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Dr Bethwyn Evans


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Personal profile


My main research focus is historical and comparative linguistics and how language can be a window on the linguistic and non-linguistic past. I am particularly interested in the ways in which historical linguistics, in conjunction with archaeology and population genetics, can tell us about the past of particular ethnolinguistic groups, as well as about the general processes and mechanisms of linguistic and social change.

My current research builds on a project that I began as part of the Max Planck Research Group on Comparative Population Linguistics (led by Brigitte Pakendorf) at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and explores the history of linguistic diversification and contact among Austronesian- and Papuan-speaking groups of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. A major part of this project is the documentation and description of several languages of southern Bougainville, including Nasioi, Torau and Nagovisi.


Research interests

Historical and contact linguistics, Austronesian and Papuan languages of Melanesia, language documentation and description, linguistic typology


BA (Hons), PhD (ANU)

Expertise Areas

  • Pacific Languages
  • Language in Culture and Society (Sociolinguistics)
  • Language in Time and Space (incl. Historical Linguistics, Dialectology)
  • Linguistic Structures (incl. Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics)


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