Professor Catherine Travis

BA/AS (Hons) ANU, PhD La Trobe
Chair of Modern European Languages
College Arts & Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Linguistics 2004
  • Language In Culture And Society (Sociolinguistics) 200405
  • Language In Time And Space (Incl. Historical Linguistics, Dialectology) 200406
  • Linguistic Structures (Incl. Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) 200408
  • Iberian Languages 200308

Research interests

Catherine’s research interests lie in questions related to the ways in which linguistic and social factors impact on language variation and change. She works within the variationist framework, and addresses these questions through the study of the spontaneous spoken language of members of well-defined speech communities. Her primary current research projects include the Spanish of a bilingual community in New Mexico, USA (deriving from a project funded by the NSF), and variation and change in English spoken in Sydney, by diverse communities including migrant communities (as part of the ARC funded Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language).


Catherine Travis is Professor of Modern European Languages in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics at the ANU, and a Chief Investigator in the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. She holds a Bachelor of  Asian Studies with First Class Honors in Linguistics and Japanese from the ANU, and a PhD in Linguistics and Spanish from La Trobe University (2002). She came to the ANU in 2012 from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA, where she worked for 10 years. She is a NAATI certified translator, Spanish-English.

Researcher's projects

Current Grants

2020-2022: "Capacity Building in Computational Linguistics", Australian Signals Directorate ($226,000)

2014-2021: ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language ($AUD28 million).

Past Grants

2019: "Accented Australian English for Acoustic Modelling", Defence Science and Technology Group ($AUD65,000)

2014-2016: "A national language studies portal for Australian universities", Office of Learning and Teaching ($AUD300,000).

2010-2013: "Evaluating convergence via code-switching: Cross-linguistic priming, rates and the structure of subject expression" ( (National Science Foundation BCS 1019112/1019122 [2010-2013]) Co-Investigator: Rena Torres Cacoullos (The Pennsylvania State University) ($US270,000)

Available student projects

I am interested in supervising work in any of the areas of research interest listed above.
In particular, I would look forward to being involved in projects related to the quantitative study of variation and change in Australian English, in an Australian community language, or in other settings (including contact and monolingual contexts).

Current student projects

PhD theses, as Chair of Panel

Matthew Callaghan. Who are you?” in Chile: gauging variation and change in language and society. (2014- )

Gan Qiao. Language Use and Ethnic Identity: Evidence from Australian English by Second Generation Migrants from China. (2019- )

Elena Sheard. Language and social change over the lifespan: Speakers of Australian English forty years on (2019- )

Fariba Shirali. Disagreement in Persian academic discussions (supervision commenced: 2019)

ANU MA theses

Sze Tsui. Variation and change in the usage of written Cantonese in Hong Kong. (2019- )

ANU Honours theses

Esther Lee. Quotatives in Australian English: Ethnicity and change over time. (2019- )

Amy Sanson. Automated topic segmentation of Sydney Speaks dialogues for enhanced linguistic analysis (2020- )

Past student projects

(As primary supervisor)

ANU MA theses

Inas Ghina. 2019. (t) Glottalization in Acehnese Language Varieties.

Li Nguyen. 2016. Incorporated kin terms, bilingual speakers: A corpus-based study of Vietnamese kin terms as personal reference in bilingual speech.

Shuyu Zhang. 2015. Who am I when I say I speak Chinese? Ethnic Orientation and Heritage Language in Second-Generation Chinese Australians. Austrlaian National University.

ANU Honours theses

Kiya Alimoradian. 2012. “Makes me feel more Aussie”: Ethnic identity and the use of mate by Australians from a non-English speaking background. Australian National University.

Bonnie Mclean. 2019. Ideophones in space and time: a look at Japonic.

Jennifer Plaistowe. 2015. Coordinated code-switching: A study of interactive alignment in bilingual conversation. Australian National University.

PhD theses

Sonia Balasch. 2011. Estudio sociolingüístico de la marca diferencial de objeto directo (DOM) en dos variedades del español contemporáneo (‘A sociolinguistic study of Differential Object Marking in two contemporary varieites of Spanish'). University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Current position: Adjunct Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, the University of Montana, Missoula.

Manuel Burgos. 2013. El conflicto armado a través de El Tiempo: Análisis discursivo de los reportes de guerra en la prensa colombiana (1998-2008) (‘The armed conflict through El Tiempo: A discourse analysis of war reports in the Colombian Press’). Department of Spanish & Portuguese. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Current position: Lecturer, Department of Spanish and Portuguese. New York University

Jenny Dumont. 2011. Full NPs in conversations and narratives: The effects of genre on information flow and interaction. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA.
Current position: Assistant professor, Department of Spanish, Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania.

Mami McCraw. 2010. First-person singular pronouns and ellipsis in Japanese. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Daniel Sanford. 2010. Frequency and figuration: A usage-based approach to metaphor. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Current position: Senior Program Manager, Centre for Academic Program Support, University of New Mexico.

Agripino Silveira. 2011. Frequency effects and specialization of forms in pronominal expression in Brazilian Portuguese. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA.
Current position: Lecturer, Language Center. Stanford University, California.

Damian Vergara Wilson. 2009. From ‘remaining’ to ‘becoming’: A diachronic usage-based approach to the expression of ‘becoming’: quedar(se) + adjective. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Current position: Assistant Professor, Department of Spanish & Portuguese, University of New Mexico.


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  20 October 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers