Picture of Prof. Dixon




+61 (07) 4042 1461


+61 (07) 4042 1390




The Cairns Institute

PO Box 6811

Cairns QLD 4870


Qualifications, Memberships and Consultancies


  • University of London: PhD in Linguistics, 1968. Thesis title: The Dyirbal language of North Queensland
  • Australian National University: Doctor of Letters, 1991 (by examination of published work - four books and five papers)

Membership of Learned Societies

  • Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy (elected 1998)
  • Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (elected 1982)
  • Member of Linguistic Society of America since 1962; elected Honorary Member 1987 (the number of Honorary Members is limited to 40 by the LSA constitution; they are spread over 25 countries)
  • Member of the Australian Linguistic Society since 1977; Vice-President1977-80; President 1980-82
  • Member of the Philological Society, London, since 1962

Research Interests

  • Theoretically-informed description of previously undescribed languages, especially those from Australia, Amazonia and Oceania
  • Inductive generalizations concerning the nature of human language
  • Reconstructing past stages of languages and ways in which modern languages develop, in a principled fashion, from putative ancestor languages
  • Documentation of the indigenous languages of Australia, with particular reference to those of the Cairns-Townsville area

Selected Publications

Dixon, R.M.W., (1972) The Dyirbal language of North Queensland (Cambridge Studies in Linguistics, 9). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. xiv, 420 pp. Paperback edition for Australian market, 1973; for remainder of world, 1976.

Dixon, R.M.W.,(1997) The rise and fall of languages. Cambridge University Press. vi, 169 pp. Published simultaneously in hard and paper editions;paperback reprinted 1998, 2000. Japanese translation, Gengo no kobo, translatedby Midori Osumi, Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten. 240 pp,2001. Arabic and Chinese translations in progress.

Dixon, R.M.W., (2002) Australian languages: their nature and development.Cambridge University Press. xlii, 736 pp.Paperback edition 2007.

Dixon, R.M.W., (2004) The Jarawara language of southern Amazonia. Oxford: Oxford University Press. xxi, 636 pp. Paperback edition 2007. Recipient of Leonard Bloomfield Award, from the Linguistic Society of America, as the best book across all field of linguistics published worldwide between March 2003 and February 2005.

Dixon, R.M.W.,(2005) A semantic approach to English grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press. xvii, 543 pp. Published simultaneously in hard and paper editions.