• 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, Language Studies, Linguistics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • AsPr Wayan Arka
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2025
    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:

  1. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the key terminology, concepts and issues of the field of linguistics and its relevance to Austronesian languages;
  2. Identify, explore and discuss the salient linguistic and socio-cultural attributes characterising the various (sub)groups within the Austronesian language family;
  3. Evaluate and critically analyse the prevailing arguments concerning the historical development and typological features of Austronesian languages;
  4. Conduct detailed and insightful comparative analyses of linguistic systems and their associated socio-cultural and political dimensions grounded in empirical data;
  5. Undertake guided research and data analysis focusing on a selected topic for a designated project;
  6. Articulate and substantiate research findings with precision and coherence, both in oral presentations and written reports.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Two problem sets, each comprising 1500 words max (excluding data). (40) [LO 1,4]
  2. Research plan (1000 words max) (5) [LO 4,5]
  3. Critical summary (1000 words) (5) [LO 1,2,3]
  4. Oral presentation (10) [LO 2,3,4,6]
  5. Research essay (2500 words max) (40) [LO 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 total workload for this 6-unit course is 130 hours. This workload is distributed across approximately 10 hours per week for various activities, encompassing 3 contact hours (2 hours of lectures and 1 hour of tutorials), and approximately 7 hours dedicated to weekly self-directed study time (including readings, tutorial preparation, and completion of assessment items such as problem sets and term papers).

Lectures are designed to equip students with background knowledge and skills relevant to the weekly topics, while tutorials offer practical exercises and facilitate further discussions on the subjects covered in lectures, addressing specific problems, issues, and crucial points. Home assignments, typically in the form of problem sets and basic research, are assigned to assess students' progress in learning and acquiring new knowledge and skills. Students are expected to complete these assignments, showcasing their understanding and application of the course material.

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

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.


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3651 17 Feb 2025 24 Feb 2025 31 Mar 2025 23 May 2025 In Person N/A

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