Dr Elisabeth Mayer

PhD Linguistics (ANU), MA Linguistics (ANU), Dipl Trans (French, Spanish, German) University of Innsbruck, Austria
Lecturer (Spanish Studies), Convenor Portuguese
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 a Lecturer in the Spanish Program in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics, teaching Language and hispanic linguistic courses. I also coordinate the Portuguese language courses funded to a large extent by the Brazilian government through the Brazilian Embassy in Canberra and by an Endowment fund.  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 studied English and Romance Philology and European Ethnology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. I also have a translator’s degree in Spanish, French and German from the same University. Currently I am the National and ACT chair of OzCLO, the Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiad (www.ozclo.org.au) and Director of ANCLAS (The Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies) from 2016-2018.

I am a founding member of Romance Linguistics in the Antipodes (RomLA), a co-researcher with an international network investigating Andean Spanish (www.españoldelosandes.org), and member of the American Association of Linguistics and Philology (ALFAL), the Australian Linguistic Society (ALS), the Centre of Research on Language Change (CRLC), the Lexical-Functional Grammar Association (ILFGA), the Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies (ANCLAS), the Australian National Centre for European Studies (ANUCES), and the Association of Iberian and Latin American Studies of Australasia (AILASA).

My research on monolingual and bilingual Andean and Amazonian Spanish is based on extensive fieldwork in demographically and sociologically divergent parts of the Peruvian capital Lima, in rural communities in the deep Andean mountains and in several Ashaninka Campa communities along the Eastern Foothills of the Andean Mountains, reaching into the Peruvian Amazon basin crossing borders into the Brazilian Amazon.

Researcher's projects

Current projects

  • 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, Rutgers University)
  • Fieldwork methods and computational modelling of results from a theoretical perspective (with L. Sánchez and J. Camacho,  Rutgers University, and T M Ellison, The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity, CoEDL)
  • Methods of revitalization and maintenance of (Andean and Amazonian) indigenous languages (with TM Ellison (The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity, CoEDL; L. Sánchez and J Camacho,  Rutgers University, M Maia, Federal State University of Rio; Luis Camacho Caballero, Catholic University, Lima; C Chirisente, Ministry of Environment, Peru; D Marmion, AIATSIS and B Franchetto FUNAI, Museo do Indio, Rio)
  • 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)

Available student projects

I welcome student projects in any of my research interests as listed above. I am particularly interested in studies on structural variability in non-standardized languages or dialects based on data collected in fieldwork.  I am also interested in language policies in relation to Intercultural Bilingual Education mainly across Latin America and Spain, but also more generally.

Current student projects

Ana Luiza Machado, August 2018-June 2019
"Investigating the processing of pronominal coreference in ambiguous sentences: a comparative study between Brazilian Portuguese speakers and Australian English speakers" (PhD sanduiche Brazil, funded by CAPES)

Matthew Callaghan, 2014 -
"Who are you in Chile? Variation and Change in Language and Society"  (PhD, supervisor)

Past student projects

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)

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

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)

International PhD Internships
Bojana Radosavljevic (September-December, 2017)
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)
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).


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Updated:  11 December 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers