Academic Profile

Academic Profile

Assoc Prof Alexander Robertson Coupe

Associate Professor
Linguistics and Multilingual Studies
School of Humanities
College of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences

Phone: (+65)65921567
Office: HSS-03-56

  • PhD (Ling) La Trobe University 2004
  • MA (Ling) The Australian National University 1999
  • Bach of Asian Studies (Thai) (Hons) The Australian National University 1995
Dr Alexander (Alec) R. Coupe joined the Division of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in June 2009 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in March 2014. He earned his Ph.D. from La Trobe University in 2004 and his Master of Arts and Bachelor of Asian Studies with Honours from the Australian National University in 1999 and 1995 respectively. He was Principal Investigator of an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship for the period 2004-2007, during which he investigated aspects of the grammar of Tibeto-Burman languages. Between completing this fellowship and taking up his present position, he taught linguistics at La Trobe University. He is the author of two books, including the critically acclaimed 'Grammar of Mongsen Ao' (Mouton Grammar Library), various journal articles and book chapters on the languages of Asia, and has edited two special issues of journal volumes. In 2016 he was awarded a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers and was affliated to the University of Cologne, where he undertook research on language contact and convergence in South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Alexander Coupe was the editor of the internationally peer-reviewed journal ‘Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area’ (now published by John Benjamins) for the period 2012-2017, he has served as a reviewer for the journals ‘Lingua’, ‘Diachronica’, 'Studies in Language', 'Journal of the International Phonetic Association', 'Linguistics', 'Language & Linguistics', 'Himalayan Linguistics', and ‘Journal of the South East Asian Linguistics Society’, and he has reviewed manuscripts and book proposals for Oxford University Press, Mouton de Gruyter and Springer. He is also regularly requested to review grant applications for the Endangered Languages Documentation Project (UK), the Australian Research Council, the National Science foundation (USA), and the World Oral Literature Project (UK). He is a member of the Association for Linguistic Typology and the Australian Linguistics Society.
Research Interests
Alexander Coupe's major contributions to linguistic research have focused upon the languages of the South Asia/Southeast Asia region. In addition to documenting the grammars of minority and endangered languages – particularly those spoken in Northeast India – he has investigated evidence of contact and linguistic convergence between Austroasiatic, Dravidian, Indo-Aryan and Tibeto-Burman languages. This fieldwork-based research is driven by a desire to record and analyse the grammars of poorly understood minority languages, to determine their genetic relationships, to document them for posterity, and to collaborate with speakers to create orthographies for dictionaries and reading books. The output of this work feeds another research goal: to seek functional and diachronic explanations for the structural diversity and commonalities found in human language, and to advance knowledge in the field of linguistic typology.

Specific areas of research interest include the analysis of tone systems, phonetics and phonology, the role of pragmatics in grammar, case-marking systems, morphosyntax, clause linkage, nominalization, grammaticalization, language contact and lexicography.
Current Projects
  • Archeological Linguistics and the Prehistory of Northeast India: Reconstructing the Past Through Ancient Technologies and Practices, and Correlating the Results with Migration Histories
  • Ethnolinguistic contact across the Indo-Myanmar-Southwestern China mountains: migration routes, intercultural interactions, and linguistic outcomes
  • Exploring the Crossroads of Linguistic Diversity
  • Exploring the crossroads of linguistic diversity: language contact in S.E. Asia
  • Grammatical description and digital documentation of endangered languages of Nagaland, north-east India
Selected Publications
  • Coupe, Alexander R. (2018). 第51回国際漢蔵語学会実行委員会・京都大学白眉センター (51st International Kanji Language Society Executive Committee (eds.) Proceedings of the 51st International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics.: South Asian perspectives on relative-correlative constructions. 51st International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics (pp. Kyoto University Hakubi Center.
  • Coupe, Alexander R.(2018). Grammaticalization processes in the languages of South Asia. In Narrog, Heiko & Bernd Heine(Ed), Grammaticalization from a typological perspective(189-218). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Coupe, Alexander R. (2018). On contact-induced grammaticalization in South Asia. South Asian Linguistic Analysis Roundtable (SALA34).
  • Coupe, Alexander R. (2017, October). Assessing the evidence for contact-induced grammaticalization in South Asia. Paper presented at Workshop on Grammaticalization and Language Contact in Asia and Beyond, School of Humanities, Nanyang Technological University.
  • Coupe, Alexander R.(2017). On the diachronic origins of converbs in Tibeto-Burman and beyond. In Ding, Picus & Jamin Pelkey(Ed), Sociohistorical linguistics in Southeast Asia: New horizons for Tibeto-Burman studies in honor of David Bradley(211-237). Leiden: Brill.

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