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.



Most upcoming conferences have been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, the 2020 meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association is scheduled to take place in late August, 2020. I have been invited to give a plenary talk, topic forthcoming. If all goes well the conference will still take place. Fingers crossed!


My most recent 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 second issue of volume 58 of Oceanic Linguistics.

Several additional papers are either under review or in the works. I will update this website with more information when able.


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.