IRP Femidal (2021-2025)
The CNRS-INSERM IRP FEMIDAL (Formal/Experimental Methods and In-depth Description of Australian Indigenous Languages) is a collaborative research program bringing together Australian academics from Europe and Australia working on formal and experimental linguistics, and/or Indigenous Australian languages. While members of the project belong to a dozen different research institutions, FEMIDAL is spearheaded by the Laboratoire de Linguistique Formelle (UMR CNRS 7110) at the Université de Paris, and the School of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Melbourne, its coordinators being Dr Patrick CAUDAL (CRHC, LLF, CNRS & U. Paris) and Ass.Prof. Brett BAKER. The project capitalizes on a long-standing scientific collaboration, as several international projects focusing on the theoretical and formal study of Australian languages have jointly involved the LLF and several Australian partners of the consortium. It mainly focuses on theoretical, formal and experimental approaches to the typologically remarkable morpho-semantic complexity inherent to the Australian linguistic phylum.
The project aims at contributing to developing joint descriptive and theoretical / formal / experimental works on Australian languages, especially non-Pama-Nyungan languages spoken in Northern Australia, and to strengthen existing links between French / European and Australian institutions in this domain. Non-Pama-Nyungan languages, and Australian languages in general, possess many typologically rare and complex features, and are also critically endangered. They can be therefore regarded as a priority for linguistic research, be it descriptive, theoretical or typological. The coming decade will be our last opportunity to study many of those highly complex, and scientifically revealing languages for bettering our understanding of language as a universal human ability.
Our research activities are mainly dedicated at documenting, analyzing and construing theoretical, experimental and formal models for under-described Indigenous languages spoken in Australia. Not only will they contribute to bolstering our knowledge of these typologically remarkable languages, but they will also have practical benefits for communities associated with the studied languages, in the middle to long run.
Direct benefits comprise helping preserving key knowledge related to (often critically) endangered languages and generally documenting not only linguistic phenomena, but also ethnolinguistic matters of cultural significance – project outcomes (including scholarly publications such as sketch grammars, theoretical articles, etc., but also field recordings and annotated corpora) will of course be made available to the relevant communities in various forms (both as printed and electronic material). FEMIDAL will thus indirectly benefit said communities by developing linguistic and ethnolinguistic resources upon which revitalization programmes and other types of cultural development programmes will be able to capitalize.
Capacity-building among Australianists in terms of formal and experimental practices notably relating to theoretical semantics and pragmatics
Promote descriptive knowledge of Australian languages and detailed descriptive/field work practices among formal experimental semanticists and pragmaticists alike
Foster deeper, mutually beneficial scientific connections between French and Australian research bodies & universities, in terms of knowledge transfer, training, and generally added scientific value to the work at hand (including through the promotion of joint PhD and postdoc supervision / cotutelles)
Pave the way for novel cooperation agreements between some leading Australian universities in our field (e.g. Western Sydney University, Newcastle University and the University of Western Australia) and the CNRS.
Main themes addressed in the project are:
complexity in inflectional morphology (including distributed exponence, and periphrastic morphology) and the morphology / semantic interface
formal and experimental semantics & pragmatics in the field
word formation processes and lexical complexity, including discontinuous forms
areal typology, especially for tense, aspect, modality, evidentiality, and event description-related categories, regardless of part-of-speech categories
Laboratoire de Linguistique Formelle, UMR 7110, CNRS & Université de Paris (Patrick Caudal CRHC (coord.), Olivier Bonami (PR), Barbara Hemforth (DR), Ira Noveck (DR), Berthold Crysmann (CRHC), David Guerrero-Beltran (PhD student), Marie Legentil (PhD student)
School of Languages and Linguistics, The University of Melbourne (Ass. Prof. Brett Baker (coord.), Prof. Rachel Nordlinger, Prof. Lesley Stirling, Dr. Ruth Singer)
Australian National University, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific (Prof. Nicholas Evans), ANU College of Arts and Social Science/ School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics (Prof. Jane Simpson)
Western Sydney University, School of Humanities and Communication Arts (Ass. Prof. Robert Mailhammer)
School of Humanities and Social Science, The University of Newcastle, (Assoc. Prof. Mark Harvey, Daniel Krausse (PhD student)
School of Social Sciences, The University of Western Australia (Ass. Prof Marie-Eve Ritz, Ass. Prof. Maïa Ponsonnet)
Participants in external institutions (Europe/Australia)
Prof. Eva Schultze-Berndt, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, The University of Manchester
Dr. James Bednall (Lecturer), Top End Language Lab/Batchelor Institute, Charles Darwin University, Australia
Dr. Marie-Elaine van Egmond (Lecturer), Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
Dr. Stef Spronck (Postdoctoral researcher), The University of Helsinki, Finland