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[ from Linguistic Export Peter K. Austin, Linguistics Department, SOAS]

Since 1963 the Australian National University has annually awarded the University Medal as its most prestigious undergraduate academic prize. At each conferring of degrees ceremony the University’s most outstanding first class honours students are recognised with the award. An Honour Board displaying the names of all University Medal winning students was launched in February 2008 and is now on display in the Great Hall, University House, Canberra. There is a Virtual Honour Board on the ANU website.

Between 1974 and the present 17 Linguistics students have been awarded the medal, and quite a few names that will be familiar to readers of this blog are among them. They include a number of students who went on to do PhDs and further research describing and/or documenting endangered languages:

1974 Peter Austin
1974 Terry Crowley [.pdf]
1978 Hilary Chappell
1979 Mark Durie
1980 Dorothy Tunbridge
1981 David Wilkins
1989 Christopher Manning
1992 Timothy Curnow
1992 Rochelle Gray
1994 Michael Dunn
1995 Bethwyn Evans
1997 Lynette Heywood
1997 Sarah Virtue
1998 Claire Bowern
2000 Brigid Maher
2003 Anna Brotherson
2005 Kurt Vall

Interestingly, 6 (35%) of these scholars are among Australia’s Linguistic Exports, one (Wilkins) was exported and then reimported, while one (Crowley) was exported and passed away overseas. Seems like ANU has been quite a ‘breeding ground’ for exportable linguists.


Hey! Kurt Vall is an old friend of mine. We grew up together in the same small community. I had heard he went to ANU to study linguistics. Congratulations Kurt!!!!

Nick Enfield has pointed out to me that there are two names of linguists missing from my list. This is because they are listed as having won the medal in Asian Studies not Linguistics. They are (drum roll):

1992 Catherine Travis
1994 Nick Enfield

So 1994 was a double-header for Linguistics (like 1974 and 1997), and 1992 a triple-header!!

Apologies to Catherine and Nick for my oversight.

Interestingly 100% of these new additions are "exports".

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The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.


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