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The Australian National University

Mark Donohue

Mark Donohue is a linguist working at The Australian National University. (No, not this Mark Donohue.) He has worked on languages of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (both Austronesian and Papuan), and more recently languages of the Himalayas (in Nepal and Bhutan).

Ongoing language projects include:

  • Iha, a Papuan language of western New Guinea;
  • Skou, a Papuan language of northern New Guinea;
  • Saweru, a Papuan language of north-western New Guinea;
  • Kanum, a Papuan language of southern New Guinea;
  • One, a Torricelli language of north-western Papua New Guinea;
  • Papuan Malay, a Malay-lexified (and so classified as Austronesian) language of eastern Indonesia, with many north-western 'Papuan' features;
  • Tukang Besi, an Austronesian language of central Indonesia;
  • Palu'e, an Austronesian language of southern Indonesia;
  • Kusunda, a language isolate from western Nepal;
  • Bumthang, a Tibeto-Burman language from central Bhutan;
  • Spoken Nepali, the oral versions of an Indo-European language from Nepal, and both the donor and recipient of a lot of contact-induced change with Tibeto-Burman languages;
  • Kuke, a Tibeto-Burman language from the Nepal-Tibet border.
  • Tsum, a Tibetan language from the Nepal-Tibet border.
  • Ongoing disciplinary projects include:

  • Phonotactics, the study of patterns in syllable structure;
  • Phonology, particularly non-segmental patterns;
  • Morphosyntax, in particular case marking, agreement, and quantification;
  • Language documentation;
  • Language histories;
  • Austronesian culture history, and the deconstruction of the myth of an 'Austronesian steamroller' neolithic event that reshaped Island Southeast Asia.
  • The unifying thread that runs through these different projects is the dynamicity of language: rather than describing static systems, my research investigates the way languages interact with each other (contact), change over time (history), and show variation both in terms of geography (dialects and internal variation) and within the same speaker's speech, depending on social and linguistic contexts (multilingualism and polyglossia). My work employs the gamut of investigative techniques, from primary work with informants to naturalistic corpora, through to computational analyses of secondary datasets.

    Some of the results of this work can be downloaded from the Bibliography page:


    A perspective on linguists' work, by Flynn, aged 8 (May 29 2014).

    Updated:  31 May 2014/ Responsible Officer:  Mark Donohue/ Page Contact:  Mark Donohue