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The Team


Senior Lecturer, Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University 

Project Leader

Joe Blythe is an Interactional Linguist specialising in Australian Indigenous languages. He conducts field research on the Murrinhpatha language of the Northern Territory and on the Gija and Jaru languages from northern Western Australia. Joe is interested in the relationships between linguistic structure and social action, and what these relationships reveal about social cognition and culture. He is also interested in gesture, kinship and social organisation, child language acquisition and language evolution.

Joe leads the project and oversees the Turn-Taking and action sequences subproject.


Professor, School of Languages and LinguisticsUniversity of Melbourne

Chief Investigator

Lesley is a descriptive and typological linguist who has conducted field research on the Australian language spoken in the Western Torres Strait islands, Kala Lagaw Ya, and contributed to the description of English grammar and discourse patterns. Her postgraduate training was in the area of cognitive science and she is interested in the interaction between language, culture and cognition. She has a longstanding research focus on interactional linguistics and the analysis of conversation and other types of naturally occurring discourse, including in particular, storytelling of different kinds. In addition to this research project, she works on the challenges of communication for people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and she is an Adjunct member of the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University.

Lesley leads the Storytelling in conversation subproject and oversees the  Australian English data collection.

Ilana Mushin.jpeg

Associate Professor,  School of Languages and Cultures, The University of Queensland 

Chief Investigator

Ilana's research interests include interactions between discourse, cognition and grammar, pragmatics, perspective-taking in discourse, Conversation Analysis, typology, narrative structure, language shift and language maintenance, Australian Aboriginal Languages.

Ilana leads the Knowledge management subproject and the Garrwa data collection.


Honorary Associate Professor, School of Languages and Cultures, The University of Queensland

Chief Investigator

Rod consults on Conversation Analysis for all three subprojects. He has worked with Ilana Mushin on Garrwa conversations since 2005, and has co-published a number of papers on Garrwan conversation with Mushin. He has also worked with Mushin on a project investigating early years schooling in a Queensland Aboriginal community, focusing on the management of knowledge and learning in the classroom. He has worked using Conversation Analysis since the mid-90s, initially on Australian English conversation and the role of listeners, later on learners of English as a second language, before focusing on Aboriginal conversation and early years schooling.

Josua Dahmen

Macquarie University

PhD Candidate

Josua is a PhD candidate at Macquarie University under the supervision of Joe Blythe. His interests include Australian Aboriginal languages, Interactional Linguistics, descriptive linguistics and creole languages.

He is looking at Jaru conversation at Ringer Soak.

Catherine Roberts
Katherine Roberts.JPG

University of Melbourne

PhD Candidate

Catherine is a PhD candidate at Melbourne University under the supervision of Lesley Stirling. Her research interests include narratives, identity and discourse/conversation analysis. She is investigating storytelling within rural Australian English conversations. 

Caroline de Dear

Macquarie University

PhD Candidate

Caroline is a PhD candidate at Macquarie University under the supervision of Joe Blythe. Her interests include Australian Aboriginal languages, Conversation Analysis, Interactional Linguistics, gesture and multimodal communication. Caroline is exploring conversations conducted in Gija from a multimodal perspective.

Francesco Possemato

Macquarie University

Research Assistant

Francesco's research interests lie in the naturalistic study of language and social interaction including Conversation Analysis, Interactional Linguistics, and Interactionist approaches to Second Language Acquisition. Francesco has recently completed his PhD at the University of Sydney on Italian L2 classroom interaction, and is the project Research Assistant.

Frances Kofod

Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring Language and Culture Centre (MDWg)

Research Associate

Frances Kofod has worked with the east Kimberley languages Gija, Miriwoong and Gajirrabeng since the 1970s. She was instrumental in setting up Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring Language and Culture Centre (MDWg) in Kununurra (WA), which focuses on the maintenance of Miriwoong language and culture. She has been involved in many linguistic and cultural projects with Gija people based at Warmun since first working with that language at the school in 1987-88. In recent years she has produced several Gija language books with Gija people for Warmun Arts. She is currently working on the production of a Gija – English Dictionary.

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