Peter Austin (linguist)
Peter Kenneth Austin, often cited as Peter K. Austin, is an Australian linguist, widely published in the fields of language documentation, syntax, linguistic typology and in particular, endangered languages and language revitalisation. After a long academic career in Australia, Hong Kong, the US, Japan, Germany and the UK, Austin is emeritus professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (SOAS), since retiring in January 2019.
|Alma mater||Australian National University (BA, PhD)|
|Thesis||A grammar of the Diyari language of north-east South Australia (1978)|
|Institutions||SOAS, University of London|
Education and careerEdit
After completing a BA degree with first class Honours in Asian Studies (Japanese and Linguistics) in 1974, Austin earned his PhD with his thesis entitled A grammar of the Diyari language of north-east South Australia at the Australian National University (ANU) in 1978.
He then taught at the University of Western Australia, held a Harkness Fellowship at UCLA and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1979–80, and in 1981 set up the Department of Linguistics at La Trobe University in Melbourne. He held visiting appointments at Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics at Nijmegen, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, University of Hong Kong, and Stanford University, and was Foundation Professor of Linguistics at the University of Melbourne from 1996 to 2002.
He became the Märit Rausing Chair in Field Linguistics in January 2003 and then Emeritus Professor in Field Linguistics at SOAS, before retiring in January 2019. Throughout his career, Austin has been deeply involved in work to salvage languages that are otherwise on the verge of extinction.
As of June 2019[update], during his retirement, he has been working with colleagues at University of Warsaw and Leiden University on an EU Horizon2020 Twinning collaboration called the Engaged Humanities project. He has also been working with Stefanie Pillai of the University of Malaya, on a research project in Malaysia.
He has done fieldwork on several Australian Aboriginal languages, particularly those from northern New South Wales ( such as Gamilaraay/Kamilaroi), northern South Australia, and north-west Western Australia, publishing several bilingual dictionaries. These included, in collaboration with David Nathan, the first fully page-formatted hypertext dictionary of an Australian language, with the creation of the 1994 Gamilaraay online dictionary.
He has worked extensively and intensively on the Dieri (Diyari) language of northern SA. He first learned Diyari in 1974, from a retired cattle station hand, Leslie Russell, whom he encountered in Marree, South Australia. Russell died the following year. Along with Luise Hercus and David Trefry, he did much research on the language in the 1970s. Austin published a grammar of Diyari in 1981.
From 2011 he worked with the Dieri Aboriginal Corporation on revitalisation of the language. In 2013 he published a draft Diyari dictionary, writing in the preface that a companion grammar was also available, and that a text collection was in preparation. In 2014 he published an article "And they still speak Dieri", in which he wrote of the unique place of the language, as the subject of intensive interest by outsiders as well as native speakers for nearly 140 years, and that not only is it not extinct, but it is living and being maintained for the future.
In 2002 Austin won the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Humboldt Research Award and in 2010 the Humboldt Prize, allowing him to do perform research at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt as a visiting professor.
On 30 January 2015 Austin received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Languages at Uppsala University for playing 'a crucial international part in drawing attention to endangered languages by emphasising the importance of documenting the human cultural heritage represented by the thousands of languages at risk of vanishing in the near future. His motto that "every lost word means yet another lost world" has boosted schools' and the public's interest in endangered languages.' 
- Austin, Peter Kenneth (February 1978). "A grammar of the Diyari language of north-east South Australia". ANU: Open Research Library. Canberra. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
- Austin, Peter. "Ngayana Diyari Yawarra Yathayilha: Supporting the Dieri language".
- Austin, Peter; Nathan, David. "Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay Dictionary".
- Austin, Peter K. (17 August 2008). "Peter K Austin's top 10 endangered languages". The Guardian.
- Austin, Peter K. (2013). "A Dictionary of Diyari,South Australia" (pdf).
- Austin, Peter (2014). "And still they speak Diyari: the life history of an endangered language". Ethnorema. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
- Austin, Peter (2015). "And still they speak Diyari: the life history of an endangered language" (pdf). Retrieved 16 June 2019.
- "Curriculum Vitae (Peter K. Austin)". SOAS. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
- Dixon, R. M. W. (2002). Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-47378-1.
- Dixon, R. M. W. (2011). Searching for Aboriginal Languages: Memoirs of a Field Worker. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-02504-1.
- Langton, Marcia (2012). "The Diaspora and the Return: History and Memory in Cape York Peninsula, Australia". In Hendry, Joy; Fitznor, Laara (eds.). Anthropologists, Indigenous Scholars and the Research Endeavour: Seeking Bridges Towards Mutual Respect. Routledge. pp. 171–184. ISBN 978-1-136-33115-2.
- "Peter K. Austin at The Linguistic Summer Institute 2015". 2015.
- "Professor Peter Austin BA (AS) Hons, PhD (ANU)". SOAS. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
- "Professor Peter Austin". Gresham College. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
- "Search results, Peter Austin". Engaged Humanities. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
- "Two new honorary doctors at Faculty of Languages". Uppsala University. 16 October 2014.