Language is what makes us human – it’s more than just a system of communication.


The study of linguistics helps us to become more aware of our use of language. It assists greatly in the learning and teaching of languages. It is particularly vital for teaching and recording Indigenous languages to ensure their survival for future generations.

  • Our teaching

    The Department of Linguistics offers courses in the core areas of phonology, morphology and syntax and semantics to develop the skills needed for language documentation and analysis. These are complemented by sociolinguistic courses which examine language in society, communication and miscommunication.  We have a particular focus on Indigenous languages and language revival.

    Our department is involved with the Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi (KWP) and Mobile Language Team (MLT).

     Study Linguistics 


  • Our people

    Teaching staff

    Name Role
    Associate Professor Benjamin McCann Head of Department of European Languages and Linguistics

    Tutors/Visiting Lecturers

    Name Role
    Dr Ian Green Tutoring and lecturing in 2024
    Mrs Susie Greenwood Tutoring and lecturing in 2024
    Mr Corey Theatre Tutoring and lecturing in 2024
    Mr Kieran Smith Tutoring in 2024
    Ms Carli Lewis Tutoring in 2024

    Affiliates/research associates

    Name Role

    Professor Emeritus Peter Mühlhäusler

    Norf’k (Norfolk Island Language Project)
    Associate Prof. Robert Amery Visiting Research Fellow
    Dr Mary-Anne Gale ARC Research Associate
    Dr Ian Green Daly River Languages; Postgrad Supervision
    Dr Mark Clendon The Western Desert/Pilbara supervisor
    Dr Peter Mickan Barossa Deutsch
    Dr Petter Naessan Yankunytjatjara Projects
    Ms Susie Greenwood ARC Research Assistant: Towards Sustainable Language Revival

    Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi staff

    Name Role
    Associate Prof. Robert Amery Manager
    Katrina Karlapina Power Media Production
    Taylor Tipu Power-Smith Media Production
    Jaylon Newchurch Media Production
    Kieran Smith Project Officer
    Tempest Summer-Lovett Media Production
    Chester Schulz Placenames Researcher

    Mobile Language Team 

    Name Role
    Dr Paul Monaghan Manager; Senior Linguist
    Karina Lester Aboriginal Co-Manager; Language Worker
    Celeste Humphris Consultant Linguist
    Eleanor McCall Linguist
    Emeritus Professor Mühlhäusler Senior Linguist
    Henrietta Byrne Language, Health & Wellbeing Officer
  • Our research

    From a language survey of Pulau Simeulue and Pulau Banyak, to other projects looking at remaining knowledge of German language and culture in the Barossa Valley, our research is varied and much of it based in the field.


Our current projects

  • Aceh, Indonesia: A language survey of Pulau Simeulue and Pulau Banyak

    Chief Investigators: Associate Prof. Rob Amery and Dr Zulfadli Aziz (Syiah Kuala University)
    SSP project, July to December 2016
    Funded by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL)

    Aceh Islands Language Survey

  • Adnyamathanha Language Project

    Promote the active speaking of Adnyamathanha (contemporary Indigenous Australian people from the Flinders Ranges, South Australia)

    Chief Investigators: Clayton Cruise with assistance from Prof. Peter Mühlhäusler
    Commenced Jan. 2016
    Funding: Indigenous Languages and the Arts (ILA) and First Languages Australia

  • Barossa Deutsch

    Chief Investigator: Dr Peter Mickan
    Research Assistant/PhD Candidate: Kateryna Katsmann

    This project looks at remaining knowledge of German language and culture in the Barossa Valley and ways to promote and support the use of the language. See Monatsblatt produced by the German Language Association Inc. (Deutscher Sprachverein). Read more.

  • Communication in Mental Health

    Driving health care efficiencies and patient care outcomes by improving communication across acute and primary transitions of care. The focus in South Australia is on communication in transition of mental health patients from acute to primary settings.

    ARC Linkage Project” LP140100563
    Investigators: Dr John Walsh and Prof. Jon Jureidini
    Research Officer: Dr Nayia Cominos

    Partner Organisations: Medicare Local, Central and Hills & Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN)

  • Kaurna Dictionary Project

    An AIATSIS Dictionaries Project for the Kaurna Language with additional ILA funding.

    • Chief Investigator: Associate Prof. Rob Amery
    • Research Assistant: Susie Greenwood

    'Kaurna Warrapiipa - Kaurna Dictionary' published by Wakefield Press 

  • Kaurna Language Project: in collaboration with the Kaurna community

    Associate Prof. Rob Amery has been working in collaboration with members of the Kaurna community to reclaim and re-introduce the Kaurna language since 1989. Amery’s PhD (1995-1998) is published.

    Research is currently focussed on lexicography and toponyms and production of Kaurna language resources (see Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi).

  • Literacy: An analysis of the linguistic trajectory

    An analysis of the linguistic trajectory of the development of writing in one child based on the complete portfolio of writing of a child from her 12 years of schooling.

    Chief Investigators: Dr John Walsh and Dr Bill Winser
    MPhil Candidate: Ms Evita Ratcliffe

  • Language of Sport

    An SFL analysis of the range of communications common in the contexts of elite professional sport. The specific focus in on the language of evaluation as expressed in the SFL system of Appraisal.

    To be published by Routledge in 2020 as 'A Linguistic Perspective on the Language of Sport'
    - Dr John Walsh, Dr David Caldwell & Prof Jon Jureidini

  • Ngarrindjeri Language Project

    Analysis of Ngarrindjeri texts of the Lower Murray, lakes & Coorong region, as recorded in the book 'A World That Was' by Ronald & Catherine Berndt.

    ARC Project: DP150103287

    • Chief Investigators: Associate Prof. Rob Amery & Prof. Jane Simpson (ANU)
    • Research Associate: Dr Mary-Anne Gale
  • Norf'k Language Project

    Long-term ongoing project commenced in 1989
    The Nolfolk Island language is a unique case of language genesis and language development leading to a sustained language revival movement. The project has worked towards the recognition of the Norf’k language and development of ongoing support systems.

    • Chief Investigator: Emeritus Prof. Peter Mühlhäusler
    • The project has been supported by several ARC grants over the years.
  • Pidgin German: Investigation of colonial varieties of German

    This is a long-term ongoing project based on unique recordings made in PNG in 1974.
    Commenced working with international partners: 2004
    Chief Investigator: Emeritus Prof. Peter Mühlhäusler

    Supported by the Institut für Deutsche Sprache and the University of Augsburg.

  • Psychiatric Case Formulation

    Psychiatrists are faced with the challenge of articulating ‘Why this patient presents in this way at this time’. This is a key skill for psychiatrists. The project aimed to articulate how formulation is achieved linguistically.
    Investigators: Dr John Walsh and Prof. Jon Jureidini
    - Book chapter in 'Effective Communication in Clinical Handover: from Research to Practice' published by de Gruyter in 2016

  • Sustainable Language Revival

    Towards Sustainable Language Revival: A critical analysis of Kaurna (2019-2021)

    ARC Project: DP190102413
    Chief Investigators: Associate Prof. Rob Amery
    Research Associate: Dr Mary-Anne Gale
    Research Assistant: Ms Susie Greenwood

Mobile Language Team

The Mobile Language Team (MLT) was established in 2009 to support work in Aboriginal languages throughout South Australia.

Visit Mobile Language Team

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