Specialisation: Australian Aboriginal languages, Papuan languages, language typology, language documentation, anthropological linguistics
Nicholas (Nick) Evans is a linguist specialising in the languages of Australia (Kayardild, Bininj Gun-wok, Dalabon, Iwaidja) and Southern New Guinea (Nen), as well as more general problems of documenting the world’s fragile linguistic diversity. He has written comprehensive reference grammars of previously undescribed Australian languages (Kayardild, Evans 1995 and Bininj Gun-wok, Evans 2003), dictionaries of Kayardild and Dalabon, coedited books on a range of linguistic problems (polysynthesis, reciprocal constructions, insubordination), and (with Patrick McConvell) on bringing together linguistic and archaeological evidence to reconstruct Australia’s deep human past (McConvell & Evans 1997). His crossover book Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us (2010) has been translated into French, German, Japanese, Korean and Chinese,and (with Steve Levinson) he is the author of an influential article The Myth of Language Universals which argues for a fundamental reorientation of the field away from an untenable ‘universal grammar’ to a an approach taking diversity and variability as its core premises. He has also published on Aboriginal art, music and oral history, as seen through the prism of indigenous languages, and served as an interpreter and anthropological consultant in several Aboriginal native title claims. Based at the Australian National University, he directs CoEDL, the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language.
ARC Laureate Fellow
ANU and Director
ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language
FAHA, FBA, ARC Laureate Fellow, Anneliese-Maier Forschungspreis
Evans, Nicholas. 2010. Dying Words: Endangered languages and what they have to tell us. Maldon & Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. (With French, German, Japanese, Korean and Chinese translations)
Evans, Nicholas. 2011. Semantic Typology. In Jae Jung Sung (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology. Oxford: OUP. Pp. 504-533.
Evans, Nicholas & Steven Levinson. 2009a,b. The Myth of Language Universals. Behavioral & Brain Sciences, Target Article with Commentary, plus response (With diversity in mind: freeing the language sciences from Universal Grammar). Behavioral & Brain Sciences 32: 429-448, 472-492.
[Reprinted in H. Stam, ed. (2011) Theoretical Psychology – Contemporary Readings. Sage Publications.]
Evans, Nicholas, Alice Gaby, Stephen Levinson & Asifa Majid (eds.). 2011. Reciprocals and Semantic Typology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Evans, Nicholas & Honoré Watanabe (eds.). 2016. Insubordination. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Email: nicholas.evans [at] anu.edu.au