Alexander D. Smith

I am an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in 2017. My dissertation was a classification of the languages of Borneo, an island the size of the US state of Texas, and an area of considerable linguistic diversity. I also taught at the University of Hawaii and served as the project coordinator of the Endangered Languages Project and Catalogue of Endangered Languages (


I am a historical linguist, Austronesianist, and have a special interest in diachronic phonology and metrical theory, especially diachronic OT, which utilizes constraint reranking as a trigger for historical phonological change. My research relies heavily on an active fieldwork schedule, and I have spent several months each year in Malaysia and Indonesia conducting linguistic research on Borneo.  I have recently been intrigued by the prospect of working on the Austro-Tai hypothesis.



I am looking forward to the upcoming Linguistics Society of America meeting in New Orleans from January 2nd through 5th. I will be giving a poster on the heavy-syllable reduplication pattern in Ilokano, arguing for a no-coda root, as well as a co-authored paper that I will be presenting with Carly Sommerlot on how the documentation of a previously undescribed language in Borneo had a direct impact on the phonological reconstruction of Proto-Land Dayak. For my poster handout, click here. It promises to be a very interesting conference and I can't wait to see everyone there!


My next paper is on the reconstruction of Proto-Segai-Modang, a Bornean subgroup that is best known as containing languages with a Mainland Southeast Asian phonological typology of large vowel inventories, di- and triphthongs, a sesqui- or monosyllabic word structure, and an overall dramatic departure from typical Austronesian phonology. The paper contains much interesting data. Look for it in the next issue of Oceanic Linguistics.


I am contributing two chapters to an upcoming volume on the Austronesian languages of Southeast Asia. I am covering current theory in Malayo-Polynesian internal subgrouping and the historical linguistics of the languages of Borneo.