• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Linguistics
  • Areas of interest Asian Languages, Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Asian Studies, Language Studies, Asia-Pacific Studies More...
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • AsPr I Wayan Arka
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2019
    See Future Offerings

This course is an introduction to Austronesian languages, exploring the history, linguistic and socio-cultural-political diversity of the Austronesian world. Austronesian is the world's largest language family in terms of geographical spread, spanning more than half the globe: from Madagascar to Easter Island, and from Taiwan to New Zealand. This vast and diverse language family is also one of the best documented. It includes both major world languages with millions of speakers, like Indonesian and Tagalog, and tiny Oceanic languages spoken on a remote island with only a couple of hundred speakers. During the course students will learn about the migration and dispersion of the Austronesian people and salient features characterising their languages, social organisations and cultures. Case studies are used to represent certain salient Austronesian features in relation to particular (sub)regions and societies to cover topics in Austronesian sound systems and grammars, writing systems, ritual language and religions, language contact and change, language ecology, the politics of language, language landscape and verbal arts.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On successful completion of the course, students will have the skills and knowledge to:
1. demonstrate an understanding of the basic terminology, concepts and issues of the field of linguistics and related fields as they pertain to the Austronesian languages;
2. identify and discuss the salient linguistic and socio-cultural characteristics of the varieties of the Austronesian language family;
3. assess the typical arguments pertaining to the history and typological properties of  the varieties of  Austronesian languages;
4. analyse and compare linguistic systems, and related socio-cultural-political aspects based on concrete data;
5. undertake guided research and analysis of data for a selected topic for a given project;
6. present and justify the research results of the project with clarity and focus, both orally and in writing.

Indicative Assessment

1. Two problem-sets illustrating linguistic analyses to concrete data (40%, LOs 1, 4), with 1-2 pages of data  calling for 2-3 pages of analysis.
2. Research plan (5%; LOs  4,5)
3. A short critical summary of 1000 words of a journal article, which addresses a significant issue in Austronesian studies (5%; LOs 1,2,3).
4. A 15 minute oral presentation on a selected topic, possibly developed to become a research essay topic (10%; LOs 2,3,4, 6).
5. A research essay, 2000-2500 words, which can either be an original investigation and analysis of some aspect of an Austronesian language and culture, or a comparative study of a particular property across Austronesian languages/cultures (40%, including 10% draft, 5% peer-review report, and 25% final revised version; LOs 1,2,3,4,5,6).

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The workload consists of a total of around 10 hours per week for various activities: 3 contact hours (2 hours lectures and 1 hour tutorial) and around 7 hours for weekly readings, tutorial preparation, and assessment items (problem sets and term paper).Total workload for the course is 130 hours including independent study.  
The lectures provide the students with the background knowledge and skills on the relevant weekly topics; the tutorials provide them with practical exercises and further discussions of topics and problems, issues and crucial points of the lectures. The students are expected to do all home assignments (usually in the form of problem sets and basic research), which are assessed to demonstrate their progress in learning and acquiring new knowledge and skills.  

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course students will need to have completed LING1001 or LING6001, or have the permission of the course convenor.

Prescribed Texts

Blust, Robert. 2013. The Austronesian languages (the revised edition). Canberra: Asia-Pacific Linguistics

Preliminary Reading

Adelaar, Alexander. 2005. The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar: A historical perspective. In The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar, ed. by Alexander Adelaar and Nikolaus P. Himmelmann, 1-42. London and New York: Routledge.

Arka, I Wayan. 2013. "Language management and minority language maintenance in (eastern) Indonesia: strategic issues." Language Documentation and Conservation 7:74-105.
Blust, Robert. 2013. The Austronesian languages (the revised edition). Canberra: Asia-Pacific Linguistics.
Crowley, Terry. 2000. "The Consequences of Vernacular (II)literacy in the Pacific." Current Issues in Language Planning 1 (3):368-388, DOI: 10.1080/14664200008668012.
Fishman, Joshua A. 1997. "Language, ethnicity and racism." In Sociolinguistics: a reader and coursebook, edited by Nikolas Couplan and Adam Jaworski, 329-340. New York: St. Martin's Press
Fox, James J. 1982. "The Rotinese chotbah as a linguistic performance." In Papers from the third International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics, edited by S.A.  Wurm, 311–318. Canberra Pacific Linguistic
Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. 2005. The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar: Typological characteristics. In The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar, ed. by Alexander Adelaar and Nikolaus P. Himmelmann, 110-181. London and New York: Routledge.
Michael, Lev. 2014. ‘Social dimensions of language change.’ In Bowern, Claire & Evans, Bethwyn (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Historical Linguistics, pp. 484-98.
Mühlhäusler, Peter. 1996. Chapter 1 ‘The changing linguistic ecology of the Pacific region’ in Linguistic ecology: language change and linguistic imperialism in the Pacific region London: Routledge.
Ross, Malcolm. 2003. Talking about space: terms of location and direction. In Malcolm Ross, Andrew 
Telle, Kari. 2016. "Ritual Power: Risk, Rumours and Religious Pluralism on Lombok." The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 17 (5):419-438. doi: 10.1080/14442213.2016.1206614

Assumed Knowledge

The course assumes some prior knowledge in linguistics.

Areas of Interest

  • Asian Languages
  • Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
  • Asian Studies
  • Language Studies
  • Asia-Pacific Studies
  • Linguistics



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $3000
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $4560
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4490 25 Feb 2019 04 Mar 2019 31 Mar 2019 31 May 2019 In Person View

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