Graduate Research School For Candidates Prospective Candidates Available Projects Documenting a previously unknown language from Papua New Guinea

Documenting a previously unknown language from Papua New Guinea

Title of Project

Documenting a previously unknown language from Papua New Guinea

Name of Advisor/s

Distinguished Professor Alexandra Y Aikhenvald


College of Arts, Society & Education

Summary of Project

More than 700 languages are spoken on the island of Papua new Guinea. documenting, describing and analyzing them is an urgent matter for linguistics.

The project involves doing extensive fieldwork on a previously undescribed (or scarcely described) language from PNG and writing a comprehensive grammar of it for their dissertation. They are expected to work on a language which is still actively spoken, and to establish a field situation within a community in which it is the first language. Their first fieldtrip lasts for six to nine months. After completing a first draft of the grammar, back in Cairns, they undertake a second fieldtrip of two to three months. Fieldwork methodology centres on the collection, transcription and analysis of texts, together with participant observation, and at a later stage, judicious grammatical elicitation in the language under description (not through the lingua franca of the country). Our main priority areas are the Papuan and Austronesian languages of New Guinea and surrounding areas and the languages of tropical Amazonia. We place emphasis on work that has a sound empirical basis but also shows a firm theoretical orientation (in terms of general typological theory, or what has recently come to be called basic linguistic theory).

Key Words

Papuan languages, Austronesian languages, linguistics, language documentation, linguistic typology