Sociolinguistic research into Indigenous languages of Australia

Jill Vaughan, Ruth Singer, Gillian Wigglesworth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


This chapter provides an overview of key sociolinguistic research in Indigenous Australia, taking in both pre- and post-colonial contexts. The discussion is structured around four interconnected strands representing major gathering points of research endeavours: linguistic variation; multilingualism; language contact and contact languages; and child language. Work on linguistic variation has traced the evolution of indexical links between linguistic practice and social categories from pre-colonial formations - connecting to categories such as kin and territory - to more recent expressions of subcultural and generational identities. In the multilingualism strand, we move beyond single languages to explore complex linguistic repertoires, with a focus on code-switching and the small-scale multilingual ecologies of Arnhem Land (northern Australia). Next we consider contact between speakers of different varieties and the contact languages that can result. The final strand addresses sociolinguistic work on children’s language practices. Across each theme, we include recent, innovative and Indigenous-led research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Sociolinguistics Around the World
EditorsMartin J. Ball, Chiara Meluzzi
Place of PublicationAbingdon UK
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781000901955, 9781003198345
ISBN (Print)9781032056128, 9781032056135
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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