Dr Felicity Meakins

ARC DECRA Snr Research Fellow

School of Languages and Cultures
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+61 7 336 53114


Aboriginal languages, morphology, languages in contact, pidgin and creole languages

I studied at the University of Queensland between 1995-2001. Between 2001-04, I worked as a community linguist at Diwurruwurru-jaru Aboriginal Corporation (Katherine Regional Aboriginal Language Centre), producing language resources and facilitating revitalisation programs for Bilinarra and Ngarinyman people. During this time I became interested in new Australian languages, particularly Gurindji Kriol.

I joined the Aboriginal Child Language project (University of Melbourne) in 2004 as a PhD student. I completed my PhD in 2008 and continued documenting Gurindji, Bilinarra and Gurindji Kriol as a part of the Jaminjungan and Eastern Ngumpin DOBES project, then with my own ELDP grant at the University of Manchester and finally returned to UQ with an ARC APD. I currently hold a DECRA and an ARC DP which focus on language evolution and contact processes in Gurindji and Mudburra.

I am the author of Case-Marking in Contact (Benjamins, 2011), Bilinarra to English Dictionary (Batchelor Press, 2013) and a co-author of A Grammar of Bilinarra (Mouton, 2013, with Rachel Nordlinger), Gurindji to English Dictionary (Batchelor Press, 2013 with Patrick McConvell, Erika Charola, Norm McNair, Helen McNair and Lauren Campbell) and Bilinarra, Gurindji and Malngin Plants and Animals (LRM, 2012 with Glenn Wightman).

All of this work has been the result of fieldwork over the last 15 years in the Victoria River District of the Northern Territory (Australia).

Research Interests

  • Language documentation, including fieldwork methodology, annotation of corpus data and the structure of reference grammars
  • Sociolinguistics, e.g. language ecologies, endangerment and shift, variationalist approaches
  • Morphology, particularly morphology in contact
  • Australian languages, including Gurindji, Gurindji Kriol, Bilinarra, Ngarinyman and Kriol
  • Language contact, particularly mixed languages, creole languages, code-switching and language convergence


  • Master of Arts, The University of Queensland
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Melbourne
  • Bachelor of Arts (Hons), The University of Queensland


View all Publications


View all Grants


  • Master Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Master Philosophy

View all Supervision


Featured Publications


Book Chapter

  • O'Shannessy, Carmel and Meakins, Felicity (2016). Australian language contact in historical and synchronic perspective. In Felicity Meakins and Carmel O'Shannessy (Ed.), Loss and renewal: Australian languages since colonisation (pp. 3-26) Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter Mouton.

  • Meakins, Felicity and Pensalfini, Rob (2016). Gender bender: Disagreement in Jingulu noun class marking. In Felicity Meakins and Carmel O'Shannessy (Ed.), Loss and Renewal: Australian Languages Since Colonisation (pp. 425-450) Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter Mouton.

  • Meakins, Felicity (2016). No fixed address: The grammaticalisation of the Gurindji locative as a progressive suffix. In Meakins, Felicity and O'Shannessy, Carmel (Ed.), Loss and Renewal: Australian Languages Since Colonisation (pp. 367-396) Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter Mouton.

  • Meakins, Felicity (2015). From absolutely optional to only nominally ergative: the life cycle of the Gurindji ergative suffix. In Francesco Gardani, Peter Arkadiev and Nino Amiridze (Ed.), Borrowed morphology (pp. 189-218) Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter. doi:10.1515/9781614513209.189

  • Meakins, Felicity (2014). Language contact varieties. In Harold Koch and Rachel Nordlinger (Ed.), The languages and linguistics of Australia: a comprehensive guide (pp. 365-416) Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter Mouton. doi:10.1515/9783110279771.365

  • Meakins, Felicity (2014). Nominals as arguments or adjuncts: further evidence from language mixing. In Rob Pensalfini, Myfany Turpin and Diana Guillemin (Ed.), Language description informed by theory (pp. 283-315) Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing. doi:10.1075/slcs.147

  • Meakins, Felicity (2013). Gurindji Kriol. In Susanne Michaelis, Philippe Maurer, Martin Haspelmath and Magnus Huber (Ed.), Contact languages based on languages from Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas (pp. 131-139) Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

  • Schultze-Berndt, Eva, Meakins, Felicity and Angelo, Denise (2013). Kriol. In Susanne Michaelis, Philippe Maurer, Martin Haspelmath and Magnus Huber (Ed.), English-Based and Dutch-Based Languages (pp. 241-251) Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

  • Meakins, Felicity (2013). Mixed languages. In Peter Bakker and Yaron Matras (Ed.), Contact languages: a comprehensive guide (pp. 159-228) Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter Mouton.

  • Meakins, Felicity (2010). The importance of understanding language ecologies for revitalisation. In John Hobson, Kevin Lowe, Susan Poetsch and Michael Walsh (Ed.), Reawakening languages: Theory and practice in the revitalisation of Australia's Indigenous languages (pp. 225-239) Sydney, Australia: Sydney University Press.

  • Meakins, Felicity (2009). The case of the shifty ergative marker: A pragmatic shift in the ergative marker in one Australian mixed language. In J. Barddal and S. Chelliah (Ed.), The Role of Semantic, Pragmatic, and Discourse Factors in the Development of Case (pp. 59-91) Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins.

  • Meakins, Felicity (2008). Land, language and identity: The socio-political origins of Gurindji Kriol. In Miriam Meyerhoff and Naomi Nagy (Ed.), Social lives in language - sociolinguistics and multilingual speech communities : celebrating the work of Gillian Sankoff (pp. 69-94) Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins.

  • Meakins, Felicity (2008). Unravelling languages: Multilingualism and language contact in Kalkaringi. In Jane Simpson and Gillian Wigglesworth (Ed.), Children's language and multilingualism: Indigenous language use at home and school (pp. 283-302) London, U.K.: Continuum.

Journal Article

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Master Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors: