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Department of Linguistics

Centre for Language Sciences (CLaS)

The Centre for Language Sciences (CLaS) was established as a Macquarie University Research Centre (MQRC) in 2007 with Distinguished Professor Stephen Crain as Director. With the commencement of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders and the appointment of CLaS Founding Director, Distinguished Professor Crain, as its Director, Mark Johnson, Professor of Language Sciences (CORE) in the Department of Computing, took up the appointment as CLaS Director in March 2011. Centre research encompasses theoretical, experimental and computational issues in a variety of areas, including linguistics, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, lexicography, audiology and speech science. The mission of the Centre is to foster interdisciplinary research, with several researchers being involved in more than one of the following major research areas.

CLaS Major Research Project Areas

Reading Group

Members of the Linguistics Department and the Centre for Language Sciences (CLaS) are currently running four different informal Reading Groups.  The goal is primarily for MRES and PhD students and related staff to be able to present journal articles and discuss current theoretical and methodological issues that are relevant for student thesis research.  

These groups are meeting fortnightly throughout 2014.  If you or your students are potentially interested in the following topics, please contact the relevant organizer below for further information regarding venue, time and readings, and/or to be added to the mailing list.

  •  Hearing Reading Group
  •  Language Acquisition Reading Group
  •  Phonology Reading Group
  •  Phonetics Reading Group 

Language Acquisition

Involves studies of both First Language Acquisition (L1) and Second Language Acquisition (L2) across populations and languages. Distinguished Professor Stephen Crain (semantics/pragmatics), Associate Professor Rosalind Thornton (syntax) and Professor Katherine Demuth (phonology and morpho-syntax).

Computational linguistics

Includes machine learning and probabilistic/Bayesian approaches to modeling language acquisition and language processing in the brain (Professor Mark Johnson) as well as corpus-based research into language variation and terminology (Emeritus Professor Pam Peters & Dr Jan Tent.).

Hearing and Speech Science

Includes research on auditory processing and its impact on central and peripheral deficits (i.e. hearing loss) in children and adults (Dr Catherine McMahon, Dr Mridula Sharma & Dr Robert Mannell) as well as issues in speech production and dialectal variation (Associate Professor Felicity Cox).


Investigates how linguistic knowledge is accessed, composed, and put to use in different social circumstances (Professor Linda Cupples & Professor Lyndsey Nickels).

Sign Language.

Examines socio-linguistic variation and language change in signing deaf communities in order to test hypotheses about the relationship between usage and grammar (Professor Trevor Johnston)

Translation and Interpreting.

Research that focuses on translator and interpreter competence drawing on psycho-, socio- and cognitive linguistic analyses of authentic or experimental data, and on translation and interpreting pedagogy, scrutinising the quality and outcomes of T&I teaching and testing through action research and various other quantitative and qualitative research methods (Ms Helen Slatyer).


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Better NLP with Topic Models and Better Topic Models with NLP

Monday, 18th November 2013, 11:00 AM

Speaker : Associate Professor Timothy Baldwin, The University of Melbourne
Location : Building E6A, Room 202, Macquarie University
More Details [pdf 77kb]

Syntactic Change in Progress: The New Impersonal Construction in Icelandic

Monday, 25th November 2013, 11:00 AM

Speaker : Professor Joan Maling, Brandeis University
Location : The Australian Hearing Hub, Level 3, Room 3.610, Macquarie University
More Details [pdf 146kb]