Professor Robert Mailhammer

Professor Robert Mailhammer

Professor and Chair, Academic Senate,
Languages, Linguistics, I&T, TESOL

Chair, Academic Senate,
Director's Unit, Governance Services

Languages, Linguistics, I&T, TESOL


I joined Western Sydney University in 2012. After receiving my PhD in Linguistics from the University of Munich in 2007 I worked as a postdoc in Melbourne (2007) and at the ANU (2009-2010). I've also held positions in Germany (University of Munich 2002-2008, Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt 2009) and the US (Arizona State University 2010-2012). My research interests are very broad, but focus on historical linguistics, Germanic languages and Australian languages.

This information has been contributed by Professor Mailhammer.


  • Phd Ludwig Maximilian University Munich


  • Historical Linguistics
  • Language Documentation
  • Morphology
  • Phonology
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Typology

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • Languages, Linguistics, I&T, TESOL
  • Director's Unit, Governance Services
  • Languages, Linguistics, I&T, TESOL


  • HCA School Research and Higher Degrees Committee
  • Major Area Convener Linguistics


Phone: (02) 9772 6189
Location: 1.1.37

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Previous Teaching Areas

  • 101450 Sociolinguistics, 2017
  • 102042 The Sound of Language, 2017



  • Mailhammer, R. (2021), 'English on Croker Island: The Synchronic and Diachronic Dynamics of Contact and Variation', : De Gruyter Mouton 9783110707755.
  • Mailhammer, R. and Vennemann, T. (2019), 'The Carthaginian North: Semitic Influence on Early Germanic: A Linguistic and Cultural Study', : John Benjamins Publishing 9789027204011.
  • Evans, N. and Mailhammer, R. (2014), 'Wenn Sprachen Sterben: Und Was Wir Mit Ihnen Verlieren', : C.H. Beck 9783406653278.
  • Mailhammer, R. and Handelsmann, R. (2009), 'Amurdak Inyman: Six Stories in Amurdak told by Bill Neidjie and Nelson Mulurinj.', : Iwaidja Inyman 9780977522569.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2007), 'The Germanic Strong Verbs: Foundations and Development of a New System, Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs 183', : Mouton De Gruyter 978-3-11-019878-2.

Chapters in Books

  • Mailhammer, R. (2017), 'Subgrouping Indo-European : a fresh perspective', Usque ad Radices: Indo-European Studies in Honour of Birgit Anette Olsen, Museum Tusculanum Press 9788763545761.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2016), 'Place names as clues to lost languages? : a comparison between Europe and Australia', Language, Land and Song: Studies In Honour of Luise Hercus, EL Publishing 9780728604063.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2015), 'Investigating languages in prehistory : the linguistic roots of Europe', The Linguistic Roots of Europe: Origin and Development of European Languages, Museum Tusculanum Press 9788763542098.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2015), 'Diversity vs. uniformity : Europe before the arrival of the Indo-European languages : a comparison with prehistoric Australia', The Linguistic Roots of Europe: Origin and Development of European Languages, Museum Tusculanum Press 9788763542098.
  • Mailhammer, R., Restle, D. and Vennemann, T. (2015), 'Preference laws in phonological change', Oxford Handbook of Historical Phonology, Oxford University Press 9780199232819.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2014), 'Etymology', The Routledge Handbook of Historical Linguistics, Routledge 9780415527897.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2013), 'Towards a framework of contact etymology', Lexical and Structural Etymology: Beyond Word Histories, De Gruyter Mouton 9781614510598.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2013), 'Introduction : etymology beyond word histories', Lexical and Structural Etymology: Beyond Word Histories, De Gruyter Mouton 9781614510598.
  • Mailhammer, R. and Smirnova, E. (2013), 'Incipient grammaticalisation : sources of passive constructions in Old High German and Old English', Comparative Studies in Early Germanic Languages: With a Focus on Verbal Categories, John Benjamins Publishing 9789027206053.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2011), 'From ic nolde to I don't wanna: the status of clitics in the history of English', More Than Words: English Lexicography and Lexicology Past and Present, Essays Presented to Hans Sauer on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, Peter Lang 9783631595770.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2011), 'The prehistory of European languages', The Languages and Linguistics of Europe, World of Linguistics 1, De Gruyter Mouton 9783110220261.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2008), 'The Typological Significance of Ablaut in the (Pre-)history of English', Clerks, Wives, and Historians: Essays on Medieval English Literature, Peter Lang Pub Inc 978-3039108350.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2007), 'On syllable cut in the Orrmulum', Studies in the History of English III - Managing Chaos: Strategies for Identifying Change in English, Mouton de Gruyter 9783110190892.

Journal Articles

  • Caudal, P. and Mailhammer, R. (2022), 'Linear lengthening in Iwaidja : an event-quantifying intonation at the phonology to semantics/pragmatics interface', Languages, vol 7, no 3 .
  • Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, I., Roehm, D., Mailhammer, R. and Schlesewsky, M. (2020), 'Language processing as a precursor to language change : evidence from Icelandic', Frontiers in Psychology, vol 10 .
  • Mailhammer, R., Sherwood, S. and Stoakes, H. (2020), 'The inconspicuous substratum : Indigenous Australian languages and the phonetics of stop contrasts in English on Croker Island', English World-Wide, vol 41, no 2 , pp 162 - 192.
  • Shaw, J., Carignan, C., Agostini, T., Mailhammer, R., Harvey, M. and Derrick, D. (2020), 'Phonological contrast and phonetic variation : the case of velars in Iwaidja', Language (Washington), vol 96, no 3 , pp 578 - 617.
  • Smirnova, E., Mailhammer, R. and Flach, S. (2019), 'The role of atypical constellations in the grammaticalization of German and English passives', Diachronica, vol 36, no 3 , pp 384 - 416.
  • Mailhammer, R. and Caudal, P. (2019), 'Linear lengthening intonation in English on Croker Island : identifying substrate origins', JournaLIPP, vol 6 , pp 40 - 56.
  • Mailhammer, R. and Zeidan, R. (2019), 'Cross-linguistic influence in bilingual productions of the English past tense in Arabic heritage speakers of Australian English', Linguistics Vanguard, vol 5, no 1 .
  • Harvey, M. and Mailhammer, R. (2018), 'Reconstructing remote relationships : proto-Australian noun class prefixation', Diachronica, vol 34, no 4 , pp 470 - 515.
  • Mailhammer, R. and Harvey, M. (2018), 'A reconstruction of the Proto-Iwaidjan phoneme system', Australian Journal of Linguistics, vol 38, no 3 , pp 329 - 359.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2017), 'Zur rekonstruktion der verbalprafixe im Amurdak', International Journal of Diachronic Linguistics and Linguistic Reconstruction, vol 14, no 1 , pp 1 - 30.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2016), 'Einfuhrung in die Phonetik und Phonologie des Deutschen, by Thomas Becker, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2012.', Journal of Germanic Linguistics, vol 28, no 3 , pp 273 - 278.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2016), 'Donka Minkova. A Historical Phonology of English. Edinburgh Textbooks on the English Language - Advanced', Anglia, vol 134, no 3 , pp 521 - 527.
  • Mailhammer, R., Kruger, W. and Makiyama, A. (2015), 'Type frequency influences phonological generalizations : eliminating stressed open syllables with short vowels in West Germanic', Journal of Germanic Linguistics, vol 27, no 3 , pp 205 - 237.
  • Gillon, C. and Mailhammer, R. (2015), 'Reanalyzing the morphology and semantics of verbal plural marking in Quechan', International Journal of American Linguistics, vol 81, no 4 , pp 573 - 593.
  • Koch, H., Mailhammer, R., Blust, R., Bowern, C., Daniels, D., Francois, A., Greenhill, S., Joseph, B., Reid, L., Ross, M. and Sidwell, P. (2014), 'Research priorities in historical-comparative linguistics : a view from Asia, Australia and the Pacific', Diachronica, vol 31, no 2 , pp 267 - 278.
  • Holman, E., Brown, C., Wichmann, S., Muller, A., Velupillai, V., Hammarstrom, H., Sauppe, S., Jung, H., Bakker, D., Brown, P., Belyaev, O., Urban, M., Mailhammer, R., Mattislist, J. and Egorov, D. (2011), 'Automated dating of the world's language families based on lexical similarity', Current Anthropology, vol 52, no 6 , pp 841 - 875.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2010), 'Die etymologische forschung und lehre auf dem gebiet des Germanischen in Deutschland am beginn des 21', Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia, vol 15 , pp 37 - 65.
  • Laker, S. and Mailhammer, R. (2009), 'Problems in english historical phonology : introduction', Anglia: Zeitschrift fuer Englische Philologie, vol 127, no 2 , pp 173 - 175.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2009), 'Thoughts on the genesis and the development of syllable cut in English', Anglia: Zeitschrift fuer Englische Philologie, vol 127, no 2 , pp 261 - 282.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2009), 'Towards an aspect-based analysis of the verb categories of Amurdak', Australian Journal of Linguistics, vol 29, no 3 , pp 349 - 391.
  • Mailhammer, R., Bakker, D., Belyaef, O., Brown, C., Brown, P., Egorov, D., Grant, A., Holman, E., Jung, H., Muller, A., Velupillai, V., Wichmann, S. and Yakpo, K. (2009), 'Adding typology to lexicostatistics : a combined approach to language classification', Linguistic Typology, vol 13, no 1 , pp 169 - 179.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2008), 'Ablaut variation in the Proto-Germanic noun : the long arm of the strong verbs', Sprachwissenschaft, vol 33, no 3 , pp 279 - 300.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2008), 'The wolf in sheep's clothing : camouflaged borrowing in modern German', Folia Linguistica, vol 42, no 1 , pp 177 - 193.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2007), 'Islands of Resilience: The history of the German strong verbs from a systemic point of view', Morphology, vol 17, no 1 , pp 77 - 108.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2006), 'On the origin of the Germanic strong verb system', Sprachwissenschaft, vol 31, no 1 , pp 1 - 52.
  • Mailhammer, R., Laker, S. and Vennemann, T. (2003), 'PGmc. +drepa-, Gm. treffen to hit', Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia, vol 8 , pp 103 - 110.

Conference Papers

  • Yu, J., Mailhammer, R. and Cutler, A. (2020), 'Vocabulary structure affects word recognition : evidence from German listeners', International Conference on Speech Prosody, Tokyo, Japan.
  • Carne, M., Chen, J., Luk, E., Strangways, S., Stockigt, C., Mailhammer, R. and Harvey, M. (2019), 'Rhotic contrasts in Arabana', International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Melbourne, Vic..
  • Mailhammer, R. (2014), 'Some answers and more puzzles : newly discovered modal categories and the history of the Iwaidjan verb system', Language Documentation and Linguistic Theory , University of London.
  • Mailhammer, R. and Smirnova, E. (2012), 'Same but different: pathways to the grammaticalization of passive constructions from the comparative perspective of English and German', New Reflections on Grammaticalisation 5, Edinburgh UK.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2012), '3. Syllable cut as a linguistic property at the intersection between segments, syllable structure, stress and phonotactics: synchrony and diachrony', TILL seminar series, University of Western Sydney, UWS Bankstown Campus.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2012), 'Phonetic transfer and network theory: on the sociophonetics of language contact', The Social Side of Speech Conference, University of Western Sydney, Bankstown Campus.
  • Mailhammer, R. and Gillon, C. (2012), 'Morphology And Semantics Of Plural Marking In The Quechan Verb', The Conference on Endangered Languages and Cultures of Native America (CELCNA), Utah USA.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2012), 'Reconstructing the Pre-Amurdak verb system: implications for subgrouping Iwaidjan', 11th Australian Languages Workshop., University of Qld.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2011), 'The meaning of regular is frequently irregular: remarks on the use of regular and irregular in morphology', 2nd Joint ASU/UofA Linguistic Symposium, Arizona State University.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2011), 'Indigenous grammatical influence on Aboriginal English in Northwestern Arnhem Land', 10th Australian Languages Workshop, North Stradbroke Island (QLD).
  • Mailhammer, R. and Smirnova, E. (2010), 'Sprung from a common source? The sources of passive constructions in English and German', 16th International Conference on English Historical Linguistics, Pecs, Hungary.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2009), 'A preliminary overview of the verb in Amurdak and other Iwaidjan languages', Annual Conference of the Australian Linguistics Society, Melbourne.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2009), 'Germanic etymology from a Non-Indo-European perspective: cumulative evidence', Germanic Linguistics Annual Conference (GLAC 15), Banff, Alberta, Canada.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2009), 'Applicative, malefactive, negation: Innovations of the Amurdak verb', 2009 Australian Languages Workshop, Australian National University, Kioloa.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2008), 'Ablaut variation in Proto-Germanic deverbal nouns', The 14th Germanic Linguistics Annual Conference, Madison, Wisconsin U.S.A..
  • Mailhammer, R. (2008), 'Synchronic and diachronic aspects of verbal object representation in Amurdak', 2008 Australian Languages Workshop, Australian National University, Kioloa.
  • Mailhammer, R. (2006), 'Loss of aspectual categories and the transformation of verbal systems due to language contact: From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic', Chronos 7: International conference on tense, aspect, mood, and modality, University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Current Projects

Title: Iwaidja ethnomedicine and oral history
  • Aboriginal Resource and Development Services Aboriginal Corporation
  • University of Western Sydney
  • Mamaruni School
  • Laboratoire de Linguistique Formelle (CNRS and University of Paris)
  • Minjilang Clinic
Western Researchers: Robert Mailhammer
Years: 2019-12-01 - 2024-12-31
ID: P00026208
Title: The building blocks of language: Words in Central Australian languages
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Robert Mailhammer
Years: 2022-01-03 - 2024-12-31
ID: P00027111
Title: 1 potato, 2 wotatoes, 3 otatoes: Lexical access in Australian languages [via UoN]
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
  • University of Western Sydney
Western Researchers: Robert Mailhammer
Years: 2019-01-01 - 2023-12-31
ID: P00024854

Previous Projects

Title: Reconstructing Australia's linguistic past: Are all Australian languages related to one another? [via Uni of Newcastle]
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Robert Mailhammer
Years: 2014-03-18 - 2019-06-30
ID: P00021889
Title: Research Event - Workshop on the phonetics and phonology of Australian Indigenous languages
  • Australasian Speech Science & Technology Association
Western Researchers: Robert Mailhammer, Jason Shaw and Catherine Best
Years: 2013-06-13 - 2013-06-14
ID: P00021030
Title: The Indigenous Grammar of Aboriginal English: Implications for Contact Linguistics
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Robert Mailhammer
Years: 2013-06-21 - 2017-12-31
ID: P00020838
Title: A Field Manual for ultrasound research [via ANU CoE]
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Robert Mailhammer
Years: 2016-05-01 - 2017-08-31
ID: P00023478
Title: Linguistic reconstruction in the age of Bayes
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Robert Mailhammer
Years: 2018-07-01 - 2020-10-31
ID: P00025224
Title: Documentation of Amurdak, an endangered language from Northern Arnhem Land (Australia)
  • School of Oriental and African Studies - University of London
Western Researchers: Robert Mailhammer
Years: 2012-04-01 - 2013-01-01
ID: P00020698
Title: A cross-linguistic investigation of the factors affecting ethnobiological knowledge transmission in Arnhem Land - Dr Aung Si [via ANU]
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Robert Mailhammer
Years: 2019-07-01 - 2019-12-31
ID: P00025949


Professor Mailhammer is available to be a principal supervisor for doctoral projects

Current Supervision

Thesis Title: Cultural-linguistic Practices in Palembangnese Humour and Directives in Indonesia: A Discourse Analysis
Field of Research: Society And Culture; Southeast Asian Languages; Linguistics
Thesis Title: Linguistic contact in Sulawesi
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Multilingualism and Education in Nepal: A study of the effects of mother tongue medium multilingual education in improving a child's learning outcomes and the barriers to its successful implementation
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Syntactic and Morphological Analysis of Rohingya
Field of Research:

Previous Supervision

Thesis Title: The Effectiveness of Home Language Medium Instruction on Improving Primary School Students' Mathematical Performance
Field of Research: Teacher Education: Primary
Thesis Title: Believing is Seeing: Awareness and Alignment in the Acquisition and Communication of Social Meaning
Field of Research: Linguistics
Thesis Title: A Corpus-Based Study of N1-N2 Words in Archaic Chinese
Field of Research: Creative Arts, N.e.c.

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