Receiving the gavel as President of the LSA, January 2017

Larry M. Hyman

Distinguished Professor of the Graduate School
Director, France-Berkeley Fund
University of California, Berkeley
Curriculum vitae [PDF]
(lastname) @

Ph.D., Linguistics, University of California, Los Angeles, 1972. 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, typology, 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 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.

His current interests center around phonological theory, tone systems, and the comparative and historical study of the Bantu language family (of about 500 languages) for which he founded the Comparative Bantu On-Line Dictionary (CBOLD), originally funded by the National Science Foundation and in collaboration with the Laboratoire Dynamique du Langage (CNRS / Université Lyon 2). He is also currently Director of the France-Berkeley Fund and has held several visiting positions in Lyon, Paris and Toulouse.

Larry Hyman receiving award of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques from Consul General of France Frédéric Jung in San Francisco, May 25, 2022:

Bafang, 1971 Bamileke tonologist, Bafang, 1971


For the last several decades I have been concerned with the phonology of tone: What can tone do? What can't tone do? How is it the same vs. different from other kinds of phonology? How does it interact with morphology and syntax? How does it fit into an adequate word-prosodic typology? How should it be formalized? In a number of papers I have shown that while tone can be studied in much the same way as other phonological phenomena, there are some things that only tone can do. See especially my Handbook chapter "Is tone different?" (2011).

Niger-Congo linguistics

From the very beginning of my student days in linguistics, I have been concerned with descriptive, historical, typological and theoretical issues arising from the study of African languages, particularly within the Benue-Congo subbranch of Niger-Congo, and within it, especially Bantu and Bantoid. This has led me to look at issues at all levels of grammar (phonology, morphology, syntax) as well as their interfaces. Much of my current work is concerned with determining the distribution of linguistic properties within the different areal zones and how we can exploit both the specific details and the recurrent patterns of languages from across the zone to arrive at an understanding of Proto-Niger-Congo and its subsequent history.

Selected Publications

For a full list of publications, see my CV. Drafts of most of my recent papers in phonology are posted in the PhonLab Annual Reports.

Larry M. Hyman (2018) "What tone teaches us about language." LSA Presidential Address, January 2018 (slides). [PDF]
Jenneke van der Wal and Larry M. Hyman (eds) (2017) The conjoint/disjoint alternation in Bantu. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Larry M. Hyman (2016) "Morphological tonal assignments in conflict: Who wins?" In Enrique Palancar and Jean Léo Léonard (eds), Tone and inflection: New facts and new perspectives, 15-39. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.
Larry M. Hyman (2015) "Does Gokana really have syllables? A postscript to Hyman (2011)." Phonology 32.303-306. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2015) Outward-looking y/Ø alternations in Luganda. Paper presented at the 46th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL 46), University of Oregon, March 26-28, 2015. Handout. [PDF]
Steven Bird and Larry M. Hyman, eds. (2014) How to study a tone language. Special number of Language Documentation and Conservation vol. 8. [Link]
Larry M. Hyman (2014) "How to study a tone language." Language Documentation & Conservation 8.525-562. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2014) "How autosegmental is phonology?" The Linguistic Review 31.363-400. [PDF]
Otelemate Harry and Larry M. Hyman (2014) "Phrasal construction tonology: The case of Kalabari." Studies in Language 38:649-689. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2013) "Enlarging the scope of phonologization." In Alan C.L. Yu (ed.), Origins of sound change: Approaches to phonologization, 3-28. Oxford University Press [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2013) "Penultimate lengthening in Bantu." In Balthasar Bickel, Lenore A. Grenoble, David A. Peterson and Alan Timberlake (eds), Language typology and historical contingency: In honor of Johanna Nichols, 309-330. Benjamins. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2012) "Post-verbal subject in the Nzadi relative clause." Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 33.97-117. [PDF]
Thera M. Crane, Larry M. Hyman, and Simon Nsielanga Tukumu (2011) A Grammar of Nzadi [B865]: A Language of Democratic Republic of the Congo. University of California Publications in Linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press. [Link]
Larry M. Hyman (2011) "Tone: Is it different?" In John Goldsmith, Jason Riggle and Alan Yu (eds), "The Handbook of Phonological Theory," 2nd edition, 197-239. Blackwell. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman and Kemmonye C. Monaka (2011) "Tonal and non-tonal intonation in Shekgalagari." In Sonia Frota, Gorka Elordieta and Pilar Prieto (eds), Prosodic categories: production, perception and comprehension, 267-290. Springer Verlag. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2011) "The Macro-Sudan Belt and Niger-Congo Reconstruction." Language Dynamics and Change 1.1-47. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2011) "Does Gokana really have no syllables? Or: What’s so great about being universal?" Phonology 28.55-85. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2010) "Focus marking in Aghem: Syntax or semantics?" In Ines Fiedler and Anne Schwartz, The expression of information structure: A documentation of its diversity across Africa, 95-116. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman and Francis X. Katamba (2010) "Tone, syntax, and prosodic domains in Luganda." In Laura J. Downing et al (eds), ZAS Papers in Linguistics, 53.69-98. Berlin. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman, Sharon Inkelas, and Galen Sibanda (2009) "Morphosyntactic correspondence in Bantu reduplication." In Kristin Hanson and Sharon Inkelas (eds.), The nature of the word: Essays in Honor of Paul Kiparsky, 273-309. MIT Press. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2009) "How (not) to do phonological typology: the case of pitch-accent." Language Sciences 31.213-238. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2009) "The natural history of verb-stem reduplication in Bantu." Morphology 19.177-206. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2008) "Directional asymmetries in the morphology and phonology of words, with special reference to Bantu." Linguistics 46(2), 309-349. [PDF]
John P. Daly and Larry M. Hyman (2007) "On the representation of tone in Peñoles Mixtec." International Journal of American Linguistics 73.165-208 [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2006) "Word-prosodic typology." Phonology 23.225-257. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2004) "How to become a Kwa verb." Journal of West African Languages 30.69-88. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman and Kenneth VanBik (2004) "Directional rule application and output problems in Hakha Lai tone." In Phonetics and Phonology, Special Issue, Language and Linguistics 5.821-861. Academia Sinica, Taipei. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2003) "Suffix ordering in Bantu: a morphocentric approach." Yearbook of Morphology 2002, 245-281. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2003) "Sound change, misanalysis, and analogy in the Bantu causative." Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 24.55-90. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2003) "'Abstract' vowel harmony in Kàlòŋ: A system-driven account." In Patrick Sauzet and Anne Zribi-Hertz (eds.), Typologie des langues d’Afrique et universaux de la grammaire, 85-112. Paris: l’Harmattan. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (2001) "On the limits of phonetic determinism in phonology: *NC revisited." In Beth Hume and Keith Johnson (eds.), The Role of Speech Perception Phenomena in Phonology. Academic Press, 141-185. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (1998) "Positional prominence and the 'prosodic trough' in Yaka." Phonology 15.41-75. [PDF]
Larry M. Hyman (1975) "Nasal States and Nasal Processes." In C.A. Ferguson, L.M. Hyman, and J.J. Ohala (eds.), Nasalfest: Papers from a Symposium on Nasals and Nasalization. Special Publication, Stanford University Universals Project, 249-264. [PDF]

Unpublished Papers

Kuki-Thaadow Segmental Phonology [PDF]
Kuki-Thaadow Tone [PDF]
Kuki-Thaadow Nouns and Noun Phrase [PDF]
Kuki-Thaadow Verb Structure [PDF]
Is There a Right-to-Left Bias in Vowel Harmony? [PDF]
Leggbo Noun Structure [PDF]
Leggbo Verb Structure [PDF]
Kom Tonology [PDF]

Other Activities

Professor Hyman's undergraduate linguistic field methods course