Dr Kari Sullivan

Senior Lecturer

School of Languages and Cultures
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+61 7 336 52268


Human beings can communicate complex ideas using only a few words. We all share cognitive tools, such as metaphor, that allow us to activate complex meanings in other people's minds using language. My research focuses on how these cognitive tools are tied to linguistic forms, such as specific words and grammar. One of the ways I examine the relation between cognition and language is to compare language and non-linguistic communication, particularly the visual arts, as in my award-winning paper The Languages of Art and other publications. My 2013 book Frames and Constructions in Metaphoric Language examines how grammar helps us to communicate metaphor. I’m also interested in connections between (central) non-metaphoric senses and (extended) metaphoric senses in different languages.


  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Oregon, USA
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley
  • Master in Arts, University of California, Berkeley


View all Publications


View all Grants


Featured Publications


Book Chapter

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Sullivan, Karen (2007). Lexical filledness and metaphor in idioms. First Nordic Conference on Syntactic Freezes, Joensuu, Finland, 19-20 May 2006. Joensuu, Finland: Joensuu University Press.

  • Sullivan, Karen (2006). Frame-based constraints on lexical choice in metaphor. 32nd Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, Berkeley, CA, U.S.A., 10-12 February 2006. Berkeley, CA, U.S.A.: Berkeley Linguistics Society.

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision