ATS3677 - Aboriginal languages of Australia - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit



Dr Alice Gaby

Not offered in 2017


The size of Australia and its long history of human inhabitation have produced considerable linguistic diversity, although its languages generally share similar phonologies, cognate words, and recurrent patterns of meaning. In its overview of phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics, this unit will examine what structural features can be considered typical of Australian languages, and how/whether these can be related to typical features of Australian cultures. It will also examine the present sociolinguistic status of Australian aboriginal languages, bilingualism and the role of linguistics in language maintenance and revitalization.


Upon successful completion of this unit students will:

  1. Describe key features of the phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics of Australian Aboriginal languages, and identify such features in a number of different Aboriginal languages.
  2. Explain some of the key theoretical issues regarding the structure of Aboriginal languages.
  3. Discuss relevant sociolinguistic issues including language status, bilingualism and the role of linguistics in language maintenance and revival and the implication of these for language education and planning.

    More generally students are expected to develop their abilities to:

  4. Read critically.
  5. Use analytic and interpretive skills in dealing with language data.
  6. Assess evidence supporting various theories and thereby evaluate these theories.
  7. Present logical, coherent arguments both orally and in writing.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


One of Linguistics or Indigenous cultures and histories cornerstone unit