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Geoffrey Hull

Updated on May 18, 2012

Geoffrey Hull

Geoffrey Stephen Hull (6 September 1955) is an Australian linguist, ethnologist and historian who has made contributions to the study of Romance, Celtic, Slavonic, Semitic, Austronesian and Papuan languages, and in particular to the relationship between language and culture.


Of English and Scots ancestry on his father's side, his maternal family belonged to the Latin community of Egypt (of mixed Maltese, Venetian, Triestine and French descent) which left that country during the post-war period of nationalization (1946-1957). [1] He grew up familiar with the large range of languages spoken in his extended family (French, Maltese, Italian and various dialects of Italy, Occitan, Slovene, Greek and Arabic) and studied Arts at the University of Sydney (1974-1982), completing a doctorate in historical linguistics after dialectological research in Italy and Switzerland. His Ph.D thesis (The Linguistic Unity of Northern Italy and Rhaetia) was a reconstruction of the Padanian language underlying the modern Gallo-Italian, Venetian and Ladin dialects. Before graduation he also undertook studies in philosophy and theology at the Aquinas Academy, Sydney.

In his academic career Hull taught in the areas of linguistics and modern and classical European languages at Sydney University, Melbourne University, the University of Wollongong and other Australian tertiary institutions, and is a professional lexicographer and a translator working in over a dozen languages. In the 1990s he assisted the East Timorese leadership in exile by standardizing Tetum and creating a range of linguistic and literary resources for this and other languages of East Timor, then under Indonesian occupation. [2] He was also a member of a human rights delegation organized by the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council which visited the country in 1997 amid escalating violence and reported to the United Nations, the Indonesian Human Rights Commission, the Australian government and the Vatican. In September 1999 he testified before the Australian Senate Inquiry on East Timor on abuses he had witnessed in that country during past visits. [3] From 2001 to 2007 he was research and publications director of the Instituto Nacional de Linguística, the national language authority of the independent state of Timor-Leste. He was the designer, principal author and editor of the national Tetum dictionary (Disionáriu Nasionál ba Tetun Ofisiál) and was founder and co-editor of the academic journal Estudos de Línguas e Culturas de Timor-Leste. [4]

Outside the field of linguistics Geoffrey Hull is known for writings on religious questions, most notably the historical causes and socio-cultural impact of church reforms of the 1960s on the Latin Catholic and Eastern Catholic traditions. He is currently an adjunct professor at Macquarie University, Sydney.

Select Publications

"La lingua 'padanese": Corollario dell'unità dei dialetti reto-cisalpini". Etnie: Scienze politica e cultura dei popoli minoritari, 13 (1987), pp. 50-53; 14 (1988), pp. 66-70. (English version here)

"Franco-Maltese". In James Jupp, ed., The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, its People and their Origins. Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1988, pp. 705-6.

Polyglot Italy: Languages, Dialects, Peoples. Melbourne: CIS Educational, 1989.

"Parallels and Convergences in Celtic and Romance Philology". Australian Celtic Journal, 1 (1989), pp. 33-43; II (1990), pp. 21-30.

"Vocabulary Renewal Trends in the Modern Celtic Languages." Origins and Revivals: Proceedings of the First Australian Conference of Celtic Studies, pp. 69-90.

"Idealist Nationalism and Linguistic Dogma in Italy". In The Shared Horizon. Dublin: The Academic Press, 1990, pp. 149-183.

Timor Oriental: n'est-ce qu'il qu'une question politique? Ãglises d'Asia: Agence d'Information des Missions Etrangères de Paris, Dossiers et documents No. 9/92, 1992.

The Malta Language Question: A Case Study in Cultural Imperialism. Malta: Said International, 1993.

Building the Kingdom: Mary MacKillop and Social Justice. Melbourne: Collins Dove, 1994.

Timor-Leste: Identidade, Língua e Política Educacional. Lisbon: Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros/Instituto Camões, 2001.

(with Lance Eccles). Gramática da Língua Tétum. Lisbon: Lidel, 2005.

(with Halyna Koscharsky) "Contours and consequences of the lexical divide in Ukrainian". Australian Slavonic and East European Studies, Vol 20, Nos 1-2 (2006), 139-172.

The Banished Heart: Origins of Heteropraxis in the Catholic Church. London: T&T Clark, 2010.


(1) "Professor J. Aquilina Interviews Dr Geoffrey Hull (University of Melbourne)." Lil Hutna. Valletta: Dar l-Emigrant, Jnaury-June, 1985, pp. 18-21.

(2) Esperança, João Paulo. O que é a Lusofonia/Saida maka Luzofonia. Baucau: Instituto Camões - Centro de Língua Portuguesa de Díli, 2005, pp. 36-38.

(3) "Testimony of Dr Geoffrey Hull. 10 Sept. 1999." Australian Senate Inquiry on East Timor. Canberra: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 1999, Hansard 508-512.

(4) Aone van Engelenhoven, "Ita-nia Nasaun Oin-ida, Ita-nia Dalen Sira Oin-Seluk - Our Nation is One, Our Languages are Different: Language Policy in East Timor." In Paulo Castro Seixas e Aone van Engelenhoven, eds. Diversidsade Cultural na Construção da Nação e do Estado em Timor-Leste. Porto: Edições Universidade Fernando Pessoa, 2006, pp. 106-127.


Text and photo reproduced here by courtesy of Prof. Hull. Another version of the article has been released at the English Wikipedia, licensed under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license. However, the two articles are independent by the point of view of copyright. In particular this article is prof. Hull's original text, whereas Wikipedia article could have been edited meanwhile. Analogously, photo is available on Wikimedia Commons too.

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    • profile image

      antoniow 5 years ago

      Fantastic lens, well done! Squidlike

    • madoc profile image

      madoc 5 years ago

      @RinchenChodron: My sentiments exactly

    • alicia65 profile image

      alicia65 5 years ago

      a remarkable lens featuring one of the greatest man who contributed understanding in particular to language and culture.! thumbs up.

    • Inkhand profile image

      Inkhand 6 years ago

      A great lens about G. S Hull and his contributions to our understanding of the relationship between language and culture.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love learning languages and studying etymology. This is a great highlight on Geoffrey Hull and his work!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 6 years ago

      I love linguistics - Thanks for introducing me to Geoffrey Hull.

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      how interesting, well done

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 6 years ago from Idaho

      Interesting information!