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Holly Drayton

Doctoral Student in Literature - Holly’s thesis is entitled ‘Western Austronesian voice in three Lower Baram languages of northern Borneo: Description, Usage and Formal Syntactic Account’.

Research project title

Western Austronesian voice in three Lower Baram languages of northern Borneo: Description, Usage and Formal Syntactic Account


Prof Michelle Sheehan + Dr Emma Nguyen

Contact details



Research interests

  • Linguistic Typology
  • Language Documentation and Description
  • Theoretical Syntax
  • Minimalist Syntax
  • Experimental Methods
  • Austronesian languages

A brief outline of my research project

This research has three key aims.  First, I will investigate the voice systems of three Indonesian-type Western Austronesian languages spoken in north Borneo. This will increase our understanding of the cross-linguistic typology of syntactic voice, and address the controversial areas of grammatical relations, syntactic alignment and voice choice.  Second, I will document the endangered and previously undescribed Narum language, by recording a range of multipurpose texts to be archived in an open-access online language depository.  Finally, this project will make a substantial theoretical contribution by developing an analysis of Symmetrical Voice within the Minimalist syntax framework.

Research activities


(To appear) Translating Language Documentation Texts: A survey of macro-level translation methods used in the translation of endangered language texts in a digital language archive. Language Documentation & Conservation.

(Under review) The Belait language:  attitudes, beliefs and vitality.  


Placements and Funding

(2023 – 2027) Northern Bridge DTP PhD Studentship

(April 2022) ELDP Small Grant SG0715. A Documentation of Belait, and Austronesian language of north Borneo.  Value: EUR 4,400.



 (July 2022)  Banco Espiritu Santo Prize for the best Postgraduate Dissertation or Major Project in the Field of Translation 2022.  Value: GBP 100



October 2022, LD&A 2022, Berlin. Translation in Language Documentation Archives.


Research Groups 

Syntax Reading Group



Foundation for Endangered Languages (FEL)

My academic background

  • MA by Research in Linguistics, Universiti Brunei Darussalam
  • MA Translation Studies, Portsmouth University
  • PGDip Language Documentation and Description, SOAS
  • BA French and Linguistics, University of Sussex