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Prof. Dr. Patrick McConvell

Prof. Patrick McConvell held the Dr. R. Marika Visiting Chair of Australian Studies in the summer 2012.

Dr Patrick McConvell worked on Australian Indigenous languages for many years, especially in the west of the Northern Territory, and the Kimberleys and Pilbara of Western Australia. Apart from grammar and dictionary work, he is interested in the maintenance of languages, and in the shift to Kriol, code-switching and mixing of languages. He has been involved with the setting up of the Kimberley Language Resource Centre; working in bilingual schools; and training of Indigenous language workers at Batchelor.

His research projects include

  • Gurindji Grammar and Dictionary compilation
  • The Aboriginal Children’s Language Acquisition ARC project with Sydney and Melbourne Universities – investigating how children are currently learning languages in four Central Australian communities.
  • The DoBeS (Documentation of Endangered Languages) Project on languages and cultures of the Victoria River District, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation
  • Linguistic prehistory of Australia and investigating the past with the aid of linguistic evidence.
  • Developing AUSTLANG, the web Indigenous Languages database with Kazuko Obata


Selected Publications

2013. 'Granny got cross: semantic change of kami 'mother's mother' to 'father's mother' in Pama-Nyungan', in Robert Mailhammer (ed.), Lexical and Structural Etymology, Walter de Gruyter, Germany, pp. 147-184.

with Ponsonnet, M. 2013. 'Results and Prospects in the Study of Semantic Change: A Review of From Polysemy to Semantic Change (2008)', Journal of Language Contact, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 180-196.

With  Gardner, H. 2013. 'The descent of Morgan in Australia: Kinship Representation from the Australian Colonies', Structure and Dynamics: eJournal of Anthropological and Related Sciences, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 1-23.

2012. 'Omaha Skewing in Australia: Overlays, Dynamism, and Change', in Thomas R Trautmann and Peter M Whiteley (ed.), Crow-Omaha: New Light on a Classic Problem of Kinship Analysis, University of Arizona Press, United States, pp. 243-260.

with Dousset, L. 2012. 'Tracking the dynamics of kinship and social category terms with AustKin II', Joint Workshop of LINGVIS & UNCLH for Computational Linguistics (EACL 2012), Curran Associates, Inc., Stroudsburg, United States, pp. 98-107.

With  Simpson, J. 2012. 'Fictive Motion Down Under: The Locative-Allative Case Alternation in Some Australian Indigenous Languages', in Diana Santos, Krister Lindén and Wanjiku Ng'ang'a (ed.), Shall We Play the Festschrift Game?: Essays on the Occasion of Lauri Carlson's 60th Birthday, Springer, Berlin, Germany, pp. 159-180.

with Bowern, C. 2011. 'The Prehistory and Internal Relationships of Australian Languages', Language and Linguistics Compass, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 19-32.

with Keen, I. 2011. 'The transition from Kariera to an Asymmetrical System: Cape York Peninsula to North-East Arnhemland', in Doug Jones and Bojka Milicic (ed.), Kinship, Language, and Prehistory: Per Hage and the Renaissance in Kinship Studies, University of Utah Press, United States, pp. 99-132.

2010. 'Getting the constraints right', Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 33, no. 5, pp. 394-395.

with Hill, C. 2010. 'Emergency language documentation teams: the Cape York Peninsula experience', in John Hobson, Kevin Lowe, Susan Poetsch and Michael Walsh (ed.), Re-Awakening Languages: Theory and practice in the revitalisation of Australia's Indigenous languages, Sydney University Press, Sydney, pp. 418-432.

with Simpson, J. and Caffery, J. 2010. 'Maintaining Languages, Maintaining Identities: What Bilingual Education Offers', in Brett Baker, Ilana Mushin, Mark Harvey and Rod Gardner (ed.), Indigenous Language and Social Identity: papers in honour of Michael Walsh, Pacific Linguistics, Canberra, ACT, pp. 409-428.

2010. 'Mood swings: imperative verbs attract pronominal enclitics in Ngumpin-Yapa (Australian) and Southern European languages', in Rachel Hendery and Jennifer Hendriks (ed.), Grammatical Change: theory and description, Pacific Linguistics, Canberra, pp. 123-156.

2010. 'Contact and Indigenous Languages in Australia', in Raymond Hickey (ed.), The Handbook of Language Contact, Wiley-Blackwell, USA, pp. 770-794.

With  Simpson, J. and Caffery, J. 2009. Gaps in Australia's indigenous language policy: dismantling bilingual education in the Northern Territory, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies AIATSIS), Canberra.

 2009. ''Where the spear sticks up': The variety of locatives in placenames in the Victoria River District, Northern Territory', in Harold Koch and Luise Hercus (ed.), Aboriginal Placenames: Naming and Re-Naming the Australian Landscape, ANU ePress, Canberra Australia, pp. 359-402.

2009. 'Loanwords in Gurindji, a Pama-Nyungan language of Australia', in Martin Haspelmath and Uri Tadmor (ed.), Loanwords in the World's Languages: A Comparative Handbook, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, Germany, pp. 790-822.

2008. 'Language mixing and language shift in Indigenous Australia', in J. Simpson and G. Wigglesworth (ed.), Children's Language and Multilingualism: Indigenous Language Use at Home and School, Continuum Publishing Company, London, pp. 237-260.

2008. 'Grand-daddy morphs: the importance of suffixes in reconstructing Pama-Nyungan kinship', in Claire Bowern, Bethwyn Evans & Luisa Miceli (ed.), Morphology and Language History: In honour of Harold Koch, John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, pp. 313-327.

2008. 'Mixed Languages as Outcomes of Code-Switching: Recent Examples from Australia and their Implications', Journal of language contact, vol. Thema 2, pp. 187-212.

with Thieberger, N. 2006. 'Keeping Track of Indigenous Language Endangerment in Australia', in Denis Cunningham, D.E. Ingram and Kenneth Sumbuk (ed.), Language Diversity in the Pacific: Endangerment and Survival, Multilingual Matters Ltd, UK, pp. 54-84.

with  Meakins, F. 2005. 'Gurindji Kriol: A Mixed Language Emerges from Code-switching', Australian Journal of Linguistics, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 9-30.

2005.'Language contact interaction and possessive variation', Monash University Linguistics Papers, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 87-105.