Doctor Rachel Hendery

Doctor Rachel Hendery

Associate Professor Digital Humanities,
Dean's Unit - School Of Humanities & Comm Arts


I am a linguist who works on language contact and change, particularly in the Pacific, and how new digital tools and techniques allow us to research these in new ways. I am interested in supervising postgraduate projects on historical linguistics, contact linguistics, typology, or in digital humanities areas, especially relating to mapping, simulation, language, virtual reality, and data visualisation. I would be excited to supervise further research students who wish to pursue a topic relating to any of those interests.

My undergraduate degree was a BA in linguistics and German, at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. I then completed an MA in Comparative Linguistics and German Medieval Literature at the Johann-Goethe University in Frankfurt (Main), Germany, followed by a year in Aarhus, Denmark, where I worked informally with Peter Bakker on several projects. 

My PhD at the Australian National University was a historical typological project, looking at change in relative clauses constructions cross-linguistically. While this uncovered some interesting trends in grammatical change, and the following project on which I worked, collating and mapping kinship terms in Australian languages, uncovered interesting connections between social and linguistic change, these findings made me curious to look more closely at the mechanisms of change in a detailed case study. For this I chose the small island of Palmerston, in the Cook Islands, as it is a small isolated community that speaks an unusual English dialect or creole. I spent three years trying to understand the history of this variety and the island that has created it, analysing the social networks of the present and past, and the variation in the language, both diachronically and synchronically.

In the process of carrying out the research described above, I developed an interest in digital methods for mapping, modelling, visualising and disseminating linguistic and cultural research. This has led me to the exciting new community of digital humanities, where researchers across the humanities and social sciences meet to cross-pollinate their research with methods and ideas from computer science, the hard sciences, and each other. And where we make fun stuff.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Hendery.


  • PhD The Australian National University

Professional Memberships

  • Australian Linguistics Society (2005 - 2023)


  • Agent-Based Simulation
  • Australian languages
  • Databases
  • Digital Humanities
  • Historical Linguistics
  • Linguistics
  • Mapping
  • Pacific languages
  • Sociolinguistics
  • language contact

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • Dean's Unit - School Of Humanities & Comm Arts


  • DH2015 planning committee
  • SHCA School Work Plan Committee
  • Australasian Association for Digital Humanities
  • Australian Computational Linguistics Olympiad


Phone: (02) 9683 8164
Location: ED.G.81

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Previous Teaching Areas

  • 101948 Structure of Language, 2017
  • 102299 Text, Media and Memory, 2015
  • 102410 Digital Cultures, 2017
  • 102412 Global Digital Futures, 2016
  • 300694 Advanced Topics in ICT, 2015
  • 300694 Advanced Topics in ICT, 2016



  • Hendery, R. (2015), 'One Man is an Island: The Speech Community William Marsters Begat on Palmerston Island', : Battlebridge Publications 9781903292297.
  • Hendery, R. (2012), 'Relative Clauses in Time and Space: A Case Study in the Methods of Diachronic Typology', : John Benjamins 9789027206824.

Chapters in Books

  • Schapper, A., San Roque, L. and Hendery, R. (2016), 'Tree, firewood and fire in the languages of Sahul', The Lexical Typology of Semantic Shifts, De Gruyter 9783110377521.
  • Hendery, R. (2016), ''Writing about music is like dancing about architecture' : integration of multimedia into linguistic and anthropological publications', Language, Land and Song: Studies in Honour of Luise Hercus, EL Publishing 9780728604063.
  • Hendery, R., Muhlhausler, P. and Nash, J. (2015), '"Sometime is lies" : narrative and identity in two mixed-origin island languages', Narrative and Identity Construction in the Pacific Islands, John Benjamins 9789027249340.
  • Hendery, R. (2015), 'Palmerston Island English', Further Studies in the Lesser-known Varieties of English, Cambridge University Press 9781107021204.
  • Schapper, A. and Hendery, R. (2014), 'Wersing', The Papuan Languages of Timor, Alor and Pantar. Volume 1, Sketch Grammars, Mouton de Gruyter 9781614517238.
  • Hendery, R. (2013), 'Constructional etymology : the sources of relative clauses', Lexical and Structural Etymology: Beyond Word Histories, De Gruyter 9781614510598.
  • Hendery, R. and McConvell, P. (2013), 'Mama and papa in Indigenous Australia', Kinship Systems: Change and Reconstruction, The University of Utah Press 9781607812449.
  • Hendery, R. and Ehrhart, S. (2012), 'Palmerston Island English', Mouton World Atlas of Variation in English, De Gruyter 9783110279887.
  • Hendery, R. (2010), 'Grammaticalisation of discourse marking elements in relative clauses', Grammatical Change: Theory and Description, Australian National University Press 9780858836082.

Journal Articles

  • McConvell, P. and Hendery, R. (2017), 'What is 'Kariera'? : detecting systems and overlap in Australian kinship using the AustKin database', Oceania, vol 87, no 2 , pp 188 - 208.
  • Hendery, R. (2016), 'Grammatical change in the Pacific. Frank Lichtenberk : in memoriam', Australian Journal of Linguistics, vol 36, no 3 , pp 297 - 303.
  • Hendery, R. (2016), 'Untangling synchronic and diachronic variation : verb agreement in Palmerston English', Australian Journal of Linguistics, vol 36, no 3 , pp 429 - 450.
  • Hendery, R. (2016), 'Populating the landscape with absent friends : the use of personal names in Palmerston Island toponyms', Island Studies, vol 11, no 2 , pp 359 - 368.
  • Hendery, R. (2013), 'Early documents from Palmerston Island and their implications for the origins of Palmerston English', Journal of Pacific History, vol 48, no 3 , pp 309 - 322.
  • Hendery, R. (2012), 'The relationship between language ideology and language change in a small, isolated community : the case of Palmerston Island', Te Reo, vol 55 , pp 25 - 49.
  • Dousset, L., Hendery, R., Bowern, C., Koch, H. and McConvell, P. (2010), 'Developing a database for Australian Indigenous kinship terminology : the AustKin project', Australian Aboriginal Studies, vol 1 , pp 42 - 56.

Conference Papers

  • Tran, J., Nguyen, Q., Jones, C., Hendery, R. and Simoff, S. (2017), 'CorpusViz : child and adult speech visualisation', International Conference on Information Visualisation, London, U.K..


  • 2016, 'PARADISEC Interactive 2016'

Other Publications

  • 2017, 'Keeping Strong: Digital Technology, Participatory Research, and Young People's Wellbeing Amongst Alice Springs Town Camp Communities', Research Report

My research interests are primarily language change and linguistic typology, and I have worked on several large interdisciplinary projects using digital technologies to enable visualisation and correlation of patterns of linguistic and social change. I would be excited to supervise research students who wish to pursue a topic relating to any of those interests.

I lead the ARC Discovery Project "Waves of Words, mapping and modelling Australia's Pacific Past", which aims to find new ways to integrate and visualise evidence from linguistics, anthropology, and archaeology in order to better understand Australia's connections with various parts of the Pacific during the Holocene and beyond. Other CIs and PIs on the project include computer scientists, anthropologists, linguists and archaeologists, both in Australia and France. We are currently looking for RAs and PhD students to work with us on this project.

I am currently a CI on an ARC Linkage Project "Howitt & Fison’s anthropology: using new methods to reveal hidden riches," which in collaboration with Aboriginal researchers and stakeholders will analyse Lorimer Fison and A. W. Howitt’s 19th century accounts of kinship, social organisation and local languages of Victoria, as well as the historical encounters between settlers and Indigenous peoples, presenting the findings in digital formats. 

Other recent projects included a Western Sydney Women's Research Fellowship to conduct a pilot project, mapping grammatical change in the Pacific and its relationship with cultural and social change; and a Centre of Excellence for Language Dynamics (COEDL) transdisciplinary and innovation grant to investigate Virtual Reality and Immersive representations of linguistic data. Together with a group of researchers from ICS I recently received a Google Research Award to explore innovative uses of Internet of Things technology around Western Sydney University.

In 2014 I completed an ARC Discovery Project and fellowship: "Change in language, culture and identity in a small isolated speech community: Palmerston Island English". This project investigated the evolution of an English dialect spoken by the 54 descendants of an Englishman and his three Polynesian wives who settled a tiny island in the Cook Islands group in the 1860s.

I have conducted linguistic fieldwork in East Timor, Indonesia and the Cook Islands, and also have carried out archival research on Australian Indigenous languages. I am the author of  One Man is an Island (Battlebridge 2015), Relative clauses in time and space: a case study in the methods of diachronic typology (Benjamins 2012) and co-editor of the volumes Grammatical change: theory and description (Pacific Linguistics 2010) and Change in kinship systems (University of Utah Press 2013).

This information has been contributed by Doctor Hendery.

Current Projects

Title: Howitt & Fison's anthropology: using new methods to reveal hidden riches [via Deakin Uni]
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Rachel Hendery
Years: 2016-12-07 - 2019-12-06
ID: P00023143
Title: Mapping Print, Charting Enlightenment
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Simon Burrows, Jason Ensor and Rachel Hendery
Years: 2016-06-13 - 2019-06-12
ID: P00022619
Title: Waves of words: mapping and modelling Australia's Pacific ties
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Rachel Hendery and Simeon Simoff
Years: 2018-01-01 - 2020-12-31
ID: P00023855

Previous Projects

Title: A 3D walkthrough of linguistic space and time [via ANU CoE]
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Rachel Hendery
Years: 2015-07-20 - 2016-12-31
ID: P00022890
Title: Ageing Creatively: Creative Writing as a Tool for Healthy Ageing
  • University of Western Sydney
Western Researchers: Anthony Uhlmann, Paul Arthur, Christopher Davis, Denis Burnham, Esther Chang, Jason Ensor, Rachel Hendery, Rachel Morley and Melinda Jewell
Years: 2015-03-01 - 2016-06-30
ID: P00022526


Current Supervision

Thesis Title: Syntactic and Morphological Analysis of Rohingya
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Antartic Cities and the Global Commons
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Intelligent Visualisation for Social Network
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: An Investigation of the use of Compliments and Compliment Responses by Young Saudi Arabians
Field of Research:


Title: Palmerston English
Description: Dataset in the Electronic World Atlas of Varieties of English

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