Series 463 - Darrell Tryon Research Papers on Pacific linguistics

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Darrell Tryon Research Papers on Pacific linguistics


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18 cartons and a box of newspapers

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Name of creator

(1942 – 2013)

Biographical history

Professor Tryon, Pacific scholar in linguistics at the Australian National University, was a leading scholar of Pacific and Austronesian languages, particularly those from Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and the Loyalty Islands. Born in New Zealand, he completed his Bachelor's degree at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch. Studying French and Classics, he became a fluent French speaker. He moved to Australia during the mid 1960s, where he taught at Australian National University.

From 1969 to 1971, Professor Tryon collected new and old languages in Vanuatu and developed extensive wordlists. He developed the first hypotheses about relationships between the French speaking nations and presented his findings at the First International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics in Honolulu in 1974. From wordlists obtained from 179 communities he found that there were more than one hundred distinct languages in Vanuatu and that the modern, indigenous languages of Vanuatu were part of Austronesian language family.

Professor Tryon began to study the languages of the Solomon Islands beginning in 1978. He also authored works on the pidgin and creole languages of the Pacific Islands, including Pijin of the Solomon Islands and Bislama of Vanuatu. His masterwork was the 'Comparative Austronesian Dictionary', an edited five-volume work published by Mouton de Gruyter in 1995. It contained annotated wordlists for 1310 meanings organized by semantic domains in 80 Austronesian languages, 40 of them Oceanic.

Prior to his retirement in 2007 Professor Tryon was heavily involved in university administration and for part of this time was the Deputy Director of the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University. His involvement in the wider work of the school strengthened his interests in the governance and sociology of the countries of the South Pacific, and many of his more recent publications have been in this area. He was variously a Constitutional Adviser to Vanuatu Government and a member of the Council of the University of New Caledonia. In 2004 he was awarded the Legion of Honour by the French Government, in recognition of his contributions to French language and culture, especially in the Pacific, and for his work in fostering bilateral relations between Australia and France.

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Scope and content

Collection includes language and research materials related to the Pacific, especially Vanuatu (previously New Hebrides), and the pidgin and creole languages of the Pacific region.


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Researchers must sign an access agreement.

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The tape collection was boxed in October 2017 and numbering started with Box 1. When processing is finished, the boxes with tapes should be added to the end of the archive and then re-numbered. The tapes are being digitised by PARADESIC.

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Created by Christine Bryan on 20 May 2014




Professor Malcolm Ross:

Andrew Pawley, In Memoriam, Darrell Tryon, 1942-2013 in ‘Oceanic Linguistics’, Vol. 52 Issue 2, Dec 2013, p524 and

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