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.

Archived Materials:

Materials from my fieldwork are stored at the Kaipuleohone language archive, hosted at the University of Hawaiʻi.



I recently gave a plenary talk at the AFLA meeting via Zoom, as well as a talk at the local DFW Metroplex conference on new evidence for the Austro-Tai hypothesis. The AFLA presentation is available on youtube (search AFLA27).


My most recent paper is on the innovation of word-level nasality in Enggano, an Austronesian language spoken on Enggano Island, one of the Sumatran Barrier Islands. Additional papers are in the works, including a phonological description of Hliboi, a Bidayuh language of Borneo, and a Bayesian Phylogenetic study on Bornean languages which is currently in revisions. 


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

Baram River