has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years, and it was a joy to make some small response to the ensuing demand for information.

My only regret is that the time was not longer and that I have come back loaded with partly written pieces but as yet no complete papers. But they will come.


ARCLING II: 2nd Conference on the Archaeology and Linguistics of Australia. October 2002

Report by Patrick McConvell, Organizer, 10th Dec. 2002.

(Note: participating CRLC members are marked in bold type)

The ARCLING II conference took place October 1-4 2002 at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, funded by a Wenner-Gren conference grant which covered the expenses of 8 overseas speakers, 5 from the USA, and 1 each from Canada, UK and Denmark. Another speaker, an Indigenous Alaskan linguist/ historian, Adeline Raboff, was funded by one of the host bodies, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).

The conference was attended by 65 people, mainly archaeologists and linguists with Australianist interests, ran smoothly and was a success. The program and links to the written papers provided, are available at attached to the website of the CRLC. It is planned to publish a selection of papers from the conference: editors will be Patrick McConvell and Peter Veth (archeologist) both of AIATSIS.

The conference theme was “Echoes of ancient footsteps: archaeological and linguistic evidence in Australian culture history” but as it turned out the conference had a strong flavour of international comparison, especially between North America and Australia, and the resulting volume will no doubt reflect that. Another strong theme in the conference is the importance of interdisciplinary work, and especially the ideas of a broad-based ‘diachronic anthropology’ or ‘historical anthropology’. Ehret’s paper drawing mostly on African data also provided a strong model of close interaction of archaeology and linguistics, centrally using the concept of ‘stratigraphy’ also a keystone of work by Australianists such as Evans, McConvell and Smith. Such interdisciplinary cooperation is also evident in the work on Austronesian and the Pacific at the Australian National University and in line with the thrust of the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

One of the conference aims was ‘to identify signatures of migration and language shift in prehistoric language spreads especially among hunter-gatherers’ in which task evidence from Australia, the ‘continent of hunter-gatherers’ plays a key role. A clutch of important papers at the conference by Hill, Bettinger and Ives focussed on expansion of the Athabaskan, Algonkian and Numic hunter-gatherers in North America and allowed for comparison between those groups and with patterns like Pama-Nyungan expansion in Australia. Another sub-theme affording comparison between North America and Australia was that of fauna (Kari, Alpher).

Most of these papers dealt with spreads in the interior of continents, and were complemented by papers about arid Australia, especially the Western Desert, drawing on different types of evidence including rock art and raising questions about chronologies (Veth & McDonald, Smith, Koch and Hercus). There were also papers about the complementary side of the Australian landscape, the seacoasts and islands, drawing on oceanographic evidence particularly about the Holocene transgression and evidence from biological anthropology and genetics (Evans, Miceli et al).

An area in which archaeologists and linguists typically have a common interest is tools and technology, and the conference aimed to clear the way for more productive cooperative work, in the traditional of the Austronesian Terminologies project discussed by Pawley. The clash between the emic approaches of linguists and the typically etic approaches of archaeologists was evident (Hercus & Cundy), and while a strong challenge to the classificatory practice of Australian archaeology was launched within archaeology (Hiscock) there was little impact of the linguistic and emic approaches. One case study (McConvell & Akerman) looked at a specific artefact, the spearthrower, yielding some probable scenarios of change but the interface was more between linguistics and material culture studies than archaeology.

Bulbeck gave a paper drawing on traditional physical anthropology, and Rob and April McMahon gave a thought-provoking summary of the relationships between concepts and methods in genetics and linguistics. In her address which opened the conference, April McMahon was critical of assumptions in standard historical linguistics and advocated a more rigorous statistical approach. While not many of the papers had taken this approach in linguistics, some (e.g. Black) did use numerical approaches and referred to the controversies over these in Australia.

ARCLING II: Second conference on the Archaeology and Linguistics of Australia, National Museum of Australia & Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Canberra, 1-4th October, 2002
Papers presented by CRLC members
(Note: abstracts available at: and some papers downloadable from )

  • Kim Akerman & Patrick McConvell “Wommera: Tracing the Technology and Terminology of the Spearthrower in Australia”
  • Barry Alpher “Towards a History of Aboriginal-Language Terms for Living Things in Northern Australia”
  • Barry Cundy & Luise Hercus “Thula and Types—Metonymy in Artifact Terms”
  • Nicholas Evans “East across a narrow sea: micro-colonization and synthetic prehistory in the Wellesley Islands, Northern Australia”
  • Harold Koch & Luise Hercus “Linguistic interaction between the Arandic and Karnic subgroups of Central Australia”
  • L. Miceli, D. Rayner, M. Rowland & M. Westaway “Archaeology, linguistics and genetics. An island case study from Central Queensland”
  • Andrew Pawley “The Austronesian Terminologies Project”
  • Mike Smith “Desert archaeology, linguistic stratigraphy and The spread of Wati languages”
  • Søren Wichmann “Advances in the correlation of language families and prehistoric farming: A possible solution to Bellwood’s dilemma” [paper]
  • Claire Bowern (speaker unable to attend) “Karnic as a genetic area”

Australian Linguistic Society Conference (ALS), Macquarie University, 12-14 July, 2002
Papers presented by CRLC members

  • Cynthia Allen “The Early English ‘his genetives’ and their Germanic setting” (paper read in absentia by Jennifer Hendriks)
  • Jennifer Hendriks “Agreement and animacy in ‘auxiliary pronoun possessives’ in Middle and Early Modern Dutch”
  • Harold Koch “Reconstructing inflectional classes from languages that lack them”
  • Patrick McConvell “Grammaticalisation of demonstratives as subordinate complementisers in Ngumpin-Yapa”

Symposium on Language in Time: Language Evolution and Language Change, University of Western Australia Language Science Group, Perth, 25-27th July, 2002
Papers presented by CRLC members

  • Patrick McConvell & Mary Laughren “Equilibrium punctured: the Comparative Method at work in Australia”
  • Luisa Miceli “The Comparative Method: just a procedure for arriving at family trees?”
9th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (9ICAL), A.N.U., 8-11th January, 2002
& the 5th International Conference of Oceanic Languages (COOL5), A.N.U., 14-16th January, 2002
Papers presented by CRLC members
There were numerous papers presented by CRLC members at the 9th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (9ICAL), organised by the Department of Linguistics, Research School for Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra (Jan. 8-11, 2002). Abstracts (except for Ritsuko's) can be read at
  • Michael Dunn, Angela Terrill & Ger Reesink, “The East Papuan languages: a preliminary typological appraisal.”
  • Bethwyn Evans, “Proto Oceanic *akin[i]: reconstructing a process of grammaticalisation.”
  • Ritsuko Kikusawa, “Did Proto Oceanians cultivate Cyrtosperma taro? Observations on the terms indicating taro plants in Oceanic languages.”
  • Andrew Pawley, “Proto Polynesian *-Cia.
  • Malcolm Ross, “The diachronic fate of Oceanic directional verbs.”
And the following paper was presented at the 5th International Conference Of Oceanic Languages (COOL5) [abstracts], organised by the Department of Linguistics, Research School for Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra (Jan. 14-16, 2002):
  • Ritsuko Kikusawa & Wayan I Arka, “The development of Proto Austronesian genitive clitic pronouns.”

Other Individual Conference Participation and Guest Lectures during 2002

Anthony Grant “On the problems inherent in substantiating a linguistic area: the case of the Western Micronesian Sprachbund”, Conference on Linguistic Areas, Convergence and Language Change, University of Manchester, UK, 22-23 November, 2002. [view the abstract]

Alice Harris gave two plenary addresses “Methods in Cross-Linguistic Research on Universals of Morphosyntactic Change” and “Words Inside Words” at the Linguistic Association of Finland’s symposium Approaches to Historical Syntax (September, 2002)

Pascale Jacq gave a paper in absentia (read by Paul Sidwell) entitled “Orientation origins: where do Jru' cardinal directions come from?” given at the12th Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society, Northern Illinois University, De Kalb (17th May 2002).

Harold Koch “Placenames of Indigenous origin in the ACT and south-eastern NSW”, paper presented at the Australian Placenames: an interdisciplinary colloquium, Australian National University, 5th December, 2002.

Søren Wichmann had a busy year round the world with many guest lectures and conference papers:

  • “Cambios sintácticos involucrando construcciones verbales complejas en popoluca de Texistepec” (VII Encuentro Internacional de Lingüística en el Noroeste in memoriam Kenneth L. Hale, Universidad de Sonora, Nov. 13-15, 2002)
  • “Syntactic change involving complex verbal constructions in Texistepec Popoluca” (Approaches to Historical Syntax, University of Joensuu Mekrijäärvi Research Station, September 19-22, 2002)
  • “The correlation of language families and prehistoric farming” (Guest lecture, Northern Illinois University, April 2, 2002)
  • “Et redskab til korrelationen mellem sprogfamilier og forhistorisk landbrug” (Indoeurpæere-sproget og forhistorien, A Cross-disciplinary symposium, University of Copenhagen, March 7-9, 2002)
  • “Algunos comentarios sobre el propuesto origen mesoamericano de las lenguas yutoaztecos” (XXVII Simposio de Historia y Antropología de Sonora, Universidad de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, Feb. 27-March 2, 2002)
  • “La importancia de estudios etimológicos para la reconstrucción de la prehistoria: algunos ejemplos mesoamericanos” (Guest lecture, Departamento de Historia y Antropología, Universidad de Sonora, Mexico, Feb. 15, 2002)

Paul Sidwell also gave various papers, courses and guest lectures in between 3 field trips to Southeast Asia:

  • “Nasal Epenthesis and Consequences for Reconstruction in Mon-Khmer” (35th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Linguistics, Arizona State University, Nov. 2002)
  • “Language contact in ancient Champa—reconstructing the birth of a nation” (seminar for the Department of Linguistics, Cornell University, USA, 12th November, 2002)
  • “Reconciling the Mon-Khmer substrate in Chamic with the history of neighboring languages” (12th Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society, Northern Illinois University, De Kalb, May 2002)

CRLC Seminar Series 2002

Series 2, 2002, November:
    Date Speaker Topic Abstracts
    6 Nov. Paul Sidwell
    (Linguistics, RSPAS, ANU)
    “Identifying the language(s) of the Mon-Khmer strata in Chamic” Abstract
    13 Nov. Phil Rose
    (School of Language Studies, Arts, ANU)
    Bayesian inference and historical linguistics Abstract
    20 Nov. Daniel Martín
    (School of Languages and International Education, University of Canberra)
    “The demographic dimension of Migrant Language Maintenance and Shift: Some conclusions based on the Australian case” Abstract
    27 Nov. Laura Daniliuc
    (PhD Student, School of Language Studies, Arts, ANU)

    “On Latin Deponent Verbs”


Series 1, 2002, March-May:

    Date Speaker Topic Abstracts
    27 March Michael Dunn
    (School of Language Studies, Arts)
    “Chukchi-Russian language contact in the mind of the bilingual” Abstract
    3 April Malcolm Ross
    (Dept. Linguistics, RSPAS)
    Constructions: continuity and contact Abstract
    10 April Andrew Pawley
    (Visiting Fellow, Linguistics, RSPAS)
    “On grammatical categories and grammaticisation in Oceanic languages: synchronic and diachronic perspectives” Abstract
    17 April Laura Daniliuc
    (PhD Student, School of Language Studies, Arts)

    “Auxiliary selection in diachrony: Case studies from the Romance languages”

    24 April Patrick McConvell (AIATSIS) & Kim Akerman
    (Museum of Tasmania)
    ‘“Wommera”: the spread of the multi-purpose spearthrower’ Abstract
    1 May Peter Hill (School of Language Studies, Arts) D§gan pipl: English is in, but Turkish is cool: Developments in Standard Macedonian in the Post-Independence Era” Abstract
    8 May
    Luisa Miceli
    (School of Language Studies)
    Australian Comparative Linguistics: rethinking the working assumptions

Forthcoming conferences, 2003

  • July 24-29, 2003: XVII International Congress of Linguists, Prague, Czech Republic including a session on comparative linguistics organised by Professor Lyle Campbell, Department of Linguistics, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand. e-mail:

    • Tony Diller and Thai colleague Dr Wilaiwan Khanittanan of Thammasat University, Bangkok, plan to attend the 17th International Congress of Linguists in Prague, to present a paper on early Thai-Khmer bilingualism and language contact.


Study of a Language Family: Australian

Harold Koch

In the second semester of 2002, Harold Koch and Patrick McConvell ran the Study of a Language Family (LING3008) course. This course aimed to give an overview of the history, data, methods, and results of the historical-comparative study of the indigenous languages of Australia, with a view to giving a reliable sketch of what can be known about the historical relations between these languages. The field of Australian historical linguistics has suffered from:

  • lack of reliable data on many languages,
  • a fairly small amount of energy devoted to historical-comparative study,
  • disagreement between scholars about the appropriate methodology to apply,
  • a lack of compilations of comparative data

with the consequence that the field does not appear to outsiders to offer a coherent picture of the historical situation or a very full description of any proto-language of significant time depth.

We attempted, by a combination of overviews of particular domains within the field and case studies, to give particpants a clear idea of the results already achieved, current issues, opportunities for future discovery, and especially what we consider to be sound methodology.

We supplied a Reading Brick of nearly 400 pages, including a number of newly published or still unpublished articles.

The course attracted only two enrolled undergraduate students, but was attended regularly by about a dozen auditors—graduate students and members of staff—associated with the CRLC.

Courses to be offered 2003, Program in Linguistics

In 2003 the ANU Program in Linguistics is offering a number of courses dealing with Historical Linguistics and Language Change:

Semester 1:

  • Language Change and Linguistic Reconstruction (LING2005/6005), Lecturer: Harold Koch

Semester 2:

  • Study of a Language Family: Mon-Khmer (LING3008/6508), Lecturer: Paul Sidwell
  • Structure of English (LING1/2/6020), Lecturer: Cynthia Allen (which has a small section on the development of the English language)
6th Australian Linguistics Institute, Macquarie University, 8-18th July 2002
Courses taught by CRLC members:
  • Harold Koch & Patrick McConvell “Comparative Australian Linguistics”
  • Paul Sidwell “Comparative reconstruction and language change, a practical introduction ”

Plenary panel: Theory, history, models: tools to reconstruct the past:

  • Harold Koch “Thinking outside the square: beyond common sense in linguistic reconstruction”
  • Patrick McConvell “Migration, language shift and linguistic diffusion: linguistic and other evidence to distinguish scenarios in prehistory”
  • Paul Sidwell “Reconstruction and the field linguist”

(Note: CRLC members’ names are marked in bold type)

Alpher, Barry. 2002. ‘Can Lexicostatistics Contribute an Absolute Time-Scale to Discussions of Continuity of Occupation in Native Title Determinations?’ In: Language in Native Title. Edited by John Henderson & David Nash, pp.259-290. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.

Bowden, John. 2002. ‘The impact of Malay on Taba: a type of incipient language death or the incipient death of a language type?’ In David and Maya Bradley, eds. Language endangerment and language maintenance, pp.114-143. London: Curzon Press.

Campbell, Lyle C. & Alice C. Harris. 2002. ‘Syntactic Reconstruction and Demythologizing Myths and the Prehistory of Grammars”’ Journal of Linguistics, 38.3:599-618.

Diller, A. 2001a. ‘Grammaticalization and Thai Syntactic Change.’ In: Essays in Tai Linguistics. Edited by M.R. Kalaya Tingsabadh and Arthur S. Abramson, pp.139-175. Chulalongkorn University Press.

Diller, A. 2001b. ‘Thai Grammar and Grammaticality.’ In: Indigenous Grammars Across Cultures. Edited by Hannes Kniffka, pp.219-244, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Grant, Anthony. 2002 ‘El chabacanoi zamboangueño, lengua criolla mezclada’, PAPIIA 12 (2): 7-40.

Harris, Alice C. 2002. Endoclitics and the Origins of Udi Morphosyntas. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.xvi,299.

Harris, Alice C. 2002. ‘On the Origins of Circumfixes in Kartvelian.’ In: Philologie, Typologie und Sprachstruktur: Festschrift für Winfried Boeder zum 65.Geburtstag. Edited by Wolfram Bublitz, Manfred von Roncador, and Heinz Vater, pp305-322. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Henderson, John and David Nash. (eds.) 2002. Language in Native Title. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.

Lacadena, Alfonso & Søren Wichmann. 2002. ‘The distribution of Lowland Maya languages in the Classic period’ In: La organización social entre los mayas. Memoria de la Tercera Mesa Redonda de Palenque, Vol. II, red. V. Tiesler, R. Cobos and M. Green Robertson, pp.275-314. México D.F.: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, y Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán.

Lynch, John, Malcolm Ross & Terry Crowley. 2002. The Oceanic Languages. London: Curzon Press.

McConvell, Patrick. 2002. ‘Linguistic Stratigraphy and Native Title: The Case of Ethnonyms’. In: Language in Native Title. Edited by John Henderson & David Nash, pp.259-290. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.

Nash, David. 2002. ‘Historical Linguistic Geography of South-East Western Australia’. In: Language in Native Title. Edited by John Henderson & David Nash, pp.205-230. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.

Sidwell, Paul & Vitaly Shevoroshkin. (eds.)2002. Anatolian Languages. Melbourne: Association for the History of Language.

Sidwell, Paul & Vitaly Shevoroshkin. (eds.)2002. Languages and their Speakers in Ancient Eurasia: Dedicated to Professor Aharon Dolgopolsky on his 70th birthday. Melbourne: Association for the History of Language.

Sidwell, Paul. 2002. ‘Classification of the Bahnaric Languages: a comprehensive review’ Mon-Khmer Studies, Vol.32:. Mahidol University, Thailand.

Wichmann, Søren. 2002. ‘Questioning the grid: a new distinction among the syllabic signs of the Maya hieroglyphic script?’ Mexicon, 24.5:98-106.

Wichmann, Søren. 2002. ‘Advances in the correlation of linguistic families and prehistoric farming areas: a possible solution ot Bellwood's dilemma’ Published at the web-site of the ARCLINGII conference:

Wichmann, Søren. 2002. ‘Hieroglyphic evidence for the historical configuration of Eastern Ch'olan’ Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing, 51. Washington, D.C.: Centre for Maya Research.

Wouk, Fay & Malcolm Ross. (eds). 2002. The Historical and typological development of western Austronesian voice systems. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.

CRLC Management Committee

Chair of Management Committee: Dr. Lawrence Warner, Australian Academy of the Humanities

Director: Dr. Cynthia Allen, FAHA, School of Language Studies, Faculty of Arts, ANU. e-mail:

Associate Directors:
  • Dr. Malcolm Ross, FAHA, Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, ANU
  • Assoc. Prof. Ann Kumar,FAHA, Centre for Asian History, Faculty of Asian Studies, ANU
Other Management Committee members:
  • Dr. Harold Koch, School of Language Studies, Faculty of Arts, ANU
  • Ms. Laura Daniliuc, School of Language Studies, Faculty of Arts, ANU (Graduate Student Representative)
  • Dr. Michael Smith, Director of Research, National Museum of Australia
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This newsletter edition was compiled by the Administrator, Pascale Jacq:,
and edited by Cynthia Allen and Harold Koch and other contributors whose names appear within the newsletter

This document was last modified: 20th December, 2002
Copyright © 2001 by the Centre for Research on Language Change, ANU