Research

At the moment I’m mostly working on language contact and reconstruction in Pama-Nyungan “border” areas – Nyulnyulan/Marrngu, Yolŋu/Burrarran, and Western Torres Strait/Eastern Trans-Fly. I’ve done fieldwork in the first two areas mentioned and am working on (synchronic) descriptive and learner’s materials of Bardi and Yan-nhaŋu. I am also interesting in computational phylogenetics and broader questions about language evolution. I maintain the Chirila database of Australian languages, and much of my research is based on it.

In 2007, I was awarded a grant from the NSF/NEH’s Documenting Endangered Languages Program to work on Bardi texts from the 1920’s. In the same round, I was awarded an NSF CAREER grant to work on Pama-Nyungan and Australian prehistory. More details are available at pamanyungan.sites.yale.edu. I’m interested in pretty much anything that comes under the topic of historical linguistics, prehistory and Australian languages. I am interested in methodological and modelling questions of language history and reconstruction, particularly as a consequence of the apparent ‘problems’ that Australian languages pose for traditional views of language change. I’ve been a critic of Punctuated Equilibrium as applied to Australia for some time, and some of my arguments against using such a model can be found in this paper (Another look at Australia as a linguistic area, published in Linguistic Areas, ed Matras, McMahon and Vincent, 2006). My current research follows from this.

Papers of mine can be found on this site under the publications link.

I moderate the HISTLING-L mailing list. If you’d like to join the list, go to this page and fill out the form.

Other information:

My Lab page has more details about current projects.

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