PhD in Comparative Conversation Analysis

Seeking a PhD student to work on Comparative Conversation Analysis in Australian Aboriginal Languages

Project: Conversational Interaction in Aboriginal and Remote Australia (CIARA)

The research project ‘Conversational Interaction in Aboriginal and Remote Australia’ (CIARA) is funded by the Australian Research Council and will run for four years from 2018-2022. The research team consists of Chief Investigators Dr Joe Blythe (Macquarie University; project leader), Professor Lesley Stirling (University of Melbourne), Associate Professor Ilana Mushin (University of Queensland) and Associate Professor Rod Gardner (University of Queensland), as well as Research Assistant Dr Francesco Possemato and Macquarie PhD student Josua Dahmen. The project’s methodology is Comparative Conversation Analysis, sometimes called Pragmatic Typology, and the overall aim of the project is to investigate possible variation within the interactional domain by comparing informal conversations conducted in four Australian Aboriginal languages (Jaru, Gija, Murrinhpatha and Garrwa) with conversations conducted in poorly documented varieties of non-Aboriginal English in rural and remote outback regions of Australia. The project is supported by a reference group of Aboriginal researchers.

We are seeking a student to undertake a PhD to be associated with but not funded by the project, to be based at the University of Queensland under the primary supervision of Associate Professor Ilana Mushin. We would expect the student to apply for a standard PhD scholarship and be accepted by the University through its standard application processes, where preference is given to students working within ARC-funded projects, and their applications can be considered outside of the usual deadlines for scholarship applications.

The student would work on a comparison of an aspect of conversation across at least two of the Aboriginal languages under study in this project using a Conversation Analysis/Interactional Linguistics approach. The student would work with the existing corpus being developed for this project and not be expect to undertake additional fieldwork to collect data. It is expected that the student would however be able to transcribe and annotate existing recordings as part of the PhD study. The specific topic of the PhD would be open for discussion but would probably align with one of the themes of the broader project: turn-taking and action sequences; conversational narrative; and knowledge representation. We would welcome students who would like to focus on practices of language mixing or shifts between languages in these multilingual communities, as well as students who would like to focus on the comparative use of grammar in conversation.

The student would be part of the project team and have the opportunity to receive mentoring and intellectual support from project members and to contribute to the larger project through taking part in workshops and publications. The student would also benefit from being part of the large and vibrant postgraduate student cohort within the Linguistics program in the School of Languages & Cultures at the University of Queensland.

Prospective students should be eligible to apply for a PhD in Linguistics at the University of Queensland, either as a domestic or an international applicant (for more information see and ). Students with a background in Australian Aboriginal Languages, conversation analysis/interactional linguistics, discourse analysis or pragmatics, could be particularly suited to this PhD topic area, but anyone with an interest in this PhD is welcome to contact us for more information. Please register your expression of interest by Monday, December 3rd 2018

Contact: Associate Professor Ilana Mushin,, +61 7 3365 6810

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Nathaniel Mitchell