Robert Amery

Dr Robert Amery

Head of Linguistics

School of Humanities

Faculty of Arts

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


For much of my professional career I have worked intensively with the Kaurna language, the Indigenous language of Adelaide and the Adelaide Plains. Kaurna had been written off by most as a 'dead' or 'extinct' language, but fortunately reasonable written documentation existed thanks to the efforts of three German missionaries from the Dresden Mission Society who came to Adelaide in 1838 and 1840. After more than 25 years of painstaking effort, there are now several Kaurna people who can conduct a conversation in Kaurna without resorting to English too quickly, and we are seeing the first semi-native speakers of Kaurna emerging. For more on the revival of Kaurna, download the recent publication Warraparna Kaurna! Reclaiming an Australian Language from University of Adelaide Press,
https://www.adelaide.edu.au/press/titles/kaurna/ (Free Download) . See also the film Buckskin (http://buckskinfilm.com/about-the-film/).

I have worked in Linguistics since the early 1980s, primarily with Australian Languages (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages). I first worked as a nurse in remote Aboriginal communities (Balgo, Walungurru (Kintore), Papunya) and in Alice Springs Hospital with people who spoke Western Desert (Gugadja, Pintupi, Pitjantjatjara, Arrernte, Warlpiri etc). Later I worked in northeast Arnhemland, breifly in Gove District Hospital and then travelling around Yolngu communities engaged in Aboriginal Health Worker training and compilation of resources in Yolngu Matha for health professionals.

I currently hold an ARC Discovery grant together with Prof Jane Simpson from ANU where together with Dr Mary-Anne Gale and Dr David Wilkins we are undertaking an analysis of Ngarrindjeri texts published in Ronald and Catherine Berndt's (1993) book A World That Was.

In July 2016 I travelled to Aceh, Indonesia, to conduct a Language Survey of Pulau Banyak and Pualau Simeulue, islands off the southwest coast of Aceh close to the epicentre of the 2004 tsunami.This survey was undertaken together with Dr Zulfadli Aziz, from the University of Syiah Kuala in Banda Aceh. This work is supported by a Language Documentation grant from the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL).

I am a linguist, intensely interested in endangered languages, their maintenance and revival. I have worked primarily with Australian Aboriginal languages, specifically with the reclamation and re-introduction of the Kaurna language of the Adelaide Plains for over 25 years.

Research Interests include:

  • Australian Indigenous Languages
  • Kaurna linguistics
  • Language Reclamation
  • Language maintenance and revival
  • Indigenous languages education
  • Language Planning (including lexical expansion and language development)
  • Sociolinguistics (including language loyalty, language and identity)
  • Mission linguistics
  • Language contact phenomena
  • Languages of Pulau Simeulue and Pulau Banyak, Aceh, Indonesia
  • Cross-Cultural Communication: Aboriginal languages and health care delivery
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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2018 Associate Professor Level D promotion; Head of Linguistics; Manager of KWP Team University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2012 Manager of Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi (KWP) Team University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2011 - 2017 Head of Linguistics, Senior Lecturer Level C (full itme) University of Adelaide
    2010 - 2011 Guest Professor in Australian Studies (Linguistics) University of Cologne
    2010 - 2011 Senior Lecturer Level C (0.75 time) University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2009 - 2011 Manager, Mobile Language Team (MLT) University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2009 - 2009 Lecturer B, Linguistics (0.75 time) University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2006 - 2009 Lecturer B, Linguistics (Full-time) University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2004 - 2008 Kaurna Language Teacher Department of Education and Children's Services
    2004 - 2006 Lecturer B (Linguistics) (0.6 FTE) University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2001 - 2004 Senior Lecturer (FT) University of South Australia
    1998 - 2001 Lecturer B, Linguistics (0.5 FTE) University of Adelaide
    1997 - 1997 Associate Lecturer in Linguistics (Part Time) University of Adelaide
    1993 - 1994 Tutor in Linguistics (part-time casual contracts) University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    1993 - 1995 Project Officer, Australian Indigenous Languages Framework (AILF) Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia (SSABSA)
    1991 - 1992 Lecturer in Applied Linguistics Northern Territory University
    1990 - 1991 Lecturer 1 (Linguistics) Batchelor College
    1989 - 1989 Aboriginal Languages Coordinator South Australian Department of Education
    1989 - 1989 Teacher Linguist SA Education Department
    1986 - 1986 Nurse Educator NT Health
    1986 - 1986 Registered Nurse Gove District Hospital
    1982 - 1982 Remote Area Registered Nurse Lyappa Congress Health Service
    1981 - 1982 Registered Nurse Alice Springs Hospital
    1980 - 1980 Public Health Field Nurse Community & Child Health Services, Western Australia
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2007 Achievement UNESCO Adelaide Chapter Achievement Award UNESCO Adelaide Chapter Australia
    2006 Honour Port Adelaide-Enfield Council Non-Indigenous Person of the Year Port Adelaide-Enfield Council Australia
    1999 Honour NAIDOC Non-Indigenous Person of the Year National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Australia
  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    Indonesian Can read, write, speak and understand spoken
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    1995 - 1998 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
    1985 - 1989 University of New England Australia Diploma of Continuing Education
    1983 - 1986 Australian National University Australia MA
    1972 - 1975 Australian National University, Canberra Australia BSc
  • Postgraduate Training

    Date Title Institution Country
    1995 - 1998 PhD University of Adelaide Australia
  • Certifications

    Date Title Institution name Country
    1982 Intensive Advanced Linguistics Course Summer Institute of Linguistics
    1980 Intensive Introductory Linguistics Course Summer Institute of Linguistics
    1979 Registered Nurse Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Australia
  • Research Interests

Current

  • 2019-2017 – Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant PROJECT ID: DP190102413 Towards Sustainable Language Revival: A critical analysis of Kaurna. $404,000.00. Amery, Assoc. Prof.  Robert M (CI1); Senior Research Associate: Dr Mary-Anne Gale
  • 2017-2022- Kaurna Language Breaking New Ground: Commonwealth Government, Indigenous Languages & the Arts $600,000 over five years (Pirltawardli Puppet Shows, Kaurna placenames research, Kaurna lexicography, language immersion activities)

Grants Previously Held (selection)

  • 2015-2017 – Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant PROJECT ID: DP150103287 Linguistic analysis of Ngarrindjeri texts. $357,700.00. Amery, Dr Robert M (CI1); Simpson, Prof Jane H. (CI2), Senior Research Associate: Dr Mary-Anne Gale; Consultant Linguist: Dr David Wilkins.
  • 2015-2017- Kaurna Language Project: Commonwealth Government, Indigenous Languages & the Arts $300,000 over two years (Pirltawardli Puppet Shows, Kaurna placenames research, language camp)
  • 2016 –ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, Language Documentation Grant $19,829 for Language Survey of Pulau Simeulue and Pulau Banyak. Aceh, July-Aug. 2016. Project undertaken in collaboration with Dr Zulfadli Aziz, Syiah Kuala University, Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
  • July 2012 – June 2015 ILS Grant: Consolidating Kaurna Language Revival ($420,000; $140,000pa over 3 years)

  • July 2011 – June 2012 MILR Grant: Kaurna Dictionary Project ($53,000)

  • July 2010 – June 2012 MILR Grant: Kaurna Radio and Download Project  ($44,177)

  • July 2010 – June 2012 MILR Grant: Kaurna Learner’s Guide Redesign and Publication ($22,517)

  • Jan. 2009 – Dec. 2010 Onkaparinga Council & Tappa Iri Agreement: Southern Kaurna Placenames project Stage 2 ($12,000).

  • Jul. 2006 – Jun. 2009 Department of Communication, Information Technology & the Arts (DCITA) Grant: Kaurna Language Database project ($20,000) Completed.

  • Jul. 2006 – Jun. 2009 DCITA Grant: Ngadjuri Picture Dictionary ($60,000). Completed.

  • June 2006 Onkaparinga Council & Tappa Iri Agreement: Southern Kaurna Placenames project Stage 1 ($13,000)

  • June 2005 – Sept 2006 DCITA Grant: Kaurna Learners Guide ($63,000)

  • June 2005 – Sept 2006 DCITA Grant: Strengthening Community Involvement in Kaurna Language Revival ($20,000)

  • April 2005 Sisters of St Joseph Grant: Reclaiming Kaurna Funerals ($5,460)

  • March 2005 University of Adelaide Research Grant: Grey Microfilm ($6,592)

  • Dec 2003 UniSA Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences research grant awarded to Syd Sparrow, Bevin Wilson, Mary-Anne Gale and Rob Amery for Bringing the Ngarrindjeri Language Home project. ($10,000)

  • 2003    UniSA Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences Research grant awarded to Rob Amery and Lewis O’Brien for Kaurna Funeral Protocols project. ($8,000)

  • Feb. – May 2002  Adelaide City Council: Kaurna Placenames Consultancy

  • 2001-2002 AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE FOR ABORIGINAL & TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER STUDIES (AIATSIS): South Australian Aboriginal Language Needs Survey Consultancy

  • 2001 UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE URG research project ‘Bringing the Languages Home’

  • Aug. 1998 – 1999 DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, TRAINING & EMPLOYMENT :Consultant to DETE Strategic Results Project

  • 1997 – 1998 DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, TRAINING & EMPLOYMENT: Consultant Linguist to DETE Pathways Project developing 'Scope and Sequence' statements for Kaurna language programs.

  • 1996 – 1997 DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION & CHILDREN’S SERVICES (DECS): Consultant Linguist to DECS QW Project: Aboriginal Language Revival Programs and the LOTE Statement and Profile: Forging links and portraying good practice. Appeared in and assisted video production Warranna Purruna: Living Languages: Pa:mpi Tungarar  and accompanying print-based product.

Courses Developed, Coordinated and Taught
Course Title Institution Course Level/ Code
Reclaiming Languages: A Kaurna Case Study University of Adelaide LING 2039 / LING 3015
Australian Indigenous Languages University of Adelaide LING 2014 / LING 3013
Perspectives on Language Variation and Change (CAPSTONE) University of Adelaide LING 3020
Translation: Practice and Theory (Linguistics) University of Adelaide LING 3021

Foundations of Linguistics

University of Adelaide LING 1101
Language and Ethnography of Communication University of Adelaide LING 1102
Cross-Cultural Communication University of Adelaide LING 2038
Phonology University of Adelaide LING 2040 / 3038
Morphology & Syntax University of Adelaide LING 2015 / 3016
Field Linguistics University of Adelaide LING 5014
Language Revival: Securing the Future of Endangered Languages University of Adelaide edX MOOC
Aboriginal Health University of South Australia  
Teaching into Other Courses
Course Title Institution Course Level/ Code
Language Learning and Linguistics University of Adelaide LING 5011
Languages in the 21st Century: Cultural Contact and New Words University of Adelaide LING 3019
Language in a Global Society University of Adelaide LING 2037
Language and Communication Planning (Language Maintenance & Planning) University of Adelaide LING 2030 / LING 3030
Language, Cognition & Reality University of Adelaide LING
Language and Environment University of Adelaide LING
Australian Languages, Issues and Debates Flinders University  
Aboriginal Cultures University of South Australia  
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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 Principal Supervisor A Comparative Study of Breton and Cornish Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mrs Susie Jane Greenwood
    2019 Principal Supervisor A Temporality-Centric Model of TAM (Tense-Aspect-Mood) and Pragmatic Inputs Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Quang Anh Le
    2018 Co-Supervisor Reconstruction of Barngarla Lexicon from Primary and Secondary Sources Master of Philosophy Master Part Time Mrs Ingrid Michelle Kerrigan
    2018 Principal Supervisor Co-option of grammatical resources from foreign languages Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Ms Chloe Michelle Castle
    2017 Principal Supervisor Rhetorical Structure and Persuasion in Classical Hebrew Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Caryn Naomi Rogers
    2017 Principal Supervisor Linguistic Classification in the Daly River Languages Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Christopher Raymond Venning
    2016 Co-Supervisor Arabic, Israeli, Hebrew Code Switching in the Arab, Israeli, Muslim , Christian and Druze Sectors - linking Conversational Code Switching to Questions of Social Identity: A Qualitative Study Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Afifa Eve Kheir Ferro
    2015 Co-Supervisor Minority and Indigenous Language Policy and Planning on Tertiary Education in Metropolises of P.R.C. and Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Jie Yang
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2013 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Researching the Mindsets of Monolinguals: A 'Linguistic Self' of Twenty-First Century Monolingual Art Students in Australia Master of Philosophy Master Part Time Ms Lyndal Elizabeth Hordacre Kobayashi
    2013 - 2016 Co-Supervisor A Grammar of Solor - Lamaholot, A Language of Flores, Eastern Indonesia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Yosep Bisara Kroon
    2012 - 2017 Principal Supervisor Pama-Nyungan Morphosyntax: Lineages of Early Description Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Dr Clara Stockigt
    2009 - 2015 Principal Supervisor A SOCIOLINGUISTIC INVESTIGATION OF ACEHNESE WITH A FOCUS ON WEST ACEHNESE: A STIGMATISED DIALECT Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr . Zulfadli
    2008 - 2011 Co-Supervisor Insular Toponymies: Pristine place-naming on Norfolk Island, South Pacific and Dudley Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, South Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Joshua Nash
    2007 - 2009 Principal Supervisor The Intercultural Analysis of Indonesian and Australian Students' Nonverbal Behaviour: An Effort to Develop Intercultural English Learning Material Master of Arts Master Full Time Mrs Karmila Mokoginta
    2006 - 2009 Co-Supervisor On the Issues of Language Contact and Language Shift in Tok Pisin - Focusing on Two "Non-Standard" varieties: Highlands Pidgin and Anglicised Pidgin Master of Arts Master Full Time Ms Miwako Wakizaka
    2002 - 2009 Co-Supervisor Yankunytjatjara Continuity and Change: A linguistic Ecology of the Yankunytjatjara Language, with Particular Emphasis on Cooper Pedy, South Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Petter Naessan
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  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2017 - ongoing Member Languages & Cultures Network for Australian Universities (LCNAU) Ececutive Australia
    2017 - ongoing Member Scientific Committee, Conference on Asian Linguistic Anthropology University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Ho Chi Minh City Viet Nam
    2016 - ongoing Member Teaching Australian Indigenous Languages at University (TAILU) Australian Linguistics Society (ALS) Australia
    2013 - ongoing Advisory Board Member Kaurna Warra Karrpanthi (KWK) Australia
    2002 - ongoing Co-Founder Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi (KWP) Australia
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    1984 - ongoing Australian Linguistic Society (ALS)
  • Consulting/Advisories

    Date Institution Department Organisation Type Country
    2017 - ongoing Syiah Kuala University, Banda Aceh, Indonesia Social Sciences Scientific research Indonesia
  • Position: Head of Linguistics
  • Phone: 83133924
  • Email: robert.amery@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 4341
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Napier, floor 9
  • Room: 9 10
  • Org Unit: Linguistics

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