Michael Walsh's research has focused on the 'Top End' of the Northern Territory over the last forty years. This research includes descriptive and typological studies of Aboriginal languages as well as investigations into language use among Indigenous Australians. An interest in lexical semantics has given rise to such studies as one on body part metaphors and another on nominal classification. In these and other studies he is interested in testing general assumptions about how languages are supposed to work against data collected in the field.
Outside of strictly linguistic matters he has carried out research or advised on land claims, assessment of Aboriginal witnesses in legal settings and native title matters. One spin-off of these interests is a focus on cross-cultural communication problems between Indigenous and other Australians.
Current research focus
Michael’s current research projects are focused on the core research areas of the ISCW and include:
- the link between language retention and revitalization and Indigenous health and wellbeing
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language curriculum development at the state and national level
- the history of linguistic research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages
- the use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in arts and cultural expression, especially narrative and song texts.
Selected Publications (last 5 years)
- 2011 The Murinypata Language of North-West Australia. (Outstanding Grammars from Australia 03). München: Lincom Europa. xiv+442pp.
- 2010 Re-Awakening Languages: Theory & Practice in the Revitalisation of Australia's Indigenous Languages, eds. John Hobson, Kevin Lowe, Susan Poetsch and Michael Walsh. Sydney: Sydney University Press.457pp.
- 2011 Guest editor of Special Issue [Australian Languages] of the Australian Review of Applied Linguistics 34(2).
- 2008a Is saving languages a good investment? In Rob Amery and Joshua Nash (eds) .Warra Wiltaniappendi Strengthening Languages: Proceedings of the Inaugural Indigenous Languages Conference (ILC), 24-27 September 2007, University of Adelaide. Adelaide: Discipline of Linguistics, University of Adelaide, 41-50.
- 2008b Terminology planning in Aboriginal Australia. (with Jakelin Troy). In Anthony J. Liddicoat and Richard B. Baldauf Jr. (eds) Language Planning and Policy: Language Planning in Local Contexts. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 156-170. [earlier published in 2004 in: Current Issues in Language Planning Vol. 5 (2): 151-165.]
- 2008c What's the use of linguistics? In Ahmar Mahboob and Naomi Knight (eds) Questioning Linguistics. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 258-271.
- 2009a Australia. In Christopher Moseley (ed.) Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. 3rd ed. Paris: UNESCO Department for Intangible Heritage.
- 2009b California Down Under: Indigenous language revitalization in New South Wales, Australia. (with Kevin Lowe). In Wesley Leonard and Stelómethet Ethel B. Gardner (eds) Language is Life. Proceedings of the 11th Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Conference. June 10-13, 2004, University of California at Berkeley. Berkeley: Survey of California and Other Indian Languages, 100-115.
- 2009c Reinstating Aboriginal placenames around Port Jackson and Botany Bay (with Jakelin Troy). In Koch, Harold and Luise Hercus (eds). 2009. Aboriginal placenames: Naming and re-naming the Australian landscape. (Aboriginal History Monograph 19) Canberra: Aboriginal History Inc and ANU E Press, 55-69.
- 2009d The rise and fall of GIDS in accounts of language endangerment. In Hakim Elnazarov and Nicholas Ostler (eds.). Endangered Languages and History. Proceedings of FEL XIII, Khorog, Tajikistan, 24-26 September 2009. Bath: Foundation for Endangered Languages, 134-141.
- 2010a Introduction: Re-awakening Australian languages (with John Hobson, Kevin Lowe and Susan Poetsch) In Re-Awakening languages: Theory & practice in the revitalisation of Australia's Indigenous languages, eds. John Hobson, Kevin Lowe, Susan Poetsch and Michael Walsh. Sydney: Sydney University Press,
- 2010b Introduction: Language centres and programs. In Re-Awakening languages: Theory & practice in the revitalisation of Australia's Indigenous languages, eds. John Hobson, Kevin Lowe, Susan Poetsch and Michael Walsh. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 103-105.
- 2010c Introduction: Language documentation. In Re-Awakening languages: Theory & practice in the revitalisation of Australia's Indigenous languages, eds. John Hobson, Kevin Lowe, Susan Poetsch and Michael Walsh. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 351-354.
- 2010d Introduction: Literacy and oracy. In Re-Awakening languages: Theory & practice in the revitalisation of Australia's Indigenous languages, eds. John Hobson, Kevin Lowe, Susan Poetsch and Michael Walsh. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 265-266.
- 2010e A linguistic renaissance in the south east of Australia (with Jakelin Troy). In Gunter Senft (ed.) Endangered Austronesian and Australian Aboriginal Languages: Essays on Language Documentation, Archiving and Revitalisation. [Proceedings of the Sixth Conference of the European Society for Oceanists (ESfO), Marseille, France, 6-8 July 2005.]. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 175-182.
- 2010f A neo-colonial farce? Discourses of deficit in Australian Aboriginal land claim and Native Title cases. In Christopher N. Candlin and Jonathan Crichton (eds.) Discourses of Deficit. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 327-346.
- 2010g Why language revitalization sometimes works. In Re-Awakening languages: Theory & practice in the revitalisation of Australia's Indigenous languages, eds. John Hobson, Kevin Lowe, Susan Poetsch and Michael Walsh. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 22-36.
- 2012a Archives, endangered languages and discoverability. In Tania Ka‘ai, Muiris Ó Laoire, Nicholas Ostler, Richard Ka‘ai-Mahuta, Dean Mahuta & Tania Smith (eds) Language Endangerment in the 21st Century: Globalisation, Technology and New Media. Proceedings of the Conference FEL XVI, 12-15 September 2012, AUT University, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Auckland: Re Ipukarea and Printsprint, AUT University; Bath: Foundation for Endangered Languages, 50-53.
- 2012b Stop, revive, survive: Lessons from the Hebrew revival applicable to the reclamation, maintenance and empowerment of Aboriginal languages and cultures. In Susan D. Blum (ed.) Making Sense of Language: Readings in Culture and Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 319-328. reprint with commentary of an article in Australian Journal of Linguistics 31(1): 111-127. [with Ghil’ad Zuckermann]
- in press a “The language was sleeping, it was not lost”: An overview of the state of Indigenous languages in Australia and ongoing strategies for revitalization. In Proceedings of the Aboriginal Policy Research Conference, Ottawa, 9-13 March 2009.
- in press b ‘Linguistic social work’ and the ‘hopeless cause’: the role of linguists in 'dealing with' endangered languages. In Peter Austin and Julia Sallabank (eds.). Proceedings of ELAP Workshop: Beliefs and Ideology on Endangered Languages, Friday 27 and Saturday 28 February, 2009, Birkbeck College and SOAS, University of London. Oxford: British Academy in association with Oxford University Press.
- in press c Ten postulates concerning narrative in Aboriginal Australia. In Lesley Stirling, Tania Strahan & Susan Douglas (eds) Narrative in Intimate Societies. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- 2008 “Which way?” Difficult options for vulnerable witnesses in Australian Aboriginal land claim and native title cases. Journal of English Linguistics, 36 (3). Special issue: Language and Vulnerable Witnesses across Legal Contexts Michelle Aldridge and June Luchenbroers (eds), 239-265.
- 2010 A polytropical approach to the ‘floating pelican’ song: an exercise in rich interpretation of a Murriny Patha (northern Australia) song. In The Language of Song: A Special Issue of Australian Journal of Linguistics. Edited by Tonya Stebbins, Myfany Turpin and Stephen Morey. 30(1): 117-130
- 2011a Australian languages: a challenge for Applied Linguistics. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics 34(2): 258-9.
- 2011b Stop, revive, survive: Lessons from the Hebrew revival applicable to the reclamation, maintenance and empowerment of Aboriginal languages and cultures. In Australian Journal of Linguistics 31(1): 111-127. [with Ghil’ad Zuckermann]
- 2011c Voices from the North: Linguistic Connections between Asia and Aboriginal Australia (A. R. Davis Memorial Lecture, 2010). Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia 43: 1–18.
- Discussion Papers, commentaries and other articles
- 2007 Words for Describing Australian Aboriginal song. Australian Style 15(2): 1-2.
- 2011 Review of Arguing with Tradition: The Language of Law in Hopi Tribal Court. Justin Richland (2008) Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 187pp. Review for International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law 17(2): 323-327.
Selected publications (older than 5 years)
- 2005 Language and Culture in Aboriginal Australia (co-edited with Colin Yallop). Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press. xviii+226 pp. [re-issue]
- 2005a Languages Off Country? Revitalizing the 'Right' Indigenous Languages in the South East of Australia. (with Jakelin Troy). In Nigel Crawhall and Nicholas Ostler (eds) Creating Outsiders: Endangered Languages, Migration and Marginalization. (Proceedings of Ninth Conference of the Foundation for Endangered Languages, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 18-20 November 2005). Bath: Foundation for Endangered Languages, 71-81.
- 2005b Learning while revitalizing: Aboriginal languages in New South Wales, Australia. In May, S., Franken, M., & Barnard, R. (eds) (2005), LED2003: Refereed Conference Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Language, Education and Diversity. Hamilton: Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, University of Waikato.
- 2007a Australian Indigenous languages. In Osahito Miyaoka, Osamu Sakiyama and Michael Krauss (eds) The Vanishing Languages of the Pacific Rim. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 221-238.
- 2007b The Crowley corrective: an alternative voice for language endangerment. In, Jeff Siegel, John Lynch and Diana Eades (eds) Language Description, History and Development Linguistic indulgence in memory of Terry Crowley. Amsterdam: John Benjamins (Creole Language Library 30), 431-437.
- 2007c Indigenous languages: Transitions from the past to the present. In Gerhard Leitner and Ian Malcolm (eds) The Habitat of Australia's Aboriginal Languages: Past, Present and Future. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 79-99.
- 2007d Barwick, L, Blythe, J, Marett, A & Walsh, M 'Arriving, digging, performing, returning: an exercise in rich interpretation of a djanba song text in the sound archive of the Wadeye Knowledge Centre, Northern Territory of Australia', in R. M. Moyle (ed.), Oceanic Encounters: Festschrift for Mervyn McLean, Research in Anthropology and Linguistics Monographs, Auckland. 13-24.
- 2004 Terminology planning in Aboriginal Australia. (with Jakelin Troy). Current Issues in Language Planning Vol. 5 (2): 151-165
- 2005a Communities of interest: issues in establishing a digital resource on Murrinh-patha song at Wadeye (Port Keats), NT. (with Linda Barwick, Allan Marett, Lys Ford and Nicholas Reid). Literary and Linguistic Computing 20(4):383-397. [full text available for the purpose of private study/research at http://llc.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/20/4/383?ijkey=qSzadMJHz9MDsuS&keytype=ref]
- 2005b Indigenous Languages of Southeast Australia, Revitalization and the Role of Education. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics. 28(2): 1-14.
- 2005c Will Indigenous languages survive? Annual Review of Anthropology 34: 293-315.
- 2007 Australian Aboriginal song language – so many questions, so little to work with. Australian Aboriginal Studies (Special Issue edited by Allan Marett and Linda Barwick). 2007/2: 128-144.