James Bednall

I am a lecturer in linguistics at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE), a visiting fellow at the Australian National University and a research affiliate with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL).

My experience as a linguist spans the research, teaching, community development and not-for-profit sectors, including substantial project and people management, teamwork, and local/national/international collaboration. Find out more about my research, projects, publications and teaching.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that this website contains photos and mentions names of deceased persons, which may cause sadness or distress. Photos and names are provided with permission.

About




I am a linguist, based on Larrakia country, in Darwin, Australia.

I studied linguistics and music (BA(Hons)/BMus) at the University of Western Australia (2006-2011). My honours thesis analysed and compared inflectional deontic modal categories across a number of Western Desert languages.

I worked as a linguist at Bundiyarra – Irra Wangga Language Centre (BIW) (2011-2014). I continue to collaborate with BIW as a consultant, particularly working with the Badimaya community.

I undertook my PhD at the Australian National University & Université de Paris (2015-2020), with a thesis examining temporal, aspectual and modal expression in Anindilyakwa, the language of the Groote Eylandt archipelago. I worked in various positions (consultant, linguist and language centre coordinator) for the Anindilyakwa Land Council’s Groote Eylandt Language Centre (2017-2021).

I have worked as a lecturer in linguistics at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE) since 2021.

Research




My research involves several intersecting domains: i) the documentation and description of Australian Aboriginal languages (incl. fieldwork methodologies, the structure of reference grammars and dictionaries, the collection and analysis of data informed by typological, formal and experimental approaches); ii) the interfaces between morphosyntax, semantics and pragmatics; iii) the relations between language, culture and cognition; and iv) community-led language revitalisation and maintenance practices.

My approach to research and teaching is collaborative and community-guided. As a non-Indigenous man who has had the opportunity to live and work on unceded Whadjuk Noongar, Amangu, Nhanhagardi, Wilunyu, Naaguja, Badimaya, Wajarri, Nhanda, Ngunnawal, Warnumamalya, Kungarakan and Larrakia country, I have had the privilege of learning from many generous, patient and knowledgeable mentors and teachers, who have been instrumental in shaping and enhancing the collaborative approaches and principles that underpin my teaching, research and community engagement.

My research builds on over a decade of collaborative work with language communities in Mid-West Western Australia and north-east Arnhem Land. These partnerships are central to conducting research that is valuable to the academy and the community alike. The languages I have worked most extensively with are Badimaya (Pama-Nyungan, Kartu) in Mid-West WA and Anindilyakwa (Gunwinyguan) on the Groote Eylandt archipelago, NT.

See publications and presentations for links to my research.

James Bednall and Badimaya Elder Ollie George (RIP) in Mt Magnet WA, 2015

Language communities I work with




I work and do research with a number of communities in Mid-West Western Australia and north-east Arnhem Land (Northern Territory). In the Mid-West, I have worked with the Malgana, Ngarlawangga, Nhanda, Wajarri, Warriyangka, Yingkarta and Yinhawangka languages and communities, however I have worked most extensively with the Badimaya community, in and around Mt Magnet. In north-east Arnhem Land, the majority of my work has been based on the Groote Eylandt archipelago, working with Warnumamalya communities on their language Anindilyakwa.

Projects




Over the last decade I have worked on a number of significant research projects, delivering outcomes to both academic and community sectors.



2015-2020 ‘Temporal, aspectual and modal expression in Anindilyakwa, the language of the Groote Eylandt Archipelago, Australia’


Project summary: My PhD thesis (ANU & U.Paris) provides an empirically driven and theoretically informed examination of temporal, aspectual and modal (TAM) expression in Anindilyakwa, an underdescribed Gunwinyguan language of the Groote Eylandt archipelago, north-east Arnhem Land, Australia. The thesis provides a detailed description of some of the core grammatical properties related to the verbal complex, which builds the infrastructure to then provide a theoretically-informed examination of TAM expression and interaction, contributing towards and building upon research in the area of TAM semantics and pragmatics, and their interfaces with morphosyntax.

Funding: Australian Postgraduate Award, Australian Graduate Research Training Program Scholarship, Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language

Affiliation: Australian National University / Université de Paris

Judy Lalara and James Bednall at the Groote Eylandt Language Centre in Angurugu NT, 2018








2019-2020 ‘The Furnace (feature film)’


Project summary: The Furnace is a feature film, written and directed by Roderick MacKay, produced by Tim White and Tenille Kennedy, and developed with the assistance of Screenwest and Lotterywest, starring David Wenham, Ahmed Malek, Baykali Ganambarr and Trevor Jamieson. Set in Mt Magnet, during Western Australia’s 1890s gold rush, this film follows the story of a young Muslim Afghan who forms an unlikely partnership with a bushman on the run with Crown gold. The film highlights the forgotten history of Australia’s ‘Ghan’ cameleers, who formed unique bonds with local Aboriginal people. Dialogue between Indigenous characters in the film is in Badimaya, the language of the region in which the film is set.

My role: Translator; consulted with Badimaya community; translated dialogue for the film (English>Badimaya) in collaboration with Godfrey Simpson and a working group of Badimaya community members








2016-2018 ‘Nganang Badimaya Wangga: Yarns with Gami Ollie George’


Project summary: A collaborative, multi-modal project that resulted in the publication of a bilingual collection of biographical, historical and cultural narratives by Badimaya speaker Ollie George, containing artwork from 14 local Badimaya and Yamaji artists of Midwest WA; a short video documentary produced by Chris Lewis (ABC Open); and the exhibition of the project (curated by Brendan Penzer) at the Geraldton Regional Gallery, WA (27 May – 11 June 2017) and the Moran Arts Foundation, Sydney, NSW (21 June – 12 August 2018).

My role: Linguist/researcher (recorded, transcribed and translated Badimaya and English audio and text) & co-editor of the NBW publication; assisted in the general coordination and facilitation of the overall project

Funding: Country Arts WA (Regional Arts Legacy Grant), the Department of Communication and the Arts (Indigenous Languages and Arts Open Round Grant)

Affiliation: Bundiyarra - Irra Wangga Language Centre

Rosie Sitorus, Ollie George (RIP) and James Bednall at the opening of the Nganang Badimaya Wangga exhibition, Geraldton WA, 27 May 2017







Ollie George (RIP) cuts the dictionary cake at the launch of the Badimaya Dictionary on Kirkalocka Station WA, 10 April 2014

2012-2014 ‘Badimaya Dictionary’


Project summary: A print dictionary project, involving substantial community consultation, data collection and consolidation of legacy material, in order to compile and publish a dictionary of ~1,150 head-words. Second edition published in 2021.

My role: Linguist/researcher (recorded, transcribed, translated, databased Badimaya and English audio and text) & dictionary compiler; coordinated and oversaw the project to completion

Funding: Royalties for Regions, the Federal Department of Arts’ Indigenous Languages Support Program

Affiliation: Bundiyarra - Irra Wangga Language Centre








2013-2014 ‘On Badimaya Country’


Project summary: A joint photographic and language documentation project, capturing cultural, language and regional knowledge of local Badimaya people in photo, film and text. The joint project between the Combined Universities Centre for Regional Health, the Bundiyarra - Irra Wangga Language Centre and the Bidi Bidi Centre of the Mount Magnet community resulted in a seasonal calendar, a photo booklet, three bilingual (Badimaya/English) children's books, and a photographic exhibition of the project at ANZAC Memorial Hall, Mount Magnet, WA (17 April 2013), Geraldton Regional Library, WA (30 April – 14 May 2013), and the WA Museum – Geraldton, WA (15 November 2013 – 2 February 2014).

My role: Linguist/researcher (recorded, transcribed, translated Badimaya and English audio and text) & co-editor of project publications; assisted in the general coordination and facilitation of the overall project

Funding: Mid West Development Commission, Royalties for Regions, the Federal Department of Arts’ Indigenous Languages Support Program

Affiliation: Bundiyarra - Irra Wangga Language Centre

The ‘On Badimaya Country’ exhibition in Geraldton WA, 15 November 2013







2011-2012 ‘Derivational morphology in Yinhawangka’


Project summary: As part of a Summer Research Scholarship based at the College of Arts and Social Sciences at the Australian National University and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), and in partnership with the Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre, I undertook a research project examining derivational morphology of the Yinhawangka language of the Pilbara, Western Australia. This involved analysis of legacy material, in addition to conducting fieldwork in Tom Price and Bellary Springs (north Western Australia).

Funding: Summer Research Scholarship funded by the Australian National University, AIATSIS and the Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre

Affiliation: Australian National University / AIATSIS








2011 ‘The semantics of mood across the Western Desert language’


Project summary: My BA(Hons) thesis (UWA) examines modal expression (primarily deontic modality) across a sample of varieties of the Western Desert language, an Australian Aboriginal language displaying extensive dialectal variation, spoken across the central west of Australia. The thesis focuses on five well-described varieties of Western Desert (Ngaanyatjarra, Pintupi, Pitjantjatjara, Wangkajunga, Yankunytjatjara), in order to study two widespread inflectional categories, the perfective imperative and the imperfective, paying special attention to variation in and across language varieties with respect to the formal and semantic properties they display

Affiliation: University of Western Australia

Publications




If you would like a copy of something that is not available here, please email me.

Dictionaries


Bednall, James (compiler). 2021. Badimaya dictionary: An Aboriginal language of Western Australia (2nd ed.) Geraldton, Australia: Bundiyarra - Irra Wangga Language Centre. 128 pages. (1st ed. published 2014).



Bednall, James (ed). 2014. Badimaya Guwaga = Talking Badimaya: An illustrated wordlist of the Badimaya language of Western Australia. Geraldton, Australia: Bundiyarra - Irra Wangga Language Centre. 104 pages.


Journal articles

Bednall, James. 2021. Identifying salient Aktionsart properties in Anindilyakwa. Languages 6(4), 164. Download PDF.


Bednall, James. 2020. Feeling through your chest: Body-based tropes for emotion in Anindilyakwa. Pragmatics and Cognition 27(1), 139-183.


Book chapters

Bednall, James. in press. ‘Tense and aspect’ in C. Bowern (ed.) The Oxford Guide to Australian Languages. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 33 pages. [expected 2022].


Bednall, James. in press. ‘Modality and mood’ in C. Bowern (ed.) The Oxford Guide to Australian Languages. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 42 pages. [expected 2022].


Bednall, James. in press. ‘Yirriyengburnama-langwa mamawura-langwa: Talking about time in Anindilyakwa’ in A. McGrath, J. Troy & L. Rademaker (eds.) Everywhen: Conceiving, Knowing, and Narrating the Past of Indigenous Australia. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 26 pages. [expected 2022].


Conference proceedings

Bednall, James. 2013. ‘Changing opinions or persisting ideologies: An exploratory study into attitudes to Aboriginal languages by non-Indigenous Australians’ in C. Conlan (ed.) Refereed proceedings of the Applied Linguistic Association of Australia Annual Conference 2012, Perth, Australia, 433-461.


Theses

Bednall, James. 2020. Temporal, aspectual and modal expression in Anindilyakwa, the language of the Groote Eylandt archipelago, Australia. PhD thesis, Australian National University & Université de Paris. 615 pages. Download PDF.


Bednall, James. 2011. The semantics of mood across the Western Desert language. Honours thesis, University of Western Australia. 71 pages.


Community resources


Bednall, James, Sue Chiera and Rosie Sitorus (eds). 2017. Nganang Badimaya Wangga: Yarns with Gami Ollie George. Geraldton, Australia: Bundiyarra - Irra Wangga Language Centre. 92 pages.



Wagner, Johanna and James Bednall (eds). 2013. On Badimaya Country. Geraldton, Australia: Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health (CUCRH). 60 pages.



Wagner, Johanna and James Bednall (eds). 2013. Badimaya Seasonal Calendar. Geraldton, Australia: Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health (CUCRH). 15 pages.




Bednall, James (ed). 2013. Joe Benjamin Stories: Story about the Mallee Hen and The Porcupine Story. Geraldton, Australia: Irra Wangga Language Centre. 20 pages.


Archival collections

Bednall, James (collector). 2016-2019. Anindilyakwa language documentation. [JRB1]. Digital collection managed by PARADISEC.


Bednall, James (collector). 2012-2014. Badimaya language recordings, 2012-2014. [IRRA- WANGGA_08]. (64 audio files; 44 hrs). Digital collection managed by AIATSIS.


Presentations



Conference presentations

Bednall, James, Peter Salmon, Godfrey Simpson and Rosie Sitorus. 2021. Across cultures, across disciplines: Developing a model for working in the “in between”. Artlands 2021. 1-3 September 2021, Junction Arts Festival, Launceston, Australia.


Bednall, James, Jacqui Cook, Roderick MacKay, Godfrey Simpson and Rosie Sitorus. 2021. Ngalimi bidagu yan.guwa furnace-di ‘From the quiet, into The Furnace’: Translating a sleeping language for a feature film. 7th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation. 4 March 2021, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Bednall, James. 2020. Aspectual and discourse-emphatic properties of stylised prosodic lengthening in Anindilyakwa. 51st Annual Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society. 14-15 December 2020, Online Conference, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2019. Variable use of case marking to indicate grammatical relations in Anindilyakwa. Grammatical Relations in Australian Languages workshop (organised by T Ennever & M Browne). 50th Annual Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society. 11-13 December 2019, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.


Ponsonnet, Maïa, James Bednall and Isobel O’Keeffe. 2019. The respective roles of culture and grammar in shaping emotion metaphors: The case of the Gunwinyguan family. Minority Languages & Cognitive Linguistics workshop (organised by S Devylder, A Gaby & J Schlossberg). 15th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference (ICLC-15). 6-11 August 2019, Kwansei Gakuin University, Nishinomiya, Japan.


Caudal, Patrick, Robert Mailhammer and James Bednall. 2019. A comparative account of the Iwaidja and Anindilyakwa modal systems. 18th Australian Languages Workshop.  15-17 March 2019, University of Melbourne, Marysville, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2018. Durative and relational temporal adverbials, event structure aspect and temporal reference in Anindilyakwa. 49th Annual Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society. 10-12 December 2018, University of Adelaide, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2018. Temporal and aspectual expression in Anindilyakwa: Phonologically overt vs. zero-marked inflectional T/A. Colloque Chronos 13. 4-6 June 2018, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


Caudal, Patrick and James Bednall. 2018. Composite TA-M marking in non-Pama-Nyungan languages: Evidence for a constructional approach to the tense-aspect/modality interaction. Colloque Chronos 13. 4-6 June 2018, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


Bednall, James. 2018. Expressing imperatives in Anindilyakwa (Australia): imperative.hortative vs. irrealis portmanteaux pronominal marking. Poster presentation at  Non-Canonical Imperatives Workshop. 25-26 May 2018, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Germany.


Bednall, James. 2017. Body parts and emotions in Anindilyakwa. Emotion metaphors in Australian languages: The role of the body workshop (organised by M Ponsonnet) at the 48th Annual Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society. 4-7 December 2017, University of Sydney, Australia.


Caudal, Patrick and James Bednall. 2017. Complex TAM marking in a selection of non-Pama-Nyungan languages. TAM marking in languages of Australia and the Pacific workshop (organised by J Bednall, P Caudal & A Krajinović) at the 48th Annual Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society. 4-7 December 2017, University of Sydney, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2017. Expressing viewpoint aspect in Anindilyakwa: Inflectional and non-inflectional strategies. 16th Australian Languages Workshop. 3-5 March 2017, University of Melbourne, Marysville, Australia.


Caudal, Patrick and James Bednall. 2016. Polyfunctionality vs. compositionality and the tense/aspect-modality divide: Descriptive, comparative and theoretical issues. TAM-E Conference. 17-18 November 2016, Université Paris Diderot–Paris 7, France.


Bednall, James and Patrick Caudal. 2016. The tense/aspect(-modality) system of Anindilyakwa: A reanalysis. 8th European Australianist Workshop. 24-25 September 2016, SOAS, London, UK.


Bednall, James. 2016. Aspectual expression in Anindilyakwa narratives. 15th Australian Languages Workshop. 4-6 March 2016, Australian National University, Kioloa Campus, Australia.


Bednall, James and Rosie Sitorus. 2014. With many roles come many responsibilities: Language centres and the implementation of school and community-based language programs. 45th Annual Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society. 10-12 December 2014, University of Newcastle, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2014. You two sat standing: Expressing imperfectivity in Badimaya. The Young Linguists’ International Conference. 28 June 2014, Stockholm University, Sweden.


Bednall, James. 2013. Lexical, morphological and syntactic variation in Badimaya: An examination of two Badimaya varieties. 44th Annual Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society. 1-4 October 2013, University of Melbourne, Australia.


Bednall, James, Jennifer Kniveton, Leonie Boddington and Edie Maher. 2013. Collaboration and engagement between language programs and the community: Discussions from the Midwest, WA. Western and Northern Aboriginal Language Alliance (WANALA) Conference. 25-27 June 2013, Edith Cowan University, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2012. Modal and aspectual functions of the imperfective morpheme -ma across the Western Desert language. The verbal systems in Australian languages workshop (organised by P Caudal) at the 43rd Annual Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society. 5-7 December 2012, University of Western Australia, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2012. Changing opinions or persisting ideologies: Attitudes to Aboriginal languages by non-Indigenous Australians. 37th Annual Conference of the Applied Linguistic Association of Australia (ALAA). 12-14 November 2012, Curtin University, Australia.


Invited talks

Bednall, James, Jacqui Cook, Roderick MacKay, Godfrey Simpson and Rosie Sitorus. 2020. Ngalimi bidagu yan.guwa furnace-di ‘From the quiet, into The Furnace’: Translating a sleeping language for a feature film. UWA Linguistics Seminar. 29 May 2020, University of Western Australia, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2018. Temporal reference and categorisation: Perspectives from Anindilyakwa. Understanding the Deep Past across Language and Culture Symposium. 27-28 September 2018, Australian National University, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2018. Composite TAM marking in Anindilyakwa (Australia). Seminar Series. 29 May 2018, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany.


Bednall, James. 2018. Aspectuo-temporal underspecification and composite modal marking in Anindilyakwa (Gunwinyguan, Australia). FunC Group Seminar Series. 20 April 2018, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.


Bednall, James. 2013. Fading voices: Local and global perspectives on language endangerment and the erosion of linguistic diversity. Public Lecture Series. 20, 21 November 2013, Western Australian Museum - Geraldton, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2013. Fading voices: Local and global perspectives on language endangerment and the erosion of linguistic diversity. Public Lecture Series. 20, 21 November 2013, Western Australian Museum - Geraldton, Australia.


Departmental seminars and other presentations

Bednall, James. 2020. Temporal, aspectual and modal inflectional marking in Anindilyakwa. Thesis Defence. 13 February 2020, Australian National University, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2019. Temporal and modal properties of complex clauses in Anindilyakwa. CoEDL Seminar. 25 January 2019, Australian National University, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2018. Imperatives and deontic modality in Anindilyakwa. Poster presentation at CoEDL-fest (the Annual Meeting of the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language). 5-9 February 2018, University of Melbourne, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2018. Fieldwork and Australian languages. National Youth Science Forum. 10 January 2018, Australian National University, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2017. Mood marking and modality in Anindilyakwa. CoEDL Seminar. 1 September 2017, Australian National University, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2017. Anindilyakwa Corpus Development. CoEDL Corpus Workshop. 2-4 May 2017, University of Melbourne, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2017. Polyfunctionality of the irrealis in Anindilyakwa. Poster presentation at CoEDL-fest (the Annual Meeting of the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language). 5-9 February 2017, University of Queensland, Australia.


Bednall, James and Patrick Caudal. 2016. Inflectional tense/aspect-modality marking in Anindilyakwa, and other Australian languages. LingLunch Seminar. 27 October 2016, Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7, France.


Bednall, James. 2016. The Anindilyakwa Corpus Project. CoEDL Corpus-building Workshop. 18-19 April 2016, University of Melbourne, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2015. Temporal, aspectual and modal expression in Anindilyakwa, a non-Pama-Nyungan language of Groote Eylandt, Australia. Thesis Proposal Seminar.  30 November 2015, Australian National University, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2012. Derivational morphology in Yinhawangka. School of Language Studies Seminar. 23 January 2012, Australian National University, Australia.


Bednall, James. 2011. The semantics of mood across the Western Desert language. UWA Linguistics Seminar. 7 October 2011, University of Western Australia, Australia.


Teaching



I have experience teaching across a broad range of topics in linguistics and translation studies at undergraduate and graduate level, as well as teaching English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) and music studies. Additionally, I have worked in collaboration with Indigenous colleagues in areas of Indigenous languages education, in both school-based programs and adult-focused community-run programs.


My background in teaching and education includes:

  • Tertiary education: course convening; lecturing and tutoring undergraduate and graduate students (Diploma, Bachelor and Master’s degrees);
  • Primary and secondary education: teaching students at (public and private) primary and secondary schools, and at private academies.


Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education & Charles Darwin University

Unit coordinator and lecturer

IAS163 Introduction to Linguistics (Sem1 2021, Sem1 2022)

IAS164 Linguistics for Indigenous Languages 2 (Sem2 2021)

IAS264 Language Documentation Methods and Tools (Sem2 2021, Sem2 2022)

IAS265 Meaning in Language: Semantics (Sem1 2021, Sem1 2022)

IAS268 Sounds and Sound Systems: Phonetics and Phonology (Sem2 2022)

IAS269 Word and Sentence Structure: Morphology and Syntax (Sem1 2022)

IAS364 Dictionary Making (Sem2 2021, Sem2 2022)

IAS365 Linguistic Applications in Indigenous Language Analysis (Sem 1 2021, Sem2 2022)

Lecturer

IAS403 Independent Study (Sem 2 2021)


University of Western Australia

Guest lecturer

‘Translating Australian Indigenous Languages: Practical and theoretical considerations’ (2h lecture) for Dr. Anna Gadd-Colombi. TRNS5002 Interdisciplinary Translation Studies. 13 September 2017, 3 September 2018, September 2019, September 2020, 20 September 2021.


Australian National University

Guest lecturer

‘Tense and aspect’ (2h lecture) for Prof. Jane Simpson. LING2008/6008 Semantics. 17 May 2017.

Tutor (TA)

LING2008/6008 Semantics with Prof. Jane Simpson. Semester 1 2017.


All Saints College

Instrumental music teacher

Instrumental music teacher (clarinet and saxophone performance, music theory, junior band conductor). Perth, Australia. 2008-2011.


Excelsis Music Academy

Instrumental music teacher

Instrumental music teacher (clarinet performance). Perth, Australia. 2009-2010.


Nedlands Primary School

Instrumental music teacher

Instrumental music teacher (clarinet performance). Perth, Australia. 2009.


Private tuition

Private music tutor (clarinet and saxophone performance, music theory). Perth/Geraldton/Canberra, Australia. 2007-2016.

Private English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) Tutor. Perth, Australia and Madrid, Spain. 2014.

Contact

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