Place-names of Indigenous Origin:
An Interdisciplinary Workshop


A one-day workshop on Place-names of Indigenous origin in Australia will be held at the Australian National University, Canberra, on Sunday 31st October 1999.

The workshop is sponsored by AUSTRALEX, (the Australasian Association for Lexicography), the National Place Names Project and Australian Language Research Centre (Department of English, University of Sydney). The importance of place-name study lies in the light it sheds on the cultural history that is the heritage of all Australians. Many place-names in Australia are drawn from Indigenous languages (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages). Researching place-names of Indigenous origin in Australia requires an understanding of Indigenous principles of naming places, of the colonial practices of bestowing names, of the application of names to geographic entities, and for each name the historical circumstances of its bestowal.

The task of understanding place-names brings together people versed in indigenous knowledge, in language, ethnography, history and geography. The central focus remains the understanding of the meaning of the place-name at the time of bestowal and its subsequent history. However, place-name study raises issues that range from contemporary ownership and the use of place-name evidence in native title claims, to the application of philological methods for the renaming of places with indigenous names (as is happening at present in the CIty of Adelaide).

All interested researchers are invited to submit expressions of interest for papers to be read at the conference, by mail on the form below to:

Dr Jane Simpson
Department of Linguistics F12
University of Sydney, NSW 2006
Dr Luise Hercus
Linguistics, Arts
110 Baldessin Bldg
The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200
or by e-mail giving the same information to or
Papers should be 20-25 minutes in length, but suggestions of other activities for the workshop are welcomed.

All proposals will be assessed by the conference committee; they should be received by 3rd September.

We intend to publish the proceedings of the conference.

The workshop has been timed to follow the AUSTRALEX conference on 30th October (for details see This conference in turn follows the conference "Who's centric now? The present state of post-colonial Englishes", hosted by the Australian National Dictionary Centre, Oxford University Press, and the Humanities Research Centre, ANU, from Wednesday 27th to Friday 29th October. For details of that conference please contact Leena Messina, Programs Office, Humanities Research Centre, ANU, Canberra, ACT 0200; phone + 61 2 6249 4357; fax +61 2 6248 0054; email

Name: _____________________________________________________________________

Position/institution (if applicable): _______________________________________________

Address for correspondence: ____________________________________________________

Phone: ______________________  Fax: ______________________

Email: ________________________

Title of proposed paper: _______________________________________________________

Abstract (100 words):

Equipment required: __________________________________________________________

Australex 1999 conference page

Australex home page