[skip to content]

Department of Linguistics

Professor Peter Austin

BA (AS) Hons, PhD (ANU)


Peter Austin
Department of Linguistics

Marit Rausing Chair in Field Linguistics

London Middle East Institute (LMEI)


Centre for Iranian Studies


Professor Peter Austin
Email address:
020 7898 4586
SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Office Hours:
Tuesdays 12-1pm/Wednesdays 12-1pm


Courses Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Cephas Delalorm,
  • Charlotte Hemmings, The Kelabit Language, Austronesian Voice and Syntactic Theory
  • Douglas Mcnaught, "An Investigation into the Morphosyntax of Tense-aspect and Modality in Sakizaya: an Indigenous Language of Taiwan"
  • Eleanor Ridge, Semantic variation in two varieties of Southeast Ambrym (Vanuatu)
  • Karolina Grzech, Evidentiality in Tena (Lower Napo) Kichwa: a usage-based account
  • Nana Agyeman, Verb serialisation in Efutu
  • Samran Mompagul, An Analysis of Translation Shifts in Thai Translations of English Novels
  • Samuil Marusca, The intonational phonology of Romanian
  • Sarah Croome, Dressed to Kill? The Impact of Superficial Revitalization Measures on Language Vitality.
  • Thomas Ritchie, Valency changing operations in Chimane
  • Tom Owen-Smith, Predication and Participants in the Tamang of Indrawati Khola
  • Tracey Carro Noya, The expression of Tense-Aspect-Mood in Tomárãho

I teach theory and practice of language documentation, including Technology and Documentation, and Applied Documentation and Description, as well as courses in descriptive and theoretical linguistics such as Advanced Syntax, Typology, Historical Linguistics, Austronesian Languages, and Australian Aboriginal Languages. I supervise students working on languages from the Pacific, Australia, India, Mexico, and Nigeria.


My research interests cover descriptive, theoretical and applied linguistics. I have extensive fieldwork experience on Australian Aboriginal languages (northern New South Wales, northern South Australia, and north-west Western Australia) and co-authored with David Nathan the first fully page-formatted hypertext dictionary on the World Wide Web, a bilingual dictionary of Gamilaraay (Kamilaroi), northern New South Wales, as well as publishing seven bilingual dictionaries of Aboriginal languages.

Since 1995 I have been carrying out research on Sasak and Sumbawan, Austronesian languages spoken on Lombok and Sumbawa islands, eastern Indonesia, in collaboration with colleagues at Mataram University and Frankfurt University. My theoretical research is mainly on syntax and focuses on Lexical Functional Grammar, morpho-syntactic typology, computer-aided lexicography and multi-media for endangered languages. I have also published on historical and comparative linguistics, typology, and Aboriginal history and biography. I currently have a small research grant from the British Academy to work with native-speaker scholar Eli Timan on the Jewish Iraqi language, including recording the oldest generation of speakers talking about traditional practices and their memories of life in Iraq. This work is being done with the diaspora community in London, Canada and Israel. For more details and a list of recent publications see my HRELP web page.


For help in contacting SOAS academics and advice on services to business and the community, please contact SOAS Enterprise on +44(0)20 7898 4837 or email enterprise@soas.ac.uk.
For all press and media enquiries please call +44 (0)20 7898 4135 or email comms@soas.ac.uk

Available for
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Press
  • Briefings
  • Special Study Programmes
  • Short Term Consultancy
Regional Expertise
  • South East Asia
Country Expertise


Edited Books or Journal Volumes

Austin, Peter K. and Sallabank, Julia, eds. (2011) Cambridge Handbook of Endangered Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Cambridge Handbooks in Language and Linguistics)

Austin, Peter and Bond, Oliver and Marten, Lutz and Nathan, David, eds. (2011) Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Language Description and Theory. London: SOAS.

Austin, Peter and Bond, Oliver and Charette, Monik and Nathan, David and Sells, Peter, eds. (2009) Proceedings of Conference on Language Documentation and Linguistic Theory 2. London: Department of Linguistics, SOAS.

Austin, Peter, ed. (2008) 1000 languages. The worldwide history of living and lost tongues. London: Thames & Hudson.

Austin, Peter K. and Bond, Oliver and Nathan, David, eds. (2007) Proceedings of Conference on Language Documentation & Linguistic Theory. London, UK: Department of Linguistics, SOAS.

Book Chapters

Austin, Peter (2008) 'Survival of Language.' In: Shuckburgh, E., (ed.), Survival. Cambridge University Press, pp. 80-98. (The Darwin College lectures)

Austin, Peter K. and Bond, Oliver and Nathan, David (2007) 'Introduction.' In: Austin, Peter K. and Bond, Oliver and Nathan, David, (eds.), Proceedings of Conference on Language Documentation & Linguistic Theory. London, UK: Department of Linguistics, SOAS, pp. 1-2.

Austin, Peter (2006) 'Data and Language Documentation.' In: Gippert, J. and Himmelmann, N.P. and Mosel, U., (eds.), Essentials of Language Documentation. Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 87-112.

Austin, Peter (2006) 'Content Questions in Sasak, Eastern Indonesia: An Optimality Theoric Syntax Account.' In: Schulze, F. and Warnk, H., (eds.), Insular Southeast Asia. Linguistic and Cultural Studies in Honour of Bernd Nothofer. Harrassowitz, pp. 1-12.


McGill, Stuart (2009) 'Documenting grammatical tone using Toolbox: an evaluation of Buseman's interlinearisation technique.' Language Documentation and Description, 6 . pp. 236-250.

This list was generated on Thu May 28 00:44:38 2015 BST.