Professor Nicholas (‘Nick’) Evans is the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. His central research focus is the diversity of human language and what this can tell us about the nature of language, culture, deep history, and the possibilities of the human mind. He is especially interested in the ongoing dialectic between primary documentation of little-known languages, and induction from these to more general questions about the nature of language. His book Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us sets out a broad program for the field’s engagement with the planet’s dwindling linguistic diversity.
Nick has carried out fieldwork on several languages of Northern Australia and Papua New Guinea, particularly Kayardild, Bininj Gun-wok, Dalabon, Ilgar, Iwaidja, Marrku and Nen, with published grammars of Kayardild (1995) and Bininj Gun-wok (2003), and dictionaries of Kayardild (1992) and Dalabon (2004). Among his many (co)edited volumes, one on The Dynamics of Insubordination (with Honoré Watanabe; John Benjamins) and The Oxford Handbook of Polysynthesis (with Michael Fortescue and Marianne Mithun).
Currently, Nick is collecting data from the diverse and little-studied region of Southern New Guinea. His ARC Laureate Project The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity examines how microvariation at speech community level relates to macro-diversity of languages and language families, and he is leading a team in a cross-linguistic study of how diverse grammars underpin social cognition.