Professor Catherine Travis

BA/AS (Hons) ANU, PhD La Trobe
Chair of Modern European Languages
College of Arts and 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 'Sydney Speaks' project, examining 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;, and the New Mexico Spanish-English codeswitching project, examining the Spanish of a bilingual community in New Mexico, USA (deriving from a project funded by the NSF;


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

2021-2023: “Language Data Commons Australia (LDaCA) – Australian Data Partnerships”, ARDC ($AUD500,000). Lead CI – Michael Haugh:

2014-2022: ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language ($AUD28 million). Lead CI - Nick Evans:
Project: "Sydney Speaks":

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). Lead CI - Jane Simpson:

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 areas related to the study of variation and change. I particularly welcome students who wish to join the Sydney Speaks project, but I am also available for supervison in areas related to Australian English more broadly, Australian community languages, language contact, and Hispanic Linguistics.

Current student projects

PhD theses, as Chair of Panel

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- )

MA thesis

Heba Bou Orm. Ethnolectal variation in Lebanese Australian English. (2021)


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.

Sze Tsui. 2020. Variation and change in the usage of written Cantonese in Hong Kong.

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.

Esther Lee. 2020. Quotatives in Australian English: Ethnicity and change over time.

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.

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

ANU PhD theses

Matthew Callaghan. 2020. Who are you?” in Chile: gauging variation and change in language and society.

Fariba Shirali. 2020. Disagreement in Persian academic discussions. (supervision 2019-2020)


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:  04 December 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers