DR Ruth Singer

DR Ruth Singer




  • My current research focus is the sociolinguistics of multilingualism in a small but highly multilingual community in north-west Arnhem Land. I am also collaborating with Professor Nicholas Evans (ANU) on his project, Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity (2014-2018) and continue work with Janet Fletcher (MU) on intonation and information structure in Mawng, a language of north-west Arnhem Land.

    I began my research in Linguistics with PhD on the Australian Aboriginal language Mawng, focussing on the semantics of grammatical gender agreement and how this becomes lexicalised together with specific verb senses. While a postdoctoral fellow with the Language and Cognition group, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (Nijmegen, The Netherlands) and Radboud University (Nijmegen) I contributed to work on large-scale typological comparisons of languages of the Pacific. My research focus between 2008-2010 was expanding the Mawng dictionary database by doing research on traditional ethnobiological knowledge which has resulted in the publication of three bilingual posters about Shellfish, Fish and Plant Medicine. I also helped to document traditional songs sung by Mawng speakers during this time and researched kinship verbs and triangular kinship terms. In 2010 I taught at La Trobe University.

    Various publications and presentations can be accessed via academia.edu including unpublished manuscripts and forthcoming article

    I have been collecting data on the Mawng language since 2002. The details of my deposit in the ELAR archive can be viewed on the Mawng Dictionary Project web page. A fuller set of my Mawng materials has been archived in PARADISEC.



Member of

  • Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. Affiliate 2015 - 2026
  • Research Unit for Indigenous Language. staff member 2015 - 2023
  • Australian Linguistics Society. Member 2001 - 2020


Selected publications


Investigator on

Additional Grant Information

  • Current (funded) projects: What makes a multilingual community? The life of languages at Warruwi community Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, 2014-2017.
  • The wellsprings of linguistic diversity, Laureate Professorship awarded to Professor Nicholas Evans, ANU, 2014-2018. I am a research Research Fellow on this project, see for more info: http://chl.anu.edu.au/our-people/details/ruth-singer
  • Empowering Indigenous youth to create a comprehensive pan-varietal, ethnobiological, anthropological record of Kun-barlang through training in low-cost language documentation technology (2016-2019) (with Isabel O'Keeffe and Linda Barwick) Sydney University. Getting in touch: language and digital inclusion in Australian Indigenous communities (2013-2016) Melbourne Social Equity Institute, University of Melbourne. How do Indigenous communities use digital resources for Indigenous languages? (2015-2016), Faculty Research Grant, Arts Faculty University of Melbourne. Past (funded) projects: Indigenous Languages Support New Media Grant: 2014-2015 for work on an online resource for the Mawng language Endangered Languages Documentation Programme small grant 2014-2015: Varieties of Kun-barlang, a language on the edge: Towards a comprehensive documentation project   


Education and training

  • PhD, University of Melbourne 2007
  • BA/BSc (hons), University of Melbourne 2001


Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • I am currently only supervising topics that are closely related to my main research interests. Before contacting me regarding supervision, please read my research profile and look at some of my publications, to check that your topic is close to those that I research.