Professor Catherine Travis

BA/AS (Hons) ANU, PhD La Trobe
Chair of Modern European Languages
ANU 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 'Voices of Regional Australia', examining regional Australian English using data from bushfire stories (funded by an ARC DP); the 'Sydney Speaks' project, examining variation and change in English spoken in Sydney, by diverse communities including migrant communities (funded as part of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language;; the Language Data Commons of Australia project, which is building digital infrastructure for the Humanities (funded through the ARDC,; 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 Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. She holds a Bachelor of Asian Studies with First Class Honours 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

2023-2026: "Voices of regional Australia". ARC DP ($350,000)

2021-2024: “Language Data Commons Australia (LDaCA) – HASS RDC”, ARDC . Lead CI – Michael Haugh:

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

Past Grants

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

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 sociolinguistics, and the study of variation and change. I particularly welcome students who would like to contribute to the 'Voices of Regional Australia' or 'Sydney Speaks' projects, but I am also available for supervision 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

Heba Bou Orm. Language and identity among Lebanese youth (2022-)

Past student projects

(As primary supervisor)

ANU PhD theses

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

Gan Qiao. 2024. Ethnic variation in its social context: Evidence from the English of Chinese Australians.

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

Elena Sheard. 2023. Explaining language change over the lifespan: A panel and trend analysis of Australian English.

ANU MA theses

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

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.

Marcel Reverter-Rambaldi. 2020. Topic modelling in spontaneous speech data.

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

University of New Mexico 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'.)

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’).

Jenny Dumont. 2011. Full NPs in conversations and narratives: The effects of genre on information flow and interaction.

Mami McCraw. 2010. First-person singular pronouns and ellipsis in Japanese.

Daniel Sanford. 2010. Frequency and figuration: A usage-based approach to metaphor. 

Agripino Silveira. 2011. Frequency effects and specialization of forms in pronominal expression in Brazilian Portuguese.

Damian Vergara Wilson. 2009. From ‘remaining’ to ‘becoming’: A diachronic usage-based approach to the expression of ‘becoming’: quedar(se) + adjective.


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:  23 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers