Research Expertise and Interest

linguistics, phonological theory, typology, African languages, the Niger-Congo family, especially the comparative and historical study of the Bantu language family

Research Description

Larry Hyman is Distinguished Professor of the Graduate School in the Department of Linguistics and Director of the France-Berkeley Fund.  Except for a two-year leave with a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science (U.C. Berkeley, 1973-1975), he taught at the University of Southern California from 1971 to 1988. He came to Berkeley's Department of Linguistics in 1988, which he chaired from 1991 to 2002. He has worked extensively on phonological theory and other aspects of language structure particularly as concerns the history and description of the Niger-Congo languages of Africa, especially Bantu.

He has published several books (e.g. Phonology Theory and Analysis, A Theory of Phonological Weight) and numerous theoretical, descriptive, and historical articles in such journals as Language, Linguistic Inquiry, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, Phonology, Studies in African Linguistics and Journal of African Languages and Linguistics. He continues to work extensively on comparative and historical issues concerning the Bantu language family (of about 500 languages) for which purpose he undertook the development of the Comparative Bantu On-Line Dictionary (CBOLD), with funding from the National Science Foundation in the 1990s. He also has had grants from the France-Berkeley Fund and has held appointments in the Laboratoire Dynamique du Langage, Université Lumière Lyon 2 (1995-6), the Université de Toulouse-Mirail (2001), and the Université de Paris 3 (2012). He was awarded the rank of Chevalier in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques in 2022. His most recent work returns to a long-standing concern of his, typology, especially as concerns tone and other prosodic properties of language.

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