Dr Alex Francois


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Alex François has conducted fieldwork on a number of hitherto undescribed – and often endangered – Oceanic (Austronesian) languages from northern Vanuatu (Banks & Torres Islands) and eastern Solomon Islands. He works on the description and analysis of these languages, both in their typological and historical dimensions. Beyond linguistics, his projects also aim at documenting the oral literature, poetry and music of these communities, as well as supporting the maintenance of endangered languages. His current plans include writing a grammar of Hiw (Torres Is, Vanuatu) and one of Teanu (Vanikoro, Solomon Is).

François is the author of Araki: A disappearing language of Vanuatu (2002), and La Sémantique du Prédicat en Mwotlap (2003). In 2013, with ethnomusicologist Monika Stern, he published a selection of musical recordings from northern Vanuatu. He also coauthored with Jean-Michel Charpentier a major linguistic atlas of French Polynesia, released in 2015.

François’ permanent affiliation is with Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (Paris), in the department “LaTTiCe” (Langues, Textes, Traitements informatiques, Cognition).

Career highlights

  • Lecturer, Univ. Paris-3 Sorbonne Nouvelle (1999-2002).
  • Research Fellow (2002-18) at CNRS–LaCiTO (Langues et Civilisations à Tradition Orale, of French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique).
  • Visiting Fellow, Linguistics, CHL, ANU (2009-2012).
  • Head of Department (2015-18) at CNRS–LaCiTO.
  • Senior Researcher (2018– ) at CNRS–LaTTiCe (Langues, Textes, Traitements informatiques, Cognition, of French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique).

Research interests

  • Phonological systems and sound change
  • Typology of polysemy and lexical semantics
  • Pragmatics of face-to-face conversation
  • Historical linguistics
  • Language geography and areal phenomena
  • Language documentation
  • Grammar writing
  • Models of language diversification
  • Verbal art, folkloristics
  • Ethnomusicology


BA Hons (Paris), MA (Paris), PhD (Sorbonne, Paris), Habilitation (Paris)

Expertise Areas

  • Language in Culture and Society (Sociolinguistics)
  • Language in Time and Space (incl. Historical Linguistics, Dialectology)


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