Plenary speakers

Joan Bybee (New Mexico)
Lisa Lim (Hong Kong / Sydney)
Monika Bednarek (Sydney)
Natalia Levshina (Leipzig)
Raj Mesthrie (Cape Town)

Monika Bednarek is Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Sydney. She has authored six books, most recently Language and Television Series: A Linguistic Approach to TV Dialogue (Cambridge University Press, 2018, and The Discourse of News Values: How News Organizations Create Newsworthiness (Oxford University Press, 2017, with Helen Caple; Her research interests include corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, media linguistics, sociolinguistics, and the linguistic expression of emotion and attitude. She uses both quantitative and qualitative methods, and has published in a wide range of corpus linguistic and discourse analytical journals. She is co-editor of Functions of Language and tweets @corpusling.

Natalia Levshina is a postdoctoral researcher at Leipzig University, Germany. Her research interests are corpora, quantitative methods, cognitive and functional linguistics, typology and language variation. She received her PhD in linguistics from the KULeuven. At the moment, she is investigating how universal cognitive and pragmatic constraints shape human languages, in particular, the role of communicative efficiency and probabilistic information from discourse in determining the form and the meaning of linguistic constructions. Natalia has been developing ParTy, a parallel corpus of subtitles for cross-linguistic comparisons. She is the author of a manual “How to Do Linguistics with R: Data exploration and statistical analysis” (2015) and has taught numerous courses in statistics and R all over Europe.

Joan Bybee is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Linguistics at the University of New Mexico. Her research focuses on theoretical issues in phonology, morphology, language universals and linguistic change. Her work utilizing large cross-linguistic databases, e.g. Morphology: A study of the relation between Meaning and Form (Benjamins, 1985), The Evolution of Grammar: Tense, Aspect and Modality in the Languages of the World (with Perkins and Pagliuca, University of Chicago Press, 1994), provide diachronic explanations for typological phenomena. Her books presenting a usage-based perspective on synchrony and diachrony include Phonology and Language Use (Cambridge University Press, 2001) and Frequency of Use and the Organization of language (Oxford University Press, 2007), Language, Usage and Cognition (Cambridge University Press, 2010). In 2015 Language Change appeared in the Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics Series. Professor Bybee served as the President of the Linguistic Society of America in 2004 and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oslo in 2005. She is a Fellow of the LSA and the Cognitive Science Society.

Lisa Lim is an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney, having held positions previously at the National University of Singapore, the University of Amsterdam, and the University of Hong Kong. Her current research interests centre around New Englishes, especially postcolonial Asian varieties in multilingual ecologies, such as Singapore and Hong Kong; issues of language shift, endangerment, revitalisation, and post-vernacular vitality in minority and endangered language communities, such as the Peranakans in Singapore and the Malays of Sri Lanka; and the sociolinguistics of globalisation, with interests in mobility, urban multilingualism, computer-mediated communication, and their impact on contact dynamics. She is co-author of Languages in Contact  (Cambridge University Press, 2016, with Umberto Ansaldo), co-editor of The Multilingual Citizen (Multilingual Matters, 2018), and founding co-editor (with Umberto Ansaldo) of the journal Language Ecology. One of her most engaging projects, since 2016, is her fortnightly ‘Language Matters’ column for the South China Morning Post’s Sunday Post Magazine (

Rajend Mesthrie is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Cape Town, where he holds a National Research Foundation (NRF) chair in Migration, Language and Social Change.  He also holds an NRF A-rating as a researcher in the field of Linguistics since 2008.  He is a past head of the Linguistics Section at UCT (1998-2009), a past President of the Linguistics Society of Southern Africa (2001-2009), past co-editor of English Today, and President of the International Congress of Linguists (ICL20) held in Cape Town, July 2018. Amongst his publications are Language in South Africa (ed., CUP 2002), World Englishes (with Rakesh Bhatt, CUP 2008), A Dictionary of South African Indian English (UCT Press, 2010) and the widely used textbook Introducing Sociolinguistics (EUP 2009, 2nd ed., with Swann, Deumert & Leap).  His most recent article on deracialisation and new class formation among young South Africans was published in Language, the journal of the Linguistic Society of America.  He has undertaken research and conference visits and lectured widely in inter alia India, the USA, the UK, the EU (including Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Holland), the Caribbean and within Africa (including Mauritius, Kenya, Tanzania and Cameroon).