Maia Ponsonnet


  • The University of Western Australia (M257), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Personal profile


I am currently an Adjunct with UWA’s Linguistics Discipline (School of Social Sciences). I transitioned to an Adjunct role when I left my Senior Lecturer position with UWA (2017-2021) to join the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Lyon (Dynamique du Langage), in early 2022. During my time at UWA I served as a Linguistics Discipline Chair (2019-2020) and as a School Graduate Research Coordinator (2020-2021).


I hold a PhD in Linguistics from the Australian National University (2010-2013). After my PhD, I was a post-doctoral position in CNRS for 2 years (2014-2015), before winning an ARC DECRA Fellowship in 2016. I started this Fellowship at the University of Sydney (2016-2017), and completed it UWA (2017-2018).


My research concerns expressivity and emotions in language, i.e. the way humans talk about  emotions using words, metaphors, as well as 'expressive' resources such as interjections or melodic contours.  I study how languages in Australia and around the world differ or converge in this respect, how this ties up (or not) with cultural differences, and how the use of language can shape or channel emotional experience.

I have extensive experience working with speakers of Indigenous languages in communities of central/western Arnhem Land and around the town of Katherine in the Australian Northern Territory. I have linguistic and ethnographic expertise on several languages of the Gunwinyguan family in Western Arnhem Land, namely Dalabon, Rembarrnga (both severely endangered) as well as Bininj Kun-wok dialects (Kunwinjku and Kune) and Kriol.


Bininj Kun-wok dialects (Kunwinjku and Kune)

Research expertise keywords

  • language
  • expressivity
  • Australian indigenous languages
  • emotions
  • typology
  • semantics


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