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Department of Linguistics

About us

The Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University is one of the largest and most diverse linguistics departments in Australia, and possibly one of the largest and most diverse departments internationally. The department hosts various research centres, clinical groups, and other research groups, which collaboratively foster a dynamic and interdisciplinary teaching and research environment.

Teaching and research within the department extends across five distinct, yet interrelated, disciplinary areas:

  1. Applied Linguistics & Teaching English to Speaker of Other Language (TESOL)
  2. Translation and Interpreting
  3. Audiology
  4. Speech and Language Pathology
  5. Editing and Electronic Publishing

Research Innovation

The Department is particularly proud to be home to a Macquarie University Research Centre, the Centre for Language Sciences. Alongside the Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, CLaS has members in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Cognition and its Disorders. The Centre of Excellence is funded for 7 years from 2011, and is directed by Professor Stephen Crain. There are several other active research centres within the department, including the Centre for Language in Social Life, the Applied Lnguistics and Language in Education Research Centre and the Centre for Translation and Interpreting Research which includes sign language interpreting. The department prides itself on being the world's leading institution for research in Auslan, the Australian sign language.

A leading Audiology section in the department has been crucial in ensuring Macquarie's central involvement as one of five core parties in the HEARing Co-operative Research Centre. Our Speech and Hearing Clinic, provide services to the community as well as placement opportunities for students.

Teaching Excellence

Staff members in Linguistics support undergraduate and postgraduate coursework degrees as well as postgraduate research degrees. We cater to the interests of a diverse student body, with over 130 domestic and international students currently enrolled in Higher Degree Research programs, primarily in the PhD, and we also have students enrolled in joint PhD programs with other universities overseas (co-tutelle programs).

Community Outreach

Sign LanguageThe Department of Linguistics has worked diligently to maintain its tradition of community service and outreach. The department has achieved a high standard of community service in a variety of ways. 

Examples of our engagement with the community include:

Interpreting for the Prime Minister

One of our Linguistics staff has interpreted for previous Prime Minister Julia Gillard when she announced that the government will set up a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiads (OZCLO)

Members of the Linguistics Department at Macquarie University, led by Dr. Verna Rieschild, have been organising the events for the 2011 rounds of the Fourth Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiads. Macquarie University Linguistics Department is providing administrative support for the National body as well as financially supporting the New South Wales (South) division of OzCLO.

The Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiads is a nationally held competition for students from years 9-12 with a keen interest in English, languages, or computing, or who just like solving puzzles and problems. The competition will be held all around Australia and consists of a regionally based, first round followed by a national round. Winning national teams have represented Australia overseas at the International Linguistics Olympiad.

Hearing Aids for Children in Samoa

Emeritus Professor Philip Newall and his wife Cristy (an ex Macquarie audiology graduate) have been making visits to Samoa three times a year to test children with possible hearing loss, and to fit children with hearing aids. Their initial involvement was through a charity called the Carabez Alliance who started working with children at the request of Donna Lene, principal and teacher of the deaf at the SENESE resource centre in Samoa. Since then, Professor Newall and Cristy have been making the visits. Recently, audiologists from the Royal Institute for Deaf Children have accompanied them, and last year, a Macquarie audiology student, Megan O'Donnell joined the group, and carried out a project that surveyed hearing and health services for children.

Professor Newall notes that while there is usually an incidence of about 1 in 1,000 children born with a severe hearing loss, this seems to be exceeded in developing countries. Some reports suggest that developing countries may have up to six times the normal incidence of hearing loss. Samoa is no exception. Professor Newall reports that they have visited Samoa about 8 times. To date they have fitted over 80 children with hearing aids provided by companies Phonak and Unitron. Prior to these visits, there were no children with hearing aids in Samoa and signing was the dominant method of communication for these children.

Interpreting for the Over 55 Expo

Students from our Interpreting program were on hand at the Over 55 Expo held jointly by the Ryde, Parammatta and Hornsby Councils in Eastwood on November 3, 2010. The event was organized to provide information about available services for the Over 55 community. Our students were present to interpret for members of the community who spoke Mandarin, Cantonese or Korean as they sought information from the broad range of service providers.

Australian Voices

A new resource on Australian English has been mounted on the Centre for Language Sciences website. Drs. Felicity Cox and Sallyanne Palethorpe have put together a wealth of information on Australian English voices and accents. The website is complete with soundbites of various regional accents, ethnocultural accents, and the Australian accent as it has changed over time.


Professor Pam Peters and a team of colleagues from Linguistics and other departments have been working hard to put together online dictionaries that help students understand the jargon that is specific to academic disciplines in science and social science.

Budget Speeches

image of a word cloudThe Centre for Language and Social Life has released a linguistic analysis of the budget speeches from 2005 to 2010, incorporating the last three Costello speeches and the first three Swan speeches. The revised report includes a brief discussion of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's "great big new speech". The study used a specialized computer program to measure the frequency of certain words and phrases in the speeches, giving new insight into the rhetorical styles of the current and previous treasurer.

AMEP Research Group

Providing professional development for teachers in the Adult Migrant English Program.