When Professor Sasha Aikhenvald was working in the East Sepik province of New Guinea she was fascinated to discover that the asset most prized by the people of the province was their name. In East Sepik, her name was important and valuable, but when she wanted to enrol in the classics department of Moscow State University in the old Soviet Union, her Jewish surname made her unacceptable.

Instead she chose linguistics for its mathematical rhythms, crossword puzzle complexities and cultural idiosyncrasies. The decision was the catalyst for a prolific body of research that included Berber languages of North Africa and Hebrew but focused on tropical languages, predominantly those of Amazonia, the Papuan languages of New Guinea and Aboriginal Australia.

  • The relationship between language and culture, and the ways in which language reflects cultural stereotypes
  • Languages and cultures of Papua New Guinea, with a special focus on the Manambu language and the Ndu language family, from the East Sepik Province
  • Language and cultures of Lowland Amazonia, focussing on languages from Arawak family, the largest familyspanning South and Central America, in particular Tariana, Bare, (Warekena of Xie and Baniwa of Icana
  • The way languages influence each other in language contact, with a particular focus on language contact in Amazonia, and in the Sepik River Basin
  • Analysis of categories of human languages, including classifiers and genders, the ways in which languages express information source, serial verbs, and many more
Research Disciplines
  • 2015 - Fellow of Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2008 - Honorary member of Linguistic Society of America
  • 1999 - Fellow of the Academy of the Humanities
  • 2010 to 2013 - Alexander von Humboldt Research Award

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters

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These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • A Grammar of the Brokpa Language (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • A Comprehensive Grammar of Tiang (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • The Hmong language of North Queensland (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • My journey towards language: An Autoethnography of Wakka Wakka Reclamation (Masters , Secondary Advisor)
  • A Comprehensive Grammar of Doromu-Koki (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit Research Data Australia.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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