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 - now)
  • 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. 
  • Chris Wedall. PhD thesis: A Grammar of Sajolang.
  • Thersia Tamelan. PhD thesis: A grammar of Dela, an Austronesian langauge of eastern Indonesia.
  • Naijing Liu. PhD thesis: Lexical and prosodic phonology: Tsum and Tianjin.

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. Here are the courses that I teach at the ANU:

  • Syntactic theory/Advanced Morphosyntax (2013, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020 as Convenor)
  • Indonesian 5 (2016, 2021, as Convenor)
  • Indonesian 2 (2017, 2018, 2020, as Convenor)
  • Indonesian 1 (2018, 2019 as Convenor)
  • Indonesian 6 (2015, as Convernor; 2016,  2021)
  • Introduction to syntax (2015 and 2016, as Convenor)
  • Graduate reading course (2016, as Convenor)
  • Morphology (2015, 2017 as Convenor)
  • Austronesian languages (2012, 2019, 2021 as Convenor)
  • Asia and the Pacific: Power, diversity and change (2016, guest lecture on language policy and globalisation)
  • Indonesian 4 (2014, teaching the translation session)
  • The Study of a language family (2015, guest lecture on voice systems in Indonesian languages)
  • Dictionaries and Dictionary making (2010, guest lecture on corpora)

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).

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

  • 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.
  • 2011. Equipment and facilities upgrade for Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures. (co-CI, with L Barwick, Thieberger,  Bird, Evans, Simpson, Nordlinger, Corn), ARC LE110100142, $238,000.
  • 2010. Endangered languages of Merauke: workshop and fieldwork (PI), CAP/ANU Small Grant, A$4973,
  • 2008. Understanding Indonesian: developing a machine-usable grammar, dictionary and corpus. (Co-PI with Prof. Mary Dalrymple, Oxford University),  British Academy (small) grant, £4688.
  • 2008-2011. Understanding Indonesian: developing a machine-usable grammar, dictionary and corpus (Co-CI with Jane Simpson, University of Sydney; Avery Andrews, ANU; Mary Dalrymple, Oxford University), ARC Discovery Grant,  $269,000.
  • 2006-2009. Austronesian Voice Systems: an Eastern Indonesian Perspective (Co-CI with  M. Shibatani, US; Fay Wouk, Auckland University NZ), funded by NSF, worth US$299,990 or A$408,573.
  • 2004-2006. Documenting Rongga: a marginalized small language of south-central Flores, Indonesia (CI), funded by the ELDP (Endangered Language Documentation Programme)/Rausing Grant from the SOAS London,  A$245,630. 
  • 2003. Serial verb constructions and related structures in Austronesian languages of Nusantara (Co-CI with Dr. John Bowden, Linguistics RSPAS, ANU), small internal grant from RSPAS, ANU, worth A$15,000  

Professional  service

  • 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
  • 2006-now. Member (elected), Steering Committee, ICAL
  • 2007-2011. Panel member (invited), the Panel of the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP), School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
  • 2005-now. Member, editorial board of Linguistik Indonesia, the official journal of the Indonesian Linguistic Association or Masyarakat Linguistik Indonesia (MLI)
  • Organiser of the following international events: ALS conference (2001, Canberra), 9th ICAL (2002, Canberra), AFLA XV (2008 Sydney), LFG08 (2008 Sydney), LFG12/12-ICAL (2012 Bali)
  • 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).
  • Reviewer (invited), for the submissions of abstracts/papers/book chapters for national/international conferences, journals of linguistics and publishers (Studies in Language, AFLA, LFG, SEAL, ICAL; Lingua, Linguistik Indonesia, Pacific Linguistics, John Benjamins, KITLV …).

Evidence of impact

I have been invited to give a talk in the following international linguistics meetings:

  • 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.
  • August 2016. Plenary Speaker, the 2016 International Conference of the Linguistics Society of Indonesia (KIMLI), Bali-Indonesia, 24-27 August 2016.
  • November 2015: Keynote Speaker, the International Conference on Language, Society and Culture, Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonsia (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 2013: Plenary speaker, the 6th International Conference on Austronesian and non-Austronesian languages of Indonesia, Udayana University, Bali, Indonesia, 6-7 November 2013.
  • 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.
  • Aug 2007: Invited speaker, the 4th International Conference on Austronesian languages, Bali, Indonesia.
  • 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: Keynote speaker, the 10th National Congress of the Indonesian Linguistics Society, Bali, Indonesia.
  • July 2002: Main speaker, the 16th (international) PELBBA linguistic meeting, Atma Jaya Catholic University, Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • July 2000: Keynote speaker, the 4th International Symposium on Malay and Indonesian Linguistics, 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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