Alan Dench is Dean of the Graduate Research School and Winthrop Professor in Linguistics at the University of Western Australia. He has also served as Executive Dean of Arts at UWA and as the Chair of the University’s Animal Ethics Committee, and has sat on the Australian Research Council’s College of Experts, with particular responsibilities in assessing research in humanities, and social, behavioural and economic sciences.
Dench’s principal area of expertise is the primary documentation and description of Australian Aboriginal languages.
He has written grammatical descriptions of three languages of the Pilbara region of Western Australia – Panyjima, Martuthunira and Yingkarta – and is working on a detailed description of Nyamal. His current research program, with colleagues in Australia, France, Belgium and the UK, is focussed on the investigation of the semantics of tense, aspect, modality and evidentiality in Australian languages. Dench continues to teach undergraduate linguistics majors and has supervised a number of higher degree research students, most working on descriptions of endangered indigenous languages of Australia, Indonesia or the wider Indo-Pacific region.
Dench has a Bachelors degree in Anthropology from UWA, and Masters and PhD degrees in Linguistics from The Australian National University. He us currently President of the Australian Linguistics Society, a member of the Executive Committee of the International Society for Historical Linguistics, a member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.