Maia Ponsonnet


  • The University of Western Australia (M257), 35 Stirling Highway, Social Sciences Building, Room 2.47

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


I joined the Linguistics Department at UWA’s School of Social Sciences in 2017. My current research project, funded by a Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA, Australian Research Council) concerns expressivity and the encoding of emotions in language, with a particular interest in Indigenous Australian languages.


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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