My contributions to linguistics have spanned different sub-disciplines: from theoretical, formal and computational grammar, to typology and descriptive and documentary linguistics. All of my projects involve international collaborations with institutions in Australia, Indonesia, the UK, US and NZ, and locally with language communities.
My research aims to generate a deep understanding of how grammar works, and to investigate how it can be explicitly modelled so as to produce a precise, empirically well-motivated description or analysis with theoretical, typological, and practical significance. I have immersed myself in linguistic theory, typology, and descriptive and documentary linguistics, with particular focus on the numerous and diverse languages of Indonesia. I have also cultivated skills in corpus development and data management.
My theoretical work is mainly within the Lexical-Functional Grammar framework. My work in this area includes implementing LFG on Indonesian languages, outlining the challenges this poses and developing an LFG-based computational grammar of Indonesian. Funded by a grant from the Indonesian government, I have examined the core properties of eastern Indonesian languages, including Papuan languages. With a follow-up NSF project (2007-2009), I have demonstrated the theoretical implications of the Austronesian voice system in eastern Indonesia, highlighting its gradual demise (Arka, 2009). With grants from the ARC and ELDP, I recently work on the Papuan languages of Merauke and have published papers on a range of topics; e.g, discussing the unusual complexity of the number system in Marori and the possible far-reaching implications it has in linguistic theory.
I have done fieldwork in remote parts of eastern Indonesia, organising training in Indonesia as part of my capacity-building efforts in Indonesia.