Michael Walsh's research has focused on the Top End of the Northern Territory over the last 30 years. This research includes descriptive and typological studies of Aboriginal languages as well as investigations into language use among indigenous Australians. An interest in lexical semantics has given rise to such studies as one on body part metaphors and another on nominal classification. In these and other studies I am interested in testing general assumptions about how languages are supposed to work against data collected in the field.
Outside of strictly linguistic matters he has carried out research or advised on land claims, assessment of Aboriginal witnesses in legal settings and Native Title matters. One spin-off of these interests is a focus on cross-cultural communication problems between indigenous and other Australians