Skip to Content






Dr Felicity Cox

B.A.(Hons.) Dip. Ed., PhD
Centre for Language Sciences
Department of Linguistics
Macquarie University






I have been teaching phonetics and phonology in tertiary education since 1983 and have held lecturing positions at Sydney University's Faculty of Health Sciences and Macquarie University. I have been at Macquarie since 1991 and am a co-convenor of the Bachelor of Speech and Hearing Sciences. My postgraduate teaching and supervision involves students from the Master of Applied Linguistics, the Master of Communication Disorders, the Master of Speech and Language Pathology and the PhD program.

In 1997, I was awarded a PhD for my thesis entitled "An Acoustic Examination of Vowel Variation in Australian English". This study provided a comprehensive acoustic account of Australian English vowels.

I am a member of The International Phonetic Association, The Australian Speech Science and Technology Association and the Australian Linguistic Society.

A website dedicated to our work on Australian English can be found at

My current research activities focus around five major projects:

1.   The Australian Ancestors Project. This research involves an acoustic phonetic analysis of historical speech data and continues to provide important insights into the history of Australian English and the nature of sound change in language generally. The extensive historical database generated by this project contains valuable material for the examination of current phonetic theories and through this work we are developing new methods and techniques in quantifying language change. This research has been funded by three internal Macquarie University grants. To conference papers have been presented on the first stage of the Australian Ancestors project at the 10th and the 11th Australasian International Speech Science and Technology Conferences in 2004 and 2006.
2.   The acoustic examination of Lebanese Australian English: Through this project we are able to contribute to the discussions of new dialect development, ethnocultural varieties and the role of metrical structure in segmental articulation. We will additionally be able to provide data for forensic purposes as there are currently no extensive databases available for this population of Australian speakers. This work has been the focus of two conference papers presented in December 2005 ASAS Conference and July 2006 at the Australian Linguistic Society conference.
3.   The articulatory and acoustic examination of /l/ variation in Australian English: This research involves the investigation of velarised /l/, its coarticulatory effects and its realisation in super-heavy syllables. The use of electropalatography, electromagnetic articulography and standard acoustic analysis in the examination of /l/ will further enhance our understanding of the relationship between various hierarchical levels in speech production. The production of /l/ is interesting from a phonetic perspective because Australian English is progressive with respect to /l/ sandi. This project will shed new light on the processes by which syllables are constructed in different dialects.
4.   The Australian Voices Project. This work is based on our long term commitment to the sociophonetic analysis of Australian English and involves the examination of accent variation that occurs within Australia. The aim is to construct a model to accurately depict sociophonetic variation and ultimately a speech atlas for Australasian English. The most recently published comprehensive source of Australia wide data was reported over 40 years ago (Mitchell and Delbridge, 1965) so our research is paramount if we are to provide satisfactory current information on accent variation and differentiation in Australia. The first analysis from this project was funded by a Macquarie University internal grant for Cox and Palethorpe (1998) and many of our subsequent publications have been based on the rural speech database that resulted from this grant.
5.   The relationship between production and perception in sound change. The aim of this project is to examine WHAT major sound changes have occurred in Australian English during the past century, explore WHY certain sound changes have occurred, and investigate HOW the observed sound changes have spread through the lexicon.


Other Outputs

  • Cassidy, S., Cox, F., Mannell, R. and Palethorpe, S. (2004) Proceedings of the 10th Australian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology, December, Sydney. Sydney, Australia. Macquarie University CD_ROM ISBN 0 958 1946 10
  • Cox, F.M. (1998) "Australian vowels: Australian identity", Ozwords, 4, 6.
  • Cox, F. M. (1996) An Acoustic Analysis of Vowel Variation in Australian English. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Macquarie University, Sydney.
  • Bottell (Cox), F.M. (1982) A Spectrographic Investigation of /r/ and /w/ in Children's Speech. Unpublished B.A. Honours Thesis, Macquarie University, Sydney.

Conference presentations

  • Lonergan, J. & Cox, F. (2008) Is there any evidence of rhoticity in historical Australian English? Paper presented at the Australian Linguistic Society Conference, Sydney, July 2-4.
  • Cox, F & Palethorpe, S. (2008) Nasalisation of /æ/ and sound change in Australian English, Paper presented at Laboratory Phonology 11, Wellington, 30th June-2nd July 2008.
  • Cox, F. M. (2006) Shape shift: Australian English sound change, Keynote address at the Australian Linguistic Society Conference and the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia, Brisbane 8 July, 2006.
  • Cox, F.& Palethorpe, S. (2006) Open vowels in Australian English: An evolutionary perspective. Paper presented at the 11th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology, Auckland, December 6-8.
  • Cox, F. M. &Palethorpe, S. (2006) Some phonetic characteristics of Lebanese Australian English. Paper presented at the Australian Linguistic Society Conference, Brisbane, July 7-9.
  • Cox, F & Palethorpe, S. (2005) A preliminary acoustic phonetic examination of Lebanese Australian English. Paper presented at the Australian Language and Speech Conference, Sydney, December 13-15
  • Cox, F. M. (2005) Australian English pronunciation into the 21st Century. Keynote address at the AMEP Conference, October, Sydney
  • Cox, F., Palethorpe, S. & Tsukada, K (2004) One hundred years of accent change in Australian English. Paper presented at the 10th Australian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology, Sydney December 6-10
  • Cox, F & Palethorpe, S. (2004) A Question of Broadness. Paper presented at the Australian Linguistic Society Conference, July 13-15
  • Palethorpe, S. & Cox, F. (2003) Vowel modification in pre-lateral environments. Poster presented at the International Seminars on Speech Production, December, Sydney. ISBN 1 86408 871 0
  • Cox, F., Palethorpe, S., Carey, M. & Squires, S. (2003) The border effect: Vowel differences across the NSW / Victorian border. Paper presented at the Australian Linguistic Society Annual Conference
  • Cox, F. & Palethorpe, S. (1997) “Vowel change” Paper presented at the Australian Linguistic Society Conference, Armidale
  • Cox, F. (1997) “Age differences as evidence of vowel change in Australian English”, Paper presented at the Australian Linguistic Society Conference, Australian English Workshop, Armidale.

Recent Invitations

  • Keynote address at the Australian Linguistic Society (ALS)/Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA) Conferences, Brisbane July 2006, “Shape Shift: Australian English Sound Change”
  • Keynote addresses at the Adult Migrant Education Program (AMEP) Conference, Sydney, October 2005, “Australian English Pronunciation into the 21st Century”
  • Plenary session at the Speech and Drama Association Annual Conference, Sydney, July 2005, “Current Issues in Australian English”
  • Plenary at the Australian Centre for Languages (ACL) Consortium Professional Development Day, Sydney, April 2006, “Current Issues in the Description of the Australian English Accent”.

Research in Progress


Research Grants Awarded

  • 2010 ARC Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities Grant, $650,000 The Big Australian Speech Corpus:An Audio-Visual Speech Corpus of Australian English, Burnham, Cox, Butcher, Fletcher, Wagner, Epps, Ingram, Archiuli, Togneri, Rose, Kemp, Cutler, Dale, Kuratate, Powers, Cassidy, Grayden, Loakes, Bennamoun, Lewis, Goecke, Best, Bird, Ambikairajah, Hajek, Ishihara, Kinoshita, Tran, Chetty, Onslow

  • 2010 MQSIS Research Infrastructure Block Grant, $75,000 "A dual pulse magnetic stimulator for the study of brain excitation and inhibition in human movement studies" Sowman, Finkbeiner, Crain, Harrison, Cox, Brock, Savage, Johnson, Friedman, Mannell.

  • 2009 Maquarie University Research Development Grant $34289 The Sydney Accent: Regional and Social Variation, Cox & Palethorpe

  • 2009 Macquarie Strategic Infrastructure Scheme $40,039 MEG polygraphic equipment: Coltheart, Crain, Thompson, Stevenson, Savage, McMahon, Mannell, Cox, Williams, Rich, Finkbeiner, Polermo, Johnson.

  • 2008 Linguistics Department Graduate Research Assistant Scheme $4,914 Cox

  • 2008 Macquarie Strategic Infrastructure Scheme – Research Infrastructure Block Grants. Kids' Science Club: A Children's Research Register at Macquarie University : $32,858, McArthur, Kohnen, Castles, Palermo, Warburton, Thornton, Crain, Jensen, Brock, Johnson, Bowes, Cupples, Rapee, Cox, Hudson, Lyneham, Porter, Robbins

  • 2007 Macquarie Research Infrastructure Block Grants. Ultrasound: Nickels, Finkbeiner, Coltheart, Palethorpe, Cox & Harrison, $62,000 plus $10,000 from Division.

  • 2007 Department of Linguistics Researcher Grant: Frequency effects and short front vowel raising in Australian English, $10,000

  • 2006 Macquarie University Safety Net Grant: An Acoustic Phonetic Study of Historical Sound Change in Australian English, F. Cox and S. Palethorpe, $20,000

  • 2005 Macquarie University Safety Net Grant: Australian English Pronunciation in the 19th Century, F. Cox and S. Palethorpe, $19,000

  • 2004 Macquarie University New Staff Member Grant: A Reconstruction of Australian English Vowel Pronunciation at Federation $18,000

  • 2002 Macquarie University Flagship Grant: Phonetic and Phonological Teaching and Learning Resources for Phonetics, Speech Pathology, Applied Linguistics and Speech Technology, Mannell, Cox, Barker, Armstrong, Palethorpe, Tent, Knox, Carey. $40,000

  • 1998 ARC Seeding Grant Macquarie University: Rural Australian English. F. Cox and S. Palethorpe. $20,000

  • 1998 Small ARC Grant: A Comparison between Australian and New Zealand English. F Cox, J Harrington, C Watson. $10,000

Teaching Pages: