Dr Carmel O'Shannessy

PhD., M.A., Post grad Dip., Dip Teach
Lecturer in Linguistics, SLLL
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Linguistics 2004
  • Linguistic Structures (Incl. Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) 200408
  • Language In Culture And Society (Sociolinguistics) 200405
  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Languages 200319

Research interests

Language contact and change, language acquisition, bilingualism, sociolinguistics, code-switching, mixed languages, Australian languages, endangered languages


Carmel O’Shannessy is a Lecturer in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics at the Australian National University. In the 1990s her background as an ESL teacher and Applied Linguist took her to work in remote Indigenous schools in Australia’s Northern Territory, in the areas of Indigenous language maintenance and education. While working in the Warlpiri-English bilingual education program in the Warlpiri community of Lajamanu she noticed what sounded like extensive code-switching by younger speakers, and with the community’s approval was keen to investigate how young people were speaking. She subsequently completed her PhD in Linguistics at the University of Sydney (Australia) and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (The Netherlands) in 2007, with documentation of the genesis and development of Light Warlpiri, a mixed language that had recently emerged in the community. Within the areas of language contact and change and language acquisition, her research continues to document children’s bilingual acquisition and maintenance of Light Warlpiri and Warlpiri. She is especially interested in the roles of children and adults in contact-induced language change. She also documents traditional Warlpiri songs. Carmel has been involved with languages in remote Indigenous communities in Australia since 1996, in the areas of bilingual education and her current research. 

Link to personal webpage: https://sites.google.com/view/carmeloshannessyanuhomepage/home?authuser=0

Researcher's projects

PI (Principal Investigator) on USA National Science Foundation Project/Grant #1348013  ‘Documentation and acquisition of Light Warlpiri and Warlpiri’.  Duration 2015-2019 

ANU Futures Scheme grant 2018 for 'Language Contact and Acquisition'

Available student projects

Aspects of acquisition of Light Warlpiri

Aspects of documentation of Light Warlpiri and Warlpiri

Phonology of Light Warlpiri, Warlpiri and English spoken by Light Warlpiri speakers

Current student projects

PhD student Emma Browne is working on language acquisition, negotiation and use in multilingual classrooms of remote central Australia.

PhD student Susan Poetsch is working on children's Arrernte in Central Australia. 

Past student projects


2013 Erica Beck: The Role of Socio-indexical Information in Regional Accent Discrimination by 5-7 Year Old Children

Committee member: 2010 Christopher V. Odato: Children's Development of Knowledge and Beliefs About English Like(s) 


Qualifying Research Papers (QRP) (equivalent to a Masters Thesis)

2016 Ariana Bancu: Contact-induced variaion in Viscri Saxon verb clusters 

2015 David Ogden: The effects of experience on second-language consonant detection: Non-native vowel context speeds identification of non-native consonant categories

2012 Tridha Chatterjee: Bilingual compound verbs in Bengali-English codeswitching

Masters theses

2018 Xiaoyue Yang: A corpus-based study on Mandarin child-directed speech



Undergraduate Honors theses

2014 Gabrielle Valentic: The Influences ofTeacher Multilingual Linguistic Response of Spanish-English Bilingual Student Linguistic Output

2013 Frances Morton: The Sex Trade: Language Ideology Behind "Sex Work" and "Sex Trafficking"

2013 Julia Bogen (2nd reader): Corrective feedback in L2 learning

2012 Amy Hemmeter: Gender and Formality Effects on the Production of Vocal Fry



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Updated:  17 July 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers