Professor William Foley
AB Brown MA PhD UC Berkeley FAHA
+61 2 9351 4569
Room 217, Transient Building F12
Away until July 2013.
I have quite a wide range of interests. I have worked in syntactic theory from a lexicalist approach and the role of semantics in syntax and have published extensively on this topic (Functional Syntax and Universal Grammar, Cambridge, 1984). I am particularly interested in the usefulness of modern syntactic theories in the insightful description of the Austronesian and Papuan languages of the Pacific, which is my main area of specialization. This focus is evident in publications like The Papuan Languages of New Guinea (Cambridge, 1986) and The Yimas Language of New Guinea (Stanford, 1991). Over the last 20 years I have conducted extensive periods of fieldwork in Pacific area languages, specifically in the Papuan languages of the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea, such as Yimas, Watam and Mambuwan, as well as some Austronesian languages like Palauan, Fijian and Tagalog. This fieldwork is the discipline which guides my continuing development of syntactic theories, so that for me theory and description constantly reinforce each other synergistically.
My other main area of interest, again one forged ultimately out of my interest in fieldwork, is anthropological linguistics, reflected in my most recent major publication, Anthropological Linguistics: An Introduction (Blackwell, 1997). I am strongly committed to the view of linguistics as ultimately a branch of anthropology and believe that language can only really be adequately understood when it is conceived as both a psychological and a social skill. Within the very wide field of anthropological linguistics, I am specifically concerned with the Boasian/Humboldtian question of the relationship between
language and thought and recent empirical approaches to investigate this and also ethnopoetics, the specific linguist practices cultures use to create various verbal genres like narratives, proverbs, songs, poetry, etc and the aesthetic value and social role speakers ascribe to these.
Fellowships, grants and awards
- German Government Research Grant, with Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 2004-05, ~EUR 20,000, joint CI
- French Government Research Grant with Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, 2002-2003 EUR 20,000, joint CI
- ARC Grant 2002-04 $110,000 Papuan Descriptive Linguistics of the West Sepik Region, sole CI
- Syntactic theory from a lexicalist approach
- The role of semantics in syntax
- The usefulness of modern syntactic theories in the insightful description of the Austronesian and Papuan languages of the Pacific
- Fieldwork in Pacific area languages, specifically in the Papuan languages of the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea, such as Yimas, Watam and Mambuwan, as well as some Austronesian languages like Palauan, Fijian and Tagalog.
- Anthropological linguistics
- The Boasian/Humboldtian question of the relationship between language and thought and recent empirical approaches to investigate this
- Ethnopoetics, the specific linguist practices cultures use to create various verbal genres like narratives, proverbs, songs, poetry, etc and the aesthetic value and social role speakers ascribe to these.
- Foley, W A 2005, Semantic parameters and the unaccusative split in the Austronesian language family, Studies in Language, 29(2), 385-430
- Foley, W A 2006, Universal constraints and local conditions in Pidginization, Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, 21(1), 1-44
- Foley, W A 2010, Events and serial verb constructions, Complex Predicates: Cross-Linguistic Perspectives on Event Structure, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1, 79-109
- Foley, W A 2010, Language contact in the New Guinea region, The Handbook of Language Contact, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, West Sussex, 1, 795-813
- Foley, W A 2008, The notion of 'event' and serial verb constructions: arguments from New Guinea, SEALS XIV: Papers from the 14th Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society 2004, Pacific Linguistics Publishers, Canberra, 1, 129-155
- Foley, W A 2008, The place of Philippine languages in a typology of voice systems, Voice and Grammatical Relations in Austronesian Languages, CSLI Publications, Stanford, 22-44
- Foley, W A 2007, A Typology of Information Packaging in the Clause, Language Typology and Syntactic Description, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, 1, 362-446
- Foley, W A 2005, Do Humans Have Innate Mental Structures? Some Arguments from Linguistics, Complexities: Beyond Nature & Nurture, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 43-63
- Foley, W A 2005, Linguistic prehistory in the Sepik-Ramu basin, Papuan Pasts: Cultural, Lingustic and Biological Histories of Papuan-Speaking Peoples, Pacific Linguistics Publishers, Canberra, 109-144
- Foley, W A 2007, Reason, understanding and the limits of translation, Meaning and Translation in Language Documentation, Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project, London UK, 4, 100-119
- Foley, W A 2005, Personhood and language identity, purism and variation, Language contact and Variation in Language documentation, Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project, London, 3, 157-180