Dr Sally Dixon

Lecturer - School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Sally Dixon

Phone: +61 2 6773 1963

Email: sally.dixon@une.edu.au


My research and applied work is focused at the intersection of descriptive linguistics, sociolinguistics and education. I have always been interested in linguistic outcomes of contact, such as individual multilingualism, language practises in border regions, and contact varieties. I am particularly interested in the linguistic and social implications for minoritised varieties and their speakers in contexts of language contact.

I joined the Aboriginal Child Language Acquisition project in 2011, undertaking a study of Alyawarr children’s use of two closely-related language varieties in central Australia. This included building a corpus of transcribed video data of naturalistic language use in home and school settings. My work on this project is unique in its application of the Variationist Comparative Method to bi-varietal child language data.

Prior to this, I worked for several years at Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre as a field linguist. In this role I was responsible for the documentation and description of several highly endangered Pilbara languages as well as the creation of resources to be used in language revitalisation and maintenance efforts. I also spent a year in the Philippines working for a local Indigenous people’s education NGO, where I developed multilingual curricula and teaching materials.

Before coming to UNE, I lived in Germany for 3.5 years, teaching linguistics in the English Studies departments of the Friedrich Schiller University (Jena) and Erfurt University (Erfurt).


BA Hons Linguistics (UNSW), BSc Psychology (UNSW), GradCert in Linguistics and Language Endangerment Studies (Monash), PhD Linguistics (ANU).

Teaching Areas

  • LING101 Introduction to Linguistics
  • LING102 Foundations of Linguistics
  • LING305/505 Meaning in Language
  • LING366 Australia’s Indigenous Languages

Research Supervision Experience

Sally is available for Higher Degree Research supervision in the areas listed below

Supervision areas

  • Sociolinguistic and descriptive accounts of minoritised English varieties (including contact varieties) and complex language ecologies (including individual and society-wide multilingualism/multi-dialectalism)
  • Sociolinguistic and descriptive studies of contact languages
  • Studies utilising comparative variationist methodologies (and other quantitative approaches to language description)
  • Studies of language endangerment and revitalisation
  • Minoritised languages in education (policy, pedagogy and practise)
  • Childhood multilingualism
  • Documentation and description (particularly of Australian languages)


PhD Thesis

Dixon, S. (2017). Alyawarr children's variable present temporal reference expression in two, closely-related languages of Central Australia. PhD Dissertation, The Australian National University.

Journal Articles

Dixon, S. (2015). Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!: Object requests, ownership and entitlement in a children’s play session. Journal of Pragmatics, 82:39-51.

Dixon, S., & Angelo, D. (2014). Dodgy data, language invisibility and the implications for social inclusion: A critical analysis of Indigenous student language data in Queensland schools. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics 37 (3): 213-233.

Dixon, S. (2013). Educational failure or success?: Aboriginal children’s non-standard English utterances. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics 36(3): 302-315.

Book Chapters

Dixon, S. (2017). Alyawarr children’s use of two closely-related languages. In J. Simpson & G. Wigglesworth (Eds.), From Home to School: Language Practices of Indigenous and Minority Children. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gawne, L., Wigglesworth, G., Morales, G., Poetsch, S., and Dixon, S. (2016). Making the ESL classroom visible: Indigenous Australian children’s early education. In V. A. Murphy & M. Evangelou (Eds.), Childhood Education in English for Speakers of Other Languages. London: British Council.

Dixon, S. (2011). Juwaliny: dialectal variation and ethnolinguistic identity in the Great Sandy Desert. In B. Baker, R. Gardner, M. Harvey, & I. Mushin (Eds.), Language and social identity in Indigenous communities: papers presented to Dr Michael Walsh on the occasion of his retirement. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.

Dixon, S., & Deak, E. (2010). The Language Centre as a language revitalisation strategy: a case study from Wangka Maya PALC. In J. Hobson, K. Lowe, S. Poetsch, & M. Walsh (Eds.), Re-awakening languages: Theory and practice in the revitalisation of Australia’s Indigenous languages. Sydney: Sydney University Press.

Book Reviews

Dixon, S. (forthcoming) Review of Bilingualism in the Community: Codeswitching and Grammars in Contact by Rena Torres Cacoullos and Catherine E. Travis. Australian Journal of Linguistics.

Dixon, S. (2013). Review of Desert Lake: Art, science and stories from Paruku by S. Morton, M. Martin, K. Mahood and J. Carty. Aboriginal History, 1, 147.

Dixon, S. (2012). Review of The Habitat of Australia’s Aboriginal Languages: Past, Present and Future edited by G. Leitner & I. G. Malcolm. Aboriginal History, 1, 207.

Community Language Publications

Dixon, S. (2011). How to Read and Write Pilbara Languages. South Hedland: WMPALC.

Dixon, S. (2009). Juwaliny Sketch Grammar and Dictionary: an introduction to the structure and use of Juwaliny. South Hedland: WMPALC.

Dixon, S. (2008). Yulparija Sketch Grammar: an introduction to the structure and use of Yulparija. South Hedland: WMPALC.

Data contribution

Kitzinger, C., Lerner, G.H., Zinken, J., Wilkinson, S., Kevoe-Feldman, H., Ellis, S. (2013). Reformulating place. Journal of Pragmatics, 55: 43-50.


  • Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of language – Affiliate Member
  • Australian Linguistic Society
  • Applied Linguistics Association of Australia
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft

Further Information

Grants, Scholarships and Prizes

ARC CoEDL Language Documentation Grant, 2019

Susan Kaldor Travel Grant. The Australian Linguistics Society, 2010

Australian Postgraduate Award.

Mar Prize for Linguistics. ‘For the best performance in a linguistics course in the Bachelor of Arts or Master of Arts program’, University of NSW, 2004