Academic Profile

Academic Profile

Prof Randy John La Polla

Professor, School of Humanities
Coordinator for SoH Intercultural Contact and Interaction Research Cluster, School of Humanities (SoH)

Prof Randy John La Polla

Prof. LaPolla received his PhD in Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1990. He joined HSS as a tenured Professor at the beginning of August, 2012. Before joining NTU he was Chair (Professor) of Linguistics at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia (2004-2012). He was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy for the Humanities in 2008, and President of the Australian Linguistic Society for 2007-2009. He was also Head of the Linguistics Program during most of his tenure at La Trobe, as well as Director of the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at La Trobe 2008-2010. Before moving to Australia he worked at the Academia Sinica (1990-1998) and City University of Hong Kong (1996-2004). His research focuses on the history and typology of Sino-Tibetan languages and issues related to the nature of communicative behaviour. He has many years of experience in administration and service work of many different types, including editing journals and serving on major grant agency panels.
Research Interests
Sino-Tibetan Linguistics
Linguistic Typology
Historical linguistics (including Grammaticalization and Sino-Tibetan reconstruction)
Functional Syntax (esp. Role & Reference Grammar and Systemic Functional Grammar)
Pragmatics (particularly Relevance Theory)
Anthropological Linguistics (Asian languages on which I have done fieldwork: Cambodian, Chinese dialects [Southern Fujian, Beijing subdialects, Shanghai, Guangzhou dialects], Dulong [1st Township, 3rd Township, 4th Township, Nujiang dialects], Qiang [Ronghong, Qugu dialects], Rawang [Mvtwang, Dvru dialects], Tagalog, Vietnamese.)
Current Projects
  • Documentation of Zhongshan Min: Sustainability of dialectal islands in modernizing China
  • Ethnolinguistic contact across the Indo-Myanmar-Southwestern China mountains: migration routes, intercultural interactions, and linguistic outcomes
Selected Publications
  • LaPolla, Randy J. (2017). Causation as a Factor and Goal in Typological Comparisons. Linguistic Typology, 21(3), 547-554.
  • LaPolla, Randy J (罗仁地). (2017). 尊重语言事实 提倡科学方法--21世纪语言学刍议 (Respecting language facts and promoting scientific methodology--21st century linguistics).《光明日报》(Guangming Daily), 2017.12.03.
  • LaPolla, Randy J. (2017, November). On the concept of word families and its use in Sino-Tibetan historical linguistics. Paper presented at Invited Keynote presentation to 50th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics, Beijing.
  • LaPolla, Randy J. (2017, June). The Debate on Comparative Categories (Concepts) in Typology and Possible Reasons for the Different Positions. Paper presented at Invited Keynote presented to the 3rd Biannual International Conference on Linguistic Typology, Shanghai International Studies University.
  • LaPolla, Randy J. (2017). On the Structure of the Clause in Proto-Sino-Tibetan and Its Development in the Daughter Languages. Invited Keynote presented to the Conference on the Ancestry of the Chinese Language.

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