Dr Elisabeth Mayer

PhD Linguistics (ANU), MA Linguistics (ANU), MA Trans (French, Spanish, German) University of Innsbruck, Austria
Honorary Lecturer
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Iberian Languages 200308
  • Language In Time And Space (Incl. Historical Linguistics, Dialectology) 200406
  • Linguistic Structures (Incl. Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) 200408
  • Comparative Language Studies 200322
  • Linguistic Anthropology 160103
  • Migration 160303

Research interests

Romance languages, specifically Spanish and Portuguese; Latin American Indigenous languages, in particular Quechua, Ashaninka and Shipibo; Language contact, variation and change; First and second language acquisition; Fieldwork data and formal syntactic theory; Migration and dialectal variability – specifically in syntax, morphology, information structure and interfaces; Bilingualism / Multilingualism; Bilingual (Intercultural) Education and Language policies.


I am an Honorary Lecturer in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics. I retired from ANU at the beginning of 2020 but continue my research as an honorary staff member.  I hold a Master of Arts degree (2004) in Linguistics and a PhD in Linguistics (2011) from the Australian National University. Before joining the ANU I completed undergraduate and postgraduate studies of English and Romance Philology and European Ethnology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria (1974-1982). I also have a translator’s degree in Spanish, French and German from the same University. From 2016 -2023 I was National Chair of OzCLO, the Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiad (www.ozclo.org.au) and from 2016 to 2018, I served as the Director of ANCLAS (The Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies).

Awards and Grants
2017 COALAR GRANT (ANIP-ANCLAS) - CAP-CASS Collaboration Grant
2013 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Public Policy and Outreach
2012 National Teaching Award for Programs That Enhance Learning for the Spanish Program
1977 Grant for Excellency in Academic Performance University of Innsbruck, Austria

Researcher's projects

Current projects

  • Second Language Acquisition and Language Contact. Handbook for Routledge (with Liliana Sánchez, University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Contact, change and emerging DOM patterns in argument marking and clitic doubling in Perú and Argentina (with Liliana Sánchez, University of Illinois at Chicago and Pablo Zdrojewski, Universidad de Buenos Aires)
  • Language contact in theoretical syntax: the big DP hypothesis (with L. Sánchez and J. Camacho, University of Illinois at Chicago and Carolina Rodríguez Alzza, Pontificia Universidad del Peru)
  • Processing of pronominal coreference in ambiguous sentences: a comparative study between Brazilian Portuguese speakers and Australian English speakers (with Ana Luiza Machado, UFRJ, Brazil, PhD sanduiche funded by CAPES, Brazil)
  • Typological differences in Quechua-Spanish, Shipibo-Spanish and Ashaninka- Spanish Bilingual speech (with L. Sánchez and J. Camacho, University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Homelanguage maintenance and language rights for indigenous and tribal peoples in Peru (with L. Sánchez and J. Camacho, University of Illinois at Chicago and Carolina Rodríguez Alzza, Pontificia Universidad del Peru)

Past projects

  • ANIP-ANCLAS Migration project creating a national and international network based at ANU through ANIP and ANCLAS joining forces with the embassies and Australian government departments to learn about, and from, Latin American diasporas in Australia and abroad through an internship program for students from around Australia. Supported by a grant from DFAT’s Council on Australia Latin American Relations (COALAR) 2018-2019.
  • Language attitudes towards Shipibo-Konibo in urban and rural environments (with Liliana Sánchez and José Camacho, Rutgers University and University of Illinois, Chicago and Carolina Rodríguez Alzza, Pontificia Universidad del Peru)
  • Amazonian bilingual Portuguese and sustainable education access and language policies for indigenous communities (M. Maia and B. Franchetto, Federal University of Rio). Funded by a grant from the Brazil Reference Group Collaboration Scheme, ANU)
  • Education support (materials, training) for teachers intercultural biingual education in Peru (with L. Sánchez, Rutgers University; M. Blume and J. Pérez from the Catholic University, Lima)

Past student projects

PhD students
Ana Luiza Machado (2017-2021) PhD summa cum laude with University medal
PHD external panel member Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro:A Interface entre Sintaxe e Pragmática na Resolução de Ambiguidade Intrassentencial em Português Brasileiro e Inglês Australiano.(PhD sanduiche Brazil, funded by CAPES, August 2018-June 2019 at ANU)

Renato García González (2016 -2020) PhD summa com Laude and University medal.
PHD external panel member Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México: Doblado de clíticos o marcado de objeto de tercera persona en un dialecto subrepresentado del español. Una perspectiva minimalista

Matthew Callaghan, 2014 -2020
PhD, supervisor: Who are you in Chile? Variation and Change in Language and Society

International PhD Internships
Bojana Radosavljevic (September-December, 2017) graduated in 2021
Mención Internacional: external  research project  in conjunction with the University of Málaga, Spain. Semantic change of salient lexical terms in medieval documents about the expeditions of el Almirante de las Californias Don Isiro de Atondo y Antillón.

Ms Carolina Piñol (May-September 2015) graduated in 2020
Mención Internacional: external  reserach project  in conjunction with the University Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain. Elaborating a resource on Préstamos y anglicismos en la sección de economía de la prensa de Perú (English loanwords in economic terminology in Peruvian newspapers).

Master and Honours students
Muhammad Shohibussirri  (2014)
MA Linguistics: Information structure in Indonesian political discourse (graduated in December 2014)

Sarah Lattimore, 2017
Honours Linguistics/Hispanic Linguistics: A comparative analysis of indigenous bilingual education policy and practice in Australia and Peru. (graduated in December 2017 with First Class Honours)

Garry Earl-Spurr (2015)
Honours Hispanic Linguistics: The value and role of intercultural bilingual education for non-indigenous students in the Andean countries with a particular focus on Bolivia (graduated in December 2015 with First Class Honours)

Christina Greer (2013-2014)
Honours Hispanic Linguistics: The formation of the European Union and its effect upon the minority languages of Europe: A comparative case study on Basque and Catalan (graduated in December 2014)

Katie Peterson. 2012
Honours Applied Linguistics: Impacts of Bilingual Education Programmes on Quechua Language Attitudes in Peru (graduated in December 2012)


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