Understanding human language


At the core of what it means to be human, and central to so much of our interaction, is language. It’s what sets us apart from every other species on Earth. Linguistics at UWA aims to grow your language understanding and skills, as well as complement other areas of study where language plays a role. Gain a foundation for a career that involves language or languages, human social organisation and culture, or the human mind. Graduates could pursue a career in research, language teaching, speech therapy, journalism and broadcasting, translation and interpreting, Indigenous education and support work, or information technology.

We work closely with the Translation and Inter-cultural Research Cluster, a research entity dedicated to advancing understanding of contemporary language-related issues, including:

  • translation
  • multilingualism
  • cross-cultural communication

UWA Linguistics is committed to sustainable academic practice. Read our working paper here. The lead for the Discipline of Linguistics is Dr Luisa Miceli

Linguistics is the most scientific of the humanities and the most humanistic of the sciences.

Nicholas Evans

Our research expertise

Our research expertise and projects involve work on diverse languages including Australian and Aboriginal English, Kriol, French, Spanish and a range of Indigenous languages in Australia.
Sociolinguistics/language variation and change
Exploring how language relates to culture and society, and relations between linguistic and social variables in language and change.
Language description and documentation
Discovering the structures of previously undescribed languages, and documenting endangered languages.
Anthropological linguistics
Studying the relationship between language and culture, and how humans use language in social interactions.
Historical linguistics
Answering how we reconstruct the linguistic past through our study and understanding of how languages can change over time.
Bilingualism and bidialectalism
Investigating how bilingual individuals process and use their languages, and bilingualism and bidialectalism at the community level.
Meaning in language: semantics and pragmatics
Looking at how we communicate meaning through language and how meanings change through time.


Dr Celeste Rodriguez Louro awarded Vice-Chancellor's Research Award

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Dr Celeste Rodriguez Louro awarded two UWA Teaching Excellence Awards

Dr Celeste Rodriguez Louro awarded Australian Research Council DECRA Award

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Dr Luisa Miceli awarded two UWA Student Guild Students' Choice Awards

Dr Maia Ponsonnet awarded Australian Research Council DECRA Award


Monitoring as a Driver of Differential Language Change

When languages share speakers one observed outcome is that their vocabulary differentiates while their structure converges. A monitoring process in bilingual speakers has been proposed as the mechanism responsible for vocabularies becoming more distinct over time. Words shared across a bilingual’s languages are selected less often than language distinctive words because they are ambiguous in their language membership and may be avoided in favour of an unambiguous synonym. Could monitoring also explain convergence in structure? In this study we test the hypothesis that different change outcomes for form/structure result from differences in our ability to monitor for these two levels.

Aboriginal English in the global city: do minorities participate in surrounding language change?

This ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award project will directly inform the implementation of cross-cultural teaching programs in Australia. For more information, visit our project webpage. 

Landscape, language and culture in Indigenous Australia

This project explores descriptions of space and landscape in Australian Indigenous languages, based on experimental and natural data in six endangered languages around the continent.


Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiad


The Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiad is a state and national linguistics competition for secondary students. This competition introduces students to language puzzles which challenge natural logic and reasoning, while helping students learn about the richness, diversity and systematic nature of language.

Find out more


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