Research in the Deptartment of Linguisitics

Today’s cutting-edge teaching and research in linguistics at The University of Sydney has a long and distinguished history, going back to pioneering field work in Australia and the Pacific some 70 years ago. In the Department of Linguistics, we offer expertise in research on languages of Australia and the Asia/Pacific region, language in media and education, varieties of English spoken worldwide, relations between language and culture, language and mind, language in social interaction, cross-cultural communication, and the analysis of language structure, from sounds to grammar to meaning to texts and context. We have strong connections to linguistic researchers throughout the University, in several language departments and education programs.

Areas of research expertise

Field-based research on indigenous languages of Australasia. Numerous department members are engaged in long-term field research on languages of Indigenous Australia, Southeast Asia, PNG, and the Pacific, documenting often little-known languages and their cultural contexts. Gwen Hyslop, Maïa Ponsonnet, James Martin, Sebastian Fedden, Nick Enfield, William Foley

Language and the Emotions. Our research on the linguistic expression of the emotions ranges from the study of the meanings of emotion words and grammatical resources in very different languages of the world to the range of strategies for emotional expression in texts, including conversation, written text and television drama Monika Bednarek, Maïa Ponsonnet, Nick Enfield, James Martin

Language and Mind. Our research on the connections between language and mind focuses on a range of problems from numerous perspectives, covering topics such as language and categorization, language and inference, language and social cognition, language and inner states, and linguistic relativity Nick Enfield, William Foley, Maïa Ponsonnet, Sebastian Fedden, Nick Riemer

Language and Multimodality. We emphasize the multimodal context of language, with a number of lines of research into how language make meaning in conjunction with other semiotic systems including photographs, illustrations, written text layouts, and co-speech hand gestures Monika Bednarek, James Martin, Nick Enfield

Language in education. Drawing on systemic functional linguistics we have pursued the development of literacy pedagogy and curriculum in action research projects ranging across primary, secondary and tertiary sectors of education, engendering the genre-based literacy programs associated with the 'Sydney School', now implemented in a variety of educational contexts around the world, including both first and additional language education. James Martin, Ahmar Mahboob

Media Discourse. We have research expertise on the ways in which language and associated meaning systems are used in the mass media, including news discourse as well as television drama
Monika Bednarek, James Martin

Systemic functional linguistics. Continuing and developing the tradition of research pioneered by our department’s founding professor, M.A.K. Halliday, our department has long fostered work at the cutting edge of research in systemic functional approaches to phonology, grammar, discourse semantics, register and genre. James Martin

Other research activity and expertise