People & Projects


Prof Alexandra Aikhenvald


Building D3, Cairns Campus

Telephone: +61 (07) 4232 1117

James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia

Alexandra (Sasha) Aikhenvald CV

Prof R.M.W (Bob) Dixon

Deputy Director

Building D3, Cairns Campus

Telephone: +61 (07) 4232 1461

James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia

(Access Dyirbal Song Poetry, Traditional songs of an Australian Rainforest People here)

See more LCRC profiles here: Language and Culture Research Centre People



Evidentiality is a grammatical category with source of information as its primary meaning—whether the speaker saw the event happen, did not see it but heard it, made an inference based on general knowledge or visual traces, or was told about it.

Read more about our Evidentiality project here.


The Murui oral literature collection project

In June 2014, Kasia Wojtylak and Kristian Lupinski were awarded a Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research Fellowship for the documentation of oral literature among the Murui people in Colombian parts of the Amazon.

Read more about the Muri project here.


The language of well-being

Ways of talking about diseases, ailments, convalescence, and well-being vary from language to language. In some, an ailment 'hits' or 'gets' the person; in others, the sufferer 'catches' an ailment, comes to be a 'container' for it, or is presented as a 'fighter' or a 'battleground'. In languages with obligatory expression of information source, the onslaught of disease is treated as 'unseen', just like any kind of internal feeling or shamanic activity.

Read more about the language of well-being project here.


'The integration of language and society’, funding scheme: Discovery Projects (2017-2021), The Australian Research Council.

All human societies show pervasive similarities and all languages share recurrent features. Reaching beyond these, the project aims to study (a) substantial social and life-style differences, and (b) particular features of language structure, seeking associations between these. Viewing society and language as an integrated whole, the project team will focus on areas in PNG, Africa, East Asia, Amazonia and Australia, studying related groups in contrasting physical and social environments. Inductive generalisations concerning significant associations between societal and language parameters (eg varying techniques of address relating to articulated kin systems, and social hierarchy) aim to provide insight into the human dynamic.

Read more about the integration of language and society project here.


The Yalaku language documentation project

The Yalaku language is one of the least known indigenous languages of the East Sepik Province in PNG, a locus of extreme linguistic diversity. Yalaku is spoken by about a 1000 people in three villages – Yalaku, Kumajuwi and Hambakaini (or Hambuken) – in the Middle Sepik area. It is one of the smallest languages of the Ndu language family (whose larger members include Manambu, Iatmul, and Boiken). The current project focuses on documenting grammar, vocabulary, discourse patterns, and the history of the Yalaku people. Alexandra Aikhenvald (whose Yalaku name is Holengitakwa) is working in close collaboration with the speakers, especially Joel Ukaia, the village councillor.

Read more about the Yalaku project here.


A grammar of Tiang

Tiang is a previously undescribed Oceanic language spoken on Djaul Island in the north of New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea. The project, initiated by Christoph Holz in May 2018 as part of his PhD studies, is based on immersion fieldwork on Djaul Island. An initial field trip has been completed in August 2018, followed by a long-term stay between February and October 2019. More fieldwork is planned for 2021

Read more about the grammar of Tiang project here


The Doromu-Koki Language Documentation Project

The Doromu-Koki language is one of the smaller languages of Central Province, Papua New Guinea. It is a Papuan language in close proximity to the much larger Sinauḡoro Oceanic language. Doromu-Koki is spoken by about 2,000 people, half of whom are now residing outside of the language community area in the capital, Port Moresby.

Read more about the The Doromu-Koki Language Documentation Project here.


The Brokpa language documentation project

Brokpa is a Trans-Himalayan (Tibeto-Burman) language belonging to the Central Bodish (Tibetic) subgroup. Brokpa is spoken in Eastern Bhutan and in small parts of Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India. The current project focuses on documenting the history, culture and the language of the Brokpa people, culminating in a comprehensive grammar and a number of journal articles.

Read more about the Brokpa language documentation project here