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 as an assistant professor in June 2009 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in March 2014. He gained 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. Following his doctoral research, he was awarded an Australian Research Council Fellowship to investigate the typology of clause linkage in Tibeto-Burman languages in 2004-2007. Between completing this fellowship and taking up his present position, he taught linguistics at La Trobe University. He is the author of two books, various journal articles and book chapters, and has edited two special issues of journal volumes. He has recently been awarded a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced researchers and in 2016 he will be affiliated to the University of Cologne, where he will collaborate in research on language contact and convergence.

Alec Coupe is co-editor of the internationally peer-reviewed journal ‘Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area’ (now published by John Benjamins) , has served as a reviewer for the journals ‘Lingua’, ‘Diachronica’, 'Studies in Language', 'Journal of the International Phonetic Association', 'Language & Linguistics', 'Himalayan Linguistics' and ‘Journal of the South East Asian Linguistics Society’, and 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 aspects of the grammar of Ao; more recently he has turned his attention to other Tibeto-Burman languages of north-east India, including Chang, Khiamniungan, Lotha, Sangtam and Yimchungru, and he has investigated evidence of their contact and convergence with Indic languages. This fieldwork-based research is driven by a desire to record and analyse the grammars of these poorly understood Tibeto-Burman languages, to determine their genetic relationships, and to document them for posterity. The output of this work feeds another research goal: to seek functional and diachronic explanations for the structural diversity and commonalities found in Tibeto-Burman languages and in human language more generally, 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 and language contact.
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
  • Exploring the Crossroads of Linguistic Diversity
  • Exploring the crossroads of linguistic diversity: language contact in S.E. Asia
  • Grammar Matrix Reloaded: Syntax and Semantics of Affectedness
  • Grammatical description and digital documentation of endangered languages of Nagaland, north-east India
Selected Publications
  • 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.
  • Coupe, Alexander Robertson.(2017). Mongsen Ao. In Thurgood, Graham & Randy J. LaPolla(Ed), The Sino-Tibetan languages, 2nd edn.(277-301). Oxon & New York: Routledge.
  • Alexander Robertson Coupe. (2011, December). Agentive/ergative marking in Tibeto-Burman and Australian languages. Paper presented at Australian Linguistics Society Annual Conference,, The Australian National University, Canberra.
  • Coupe, Alexander R.(2007). Converging patterns of clause linkage in Nagaland. In Miestamo, Matti and Bernhard Walchli(Ed), New challenges in typology: broadening the horizons and redefining the foundations. Trends in Linguistics, Studies and Monographs 189(339-361). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Alexander Robertson Coupe.(2006). Converbs. In Brown, Keith(Ed), Encyclopedia of languages and linguistics, 2nd Edition(145–152 of Vol. 3). Oxford: Elsevier.

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