Rachel Hendery is a linguist who works on language contact and change, particularly in the Pacific, and how new digital tools and techniques allow us to research these in new ways. Her PhD at the Australian National University was a historical typological project, looking at change in relative clauses constructions cross-linguistically. This was followed by an ARC-funded project on the small island of Palmerston, in the Cook Islands, a small isolated community that speaks an unusual English dialect or creole. She spent three years trying to understand the history of this variety and the island that has created it, analysing the social networks of the present and past, and the variation in the language, both diachronically and synchronically.
In the process of carrying out the research described above, Rachel developed an interest in digital methods for mapping, modelling, visualising and disseminating linguistic and cultural research. This led her to the exciting new community of digital humanities and in 2014 she was appointed as Australia’s first Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities at Western Sydney University.