Joe Blythe


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Personal profile


Joe Blythe is an Interactional Linguist specialising in Australian Indigenous languages.  He conducts field research on the Murrinhpatha language of the Northern Territory and on the Gija and Jaru languages from northern Western Australia.

Joe is interested in the relationships between linguistic structure and social action, and what these relationships reveal about social cognition and culture. He is concerned with how interlocutors coordinate with each other in making themselves understood, and in how they package their talk, gaze and gestures, etc., as moves directed towards interactional goals. He is especially interested in what social interaction reveals about why words and constructions are structured the way they are. Thus, do particular structures reveal affordances for delivering particular actions? Are these structures better adapted than alternative structures for delivering the desired actions? Can constraints on language use be observed to be driving structural and semantic change?

Research interests

  • Australian Aboriginal Languages
  • Conversation Analysis and Interactional Linguistics
  • Gesture
  • Kinship
  • Child Language Acquisition
  • Language Evolution


Research Projects

  • Multiparty conversation in Gija, an endangered language of the East Kimberley, WA

A MQNS funded project to build a video corpus of Gija conversation. 

  • Acquiring Kinship Terminology in an Australian Aboriginal Community.

This project investigates how Murrinhpatha speaking children acquire the lexicon and grammar of kinship. (ARC DECRA project DE130100399)

This project studies the acquisition of the polysynthetic language Murrinhpatha (Wadeye, NT) by children from 2-6 years. (ARC Discovery project DP110100961, with Jill Wigglesworth, Barbara Kelly, Rachel Nordlinger).


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  • 6 Similar Profiles
language Social Sciences
conversation Social Sciences
kinship Social Sciences
interaction Social Sciences
linguistics Social Sciences
speaking Social Sciences
reference person Social Sciences
structuration Social Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2016 2022

Research Output 2001 2018

Egocentric and allocentric learning of social-indexical meaning in American English, Datooga, and Murrinhpatha

Rácz, P., Mitchell, A. & Blythe, J. 2018 CogSci 2018: Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Rogers, T., Rau, M., Zhu, J. & Kalish, C. (eds.). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society, p. 2303-2308 6 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution

Open Access
social learning

Genesis of the trinity: the convergent evolution of trirelational kinterms

Blythe, J. 2018 Skin, kin and clan: the dynamics of social categories in Indigenous Australia. McConvell, P., Kelly, P. & Lacrampe, S. (eds.). Canberra: ANU epress, p. 431-471 41 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Open Access

Gija plants and animals: Aboriginal flora and fauna knowledge from the east Kimberley, north Australia

Purdie, S., Patrick, P., Nyadbi, L., Thomas, P., Fletcher, D., Barrett, G., Ramsey, M., Watbi, D., Martin, M., Thomas, M., Thomas, M., Widalji, P., Kofod, F., Thomas, S., Mung Mung, P., Peters, R., Blythe, J. & Wightman, G. 2018 Batchelor; Palmerston: Northern Territory Government - Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 251 p. (Northern Territory Botanical Bulletin; no. 47)

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Future Generations

Tools of Engagement: selecting a next speaker in Australian Aboriginal multiparty conversations

Blythe, J., Gardner, R., Mushin, I. & Stirling, L. 2018 In : Research on Language and Social Interaction. 51, 2, p. 145-170 26 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Universals and cultural diversity in the expression of gratitude

Floyd, S., Rossi, G., Baranova, J., Blythe, J., Dingemanse, M., Kendrick, K. H., Zinken, J. & Enfield, N. J. 23 May 2018 In : Royal Society Open Science. 5, 5, p. 1-9 9 p., 180391

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
cultural diversity
everyday life
Italian language
social effects