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The Australian National University

Dr Elisabeth Mayer

PhD Linguistics (ANU), MA Linguistics (ANU), Dipl Trans (French, Spanish, German) Innsbruck, Austria
Lecturer (Spanish Studies), Convenor Portuguese, Director ANCLAS
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

Research interests

Romance languages, specifically Spanish and Andean Spanish, language contact, variability and change, migration and dialect variability specifically in syntax, morphology, information structure and interfaces, bilingualism / multilingualism, language and dialect acquisition, fieldwork data and formal theory.


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 chair of OzCLO, the Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiad ( and Director of ANCLAS (The Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies).

I am a founding member of Romance Linguistics in the Antipodes (RomLA), a co-researcher with an international network investigating Andean Spanish (www.españ, and member of the Linguistics and Philological Association of Latinamerica (ALFAL), the Australian Linguistic Society (ALS), the Centre of Research on Language Change (CRLC), and the Lexical-Functional Grammar Association (ILFGA).

My research on morphosyntactic variability in 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

  • Typological differences in 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 M. Ellison, The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity, CoEDL)
  • Methods of revitalization and maintenance of Andean and Amazonian indigenous languages (with L. Sánchez and J Camacho,  Rutgers University, Mark; Luis Camacho Caballero, Catholic University, Lima; and T.M. Ellison (The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity, CoEDL)
  • Amazonian bilingual Portuguese and sustainable education access and language policies for indigeneous 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)
  • The acquisition of Spanish copulae by first and second language learners: An experimental approach (with S Eisenchlas, Griffith University QLD and C Holtheuer, CIAE, Chile)

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

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

Sarah Lattimore, 2017
"Intercultural Bilingual Education in Peru" (Honours Linguistics/Hispanic Linguistics)

Past student projects

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 Hounours)

Ms Carolina Piñol (May-September 2015)
PhD internship 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).

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)


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Updated:  15 December 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers