Laureate Fellow 2013 to present The wellsprings of linguistic diversity
Professor Evans' project tackles the riddle of how linguistic diversity arises: why there are so many languages in parts of the world like Australia and New Guinea, and so few in others, and why do languages in some parts of the world develop such radically different structures? Understanding the causes of language diversity will help the countries and communities in our region maintain their rich linguistic heritage. The project will combine on-the-ground case studies and computational modelling. It will gather detailed information on micro-variation in how people talk in speech communities in Arnhem Land (Bininj Gun-wok and neighbouring languages), the Morehead district of Western Province, PNG (Nen, Nambu and Idi) and Pentecost Island, Vanuatu (Sa and adjoining languages), as well as from comparator communities in Samoa, rural Australia and rural Latin America.