Dr Francesco De Toni

Research Fellow, Institute for Communication in Health Care
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Discourse And Pragmatics 470405
  • Computational Linguistics 470403
  • Corpus Linguistics 470404
  • Sociolinguistics 470411
  • Applied Linguistics And Educational Linguistics 470401
  • Historical, Comparative And Typological Linguistics 470406
  • Other Health Sciences 4299

Research interests

Pragmatics, language and health, language and emotion, computational linguistics, natural language processing, language change.


I am a linguist, working across the areas of language and society, language and health, and computational linguistics.

I completed a PhD at The University of Western Australia, with a thesis in Italian and Spanish historical linguistics. My PhD project investigated the role of language in maintaining personal and political friendship networks through letter writing in colonial Australia.

In 2020, I was awarded a Marie-Sklodowska Curie Individual Fellowship at Stockholm UNiversity with a project called ELICIT – Emotion Language in Italian: Change in Texts and time. The project investigates the evolution of linguistic emotional expression in Italian over a period of 250 years, focusing on the contribution of intralinguistic and extralinguistic (cultural) determinants of linguistic change. To conduct this analysis, the project leverages methods from corpus lingusitics and computaitonal linguistics / Natural Language Processing, which are combined with theoretical approaches from pragmatics, systemic functional lingusitics and the history of emotions.

Since 2021, I have been leading a project in health communication (HEAL'D – Health Emotions in Australia: Language and Discourse), in collaboration with researchers in the School of Humanities, the Medical School, the School of Allied Health and the School of Linguistics at UWA. Combining both corpus-based methods and qualitative studies, the project investigates the role of emotions in health-related communication in Australia, with the objective of improving the quality of health care, the well-being of Australia’s diverse communities, and the training of health care professionals.

In 2021-2022 I was also core collaborator in the BigScience research workshop (bigscience.huggingface.co), which is an international year-long open scientific project across academia and industry to develop large-scale and accessible machine-learning models for Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence.

I am now a Research Fellow at the Institute for Communication in Health Care of the Australian National University, where I am studying the impact of communication on the heal literacy and health-outcomes of patients with health failures. I am also a Senior Project Officer for the Western Australian Department of Health, where I am leading the implementation of voice-to-text digital scribes for clinical documentation.

Researcher's projects

Improving communication to enhance patients’ health literacy, empowerment, and self-management of heart failure

FAKES – Fake News in Social Media: Three Case Studies: Populism, Covdi and Climate Change (led by the University of Granada, Spain)

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Updated:  16 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers