Prof I Wayan Arka


Research activity per year

Personal profile


My contributions to linguistics have spanned different sub-disciplines: from theoretical, formal and computational grammar, to typology and descriptive and documentary linguistics. All of my projects involve international collaborations with institutions in Australia, Indonesia, the UK, US and NZ, and locally with language communities.

My research aims to generate a deep understanding of how grammar works, and to investigate how it can be explicitly modelled so as to produce a precise, empirically well-motivated description or analysis with theoretical, typological, and practical significance. I have immersed myself in linguistic theory, typology, and descriptive and documentary linguistics, with particular focus on the numerous and diverse languages of Indonesia. I have also cultivated skills in corpus development and  data management. 

My theoretical work is mainly within the Lexical-Functional Grammar  framework. My work in this area includes implementing LFG on Indonesian languages, outlining the challenges this poses and developing an LFG-based computational grammar of Indonesian. Funded by a grant from the Indonesian government, I have examined the core properties of eastern Indonesian languages, including Papuan languages. With a follow-up NSF project (2007-2009), I have demonstrated the theoretical implications of the Austronesian voice system in eastern Indonesia, highlighting its gradual demise (Arka, 2009). With grants from the ARC and ELDP, I recently work on the Papuan languages of Merauke and have published papers on a range of topics; e.g, discussing the unusual complexity of the number system in Marori and the possible far-reaching implications it has in linguistic theory. 

I have done fieldwork in remote parts of eastern Indonesia, organising training in Indonesia as part of my capacity-building efforts in Indonesia.

Career Highlights

  • Head of Linguistics Program, CHL, CAP (2014 - Feb 2021)
  • Convenor of BAS (Bachelor of Asian Studies) (2018 - 2021)
  • Postdoc Fellow (2001), Research Fellow (2004), Fellow (2008), Senior Fellow/Asc Professor (2015), Professor (2021), Linguistics, CHL, CAP, ANU
  • Humboldt Fellow, Cologne University, Germany (2012-2014)
  • Research Fellow, IIAS, Leiden U, the Netherlands (2006)
  • Lecturer, Udayana University, Indonesia (1986-...).

Available student projects

I am Chair of the Supervisory Committees of the following PhD students (CAP, ANU):

  • Aarin Tirza Sirima. PhD thesis: Middles in Austronesian languages. 
  • Li-Chen Yeh. PhD thesis: From obsolescence to revival: Kaxabu-Pazeh and Southern Min in Contact situation. 
  • Naijing Liu. PhD thesis: Lexical and prosodic phonology: Tsum and Tianjin.
  • Yustinus Ghanggo Ate. PhD Thesis: A Grammar of Kodi, An Austronesian Language of Sumba Island, eastern Indonesia

I am a member of the Supervisory Committees of these PhD students:

  • Kristina Gallego. PhD thesis:Consequences of contact: examining the case of Ibatan Babuyan and Ilokano.
  • Jirat Hiranras. PhD thesis:Reciprocals in Thai.


Research interests

Austronesian and Papuan languages of Eastern Indonesia, language typology, syntactic theory, Indonesian linguistics, Applied Linguistics, language documentation, translation, sociolinguistics and anthropological linguistics.

I incorporate my latest research into my teaching. The courses that I teach at the ANU include Syntactic theory/Advanced Morphosyntax, Indonesian (across different levels), Introduction to syntax, Graduate reading course, Morphology, Austronesian languages, and Interdisciplinary Linguistics

Past student projects

I was Chair of the Supervisory Committees of the following former  students in CAP, ANU:

  • Antoinette Schapper. Graduated 2010. PhD thesis: Bunaq: A Papuan Language of Central Timor. She's the ALT Panini Award winner, now working at Leiden University.
  • Meladel Mistica. Graduated in 2013. PhD thesis: An Investigation into Deviant Morphology: Issues in the Implementation of a Deep grammar for Indonesian. She's now working in Intel Corp, the US.
  • Sebastien Lacampre. Graduated in 2014. PhD thesis: Lelepa: topics in the grammar of a Vanuatu Language. He is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at CoEDL, U of Melbourne.
  • Matthew Carroll. Graduated in 2017. PhD thesis: Sub-Paradigmatic Autonomy: A study of distributed exponence in Ngkolmpu.
  • Yusuf Sawaki. Graduated in 2017. PhD thesis: A grammar of Wooi (an Austronesian language of west Papua, Indonesia).
  • Xueqing Zhong. Graduated 2019. PhD thesis: Rescuing a language from extinction: practical steps with the community for revitalisation of the Western Yugur language.
  • Tina Gregor. Graduated 2020. PhD thesis: A Documentation and Description of Yelmek (a Papuan language of Southern New Guinea).
  • Chris Weedall.  Graduated 2021. PhD thesis: A Grammar of Sajolang.
  • Thersia Tamelan.  Graduated 2021. PhD thesis: A grammar of Dela, an Austronesian language of eastern Indonesia.

I was a member of the Supervisory Committees of the following former  students:

  • Maia Ponsonnet. Graduated in 2014, CAP-ANU; now a DECRA Fellow at the University of Sydney.
  • Subhan (CASS, ANU) Graduated in 2013.
  • Ira Amstrong (CASS, ANU)
  • Christian Doehler (CAP, ANU). Graduated in 2016. PhD thesis: A Grammar of Kómnjo.
  • Owen Edwards (CAP, ANU). Graduated in 2017. PhD thesis: Metathesis in Uab Meto.
  • Tom Honeyman  (CAP, ANU). Graduated in 2017. PhD thesis: A grammar of Momu, a language of PNG.
  • David Muljadi (NTU, Singapore). PhD thesis: An Indonesian Resource Grammar (INDRA) in the Framework of Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) and Its Application for Machine Translation.
  • Ari Natarina (University of Iowa, US). PhD thesis: Complementation in Balinese.


MA (Applied Linguistics), MPhil (Linguistics, Sydney U), PhD (Linguistics, Sydney U)

Researcher's projects

Research grants & fellowship awards (selected in the past 10 years)

  • 2023-2026. "Barrier Islands Project: an extension project building on the Enggano Project", CI I Wayan Arka, in collaboration with Bernd Nothofer and Simon Greenhill, AUD $503,363.
  • 2023-2024. “Lexical resources for Enggano, a threatened language of Indonesia”, Nov 2022-Oct 2024, (CI with M. Dalrymple Oxford University and Bernd Nothofer Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main), funded by the AHRC for two years (GBP 257,459) or AUD 460,000.
  • 2019-2022.  Enggano in the Austronesian family: historical and typological perspectives (CI with M. Dalrymple Oxford University and Bernd Nothofer Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main), funded by the  UK AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), GBP 465,904 (or AUD 850,989).

  • 2018-2019. Documentation of Enggano (CI with Mary Dalrymple, Oxford University). Language Legacies Grant Program, Endangered Language Fund.
  • March-June 2017. The Papuan and Austronesian languages of eastern Indonesia, part of the project on Constructing a research network for documenting minority languages in and around Indonesia. Co-CI with A/Prof. Asako Shiohara, funded by TUFS, Visiting Professor Fellowship.
  • 2012-2014. The Austronesian Languages of Flores: from Language Description to Linguistic Theory, Georg Forster Humboldt Fellowship (CI), based at the Department of Linguistics, the University of Cologne; funded by Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, $47307
  • 2011-2015. Languages of Southern New Guinea (co-CI with Nick Evans (ANU) and Jeff Siegel (University of New England), funded by ARC Discovery Grant, A$405,000.
  • 2012.  Plurals in the languages of Indonesia (CI) RSAP Small Grant, A$4920.

Professional  service (selected)

  • 2013-2014. Chair (elected), Executive Committee, International Lexical-Functional Grammar Association (
  • 2011-2014. Regional Director for Indonesia, the Catalogue of Endangered Languages (ELCat).
  • 2008-2011. Managing Editor, Pacific Linguistics
  • 2008- now. Member, Editorial Board, (Asia-)Pacific Linguistics
  • 2007-2011. Panel member (invited), the Panel of the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP), School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
  • Reviewer (invited), grant applications: Research Grant Council, Hong Kong (2013), National Geographic, US (2012), the Leverhulme Turst, London (2010, 2012), the Documenting Endangered Languages (DEL) Program and Linguistics Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF), US (January 2010, December 2008, December 2005); Assessor (invited), ARC (Australian Research Council) (every year since May 2007—present); Endangered Language Documentation Programme (ELDP) (November 2004, and every year since 2008—present).

Evidence of impact

I have been invited as a keynote/plenary speaker at 18 international/national linguistics meetings, including the following (selected):

  • September 2019, ICAPaW (International Conference on the Austronesian and Papuan Worlds), Udayana University, Bali-Indonesia 6-8 September 2019 (
  • July 2018, Keynote Speaker, the 14-ICAL (International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics), Antananarivo, Madagascar, 17-20 July 2018.
  • November 2015: Keynote Speaker, the International Conference on Language, Society and Culture, Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (LIPI, or Indonesian Academy of Sciences), Jakarta.
  • August 2015: Keynote speaker, the 22nd International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 10-14 August 2015,
  • May 2015: Keynote Speaker, the 22nd International Conference of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association, McGill University, Canada, 21-24 May 2015,
  • November 2012: Keynote speaker, International PACLIC 26 (26th Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information, and Computation) conference, Bali, Indonesia, 8-10 November 2012.
  • February 2011: Plenary speaker, the 2nd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation, University of Hawaii, US.
  • June 2009: Invited speaker, the 4th Conference on Austronesian Languages and Linguistics (ALL4), organized by the UK Austronesian Research Group (UKARG), London, UK, 17-18 June 2009.
  • May 2007: Invited speaker, the International Conference on Endangered Austronesian Languages, Taiwan.
  • July 2005: Keynote speaker, the 6th International ALT (Association for Linguistic Typology) conference, Padang, Indonesia.
  • July 2002: Main speaker, the 16th (international) PELBBA linguistic meeting, Atma Jaya Catholic University, Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • May 2000: Invited speaker, the 7th meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Expertise Areas

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


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