The project aimed to collect data to answer questions that arose from Brown's doctoral thesis on the language of Nias Selatan (2001), the southernmost variety of the language spoken on the island of Nias, off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, as well as to collect data from other varieties of Nias in order to complete a more comprehensive grammar of the language.
Nias has unusual case marking which makes use of alternations in initial segments of noun phrases, similar to consonant mutation in nouns familiar from Celtic languages. Nias is also typologically unusual in having a morphologically marked absolutive case, while the ergative case is morphologically unmarked. In terms of argument indexing on verbs, the southern variety differs from the other varieties in two ways. The first is that it makes a morphological distinction between realis and irrealis argument prefixes (as well as having distinct verb forms); the second is that whereas first and second person S and P arguments take the form of independent pronouns in the south, in other varieties first and second person S and P arguments take the form of suffixes.