Andrew M. Byrd

amby222's picture
  • Associate Professor of Linguistics
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies
  • Linguistics
1667 Patterson Office Tower
Research Interests:

Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles.
B.A., University of Georgia, Athens.

Office Hours (Fall 2019): MW 11 - 12

My main research interests lie in the historical study of Indo-European languages and the use of linguistic typology and theory to study problems that are difficult (and sometimes impossible!) to solve using the traditional Comparative Method.  These include:

  • The application of phonological theory in the analysis of ancient Indo-European languages (such as Latin, Greek, Sanskrit and Old English) and the language from which they derive, Proto-Indo-European (PIE). To hear what PIE actually sounded like (approximately), you can listen to me recite two stories in PIE at Archaeology Magazine;
  • The reconstruction of phonological constraints within an Optimality Theoretic framework;
  • General phonological matters within Indo-European, especially laryngeal theory;
  • The interface between phonology and morphology.
Current Projects
  • DERBi PIE. Together with former MA student Phillip Barnett (now at UCLA) and current MA student Ryan McDonald, I am working on the creation of a large-scale database of the PIE language, called DERBi PIE (Database of Etymological Roots Beginning in PIE).
  • Experimental Indo-European Linguistics. I am keenly interested in designing experiments to test theories on PIE and the prehistory of IE languages. I am currently investigating the rarity of PIE */b/ with Phillip Barnett through a series of perception and production experiments.
  • The Life Cycle of A Sound Law: Szemerenyi's Law as Study in the Diachrony of Phonological and Morphological Acquisition. I am co-writing a book on the history of Szemerenyi's Law with Ryan Sandell (LMU Munchen) to be published by John Benjamins (likely 2020). In it we argue that a great majority of lengthened grades in PIE are attributable to processes of compensatory lengthening conditioned by the loss of fricatives in post-consonantal coda position. We show the naturalness of the sound laws through phonological analysis, phonetic and morphological experimentation, and computational modelling.
  • The Anatolian Trail: an Indo-European Adventure. I am leading a large team of experts to design a video game that will engage a broad audience on the scholarship of Proto-Indo-European and ancient Indo-European (IE) languages and cultures. In the game, players will be able to battle ancient monsters from IE folklore, gain blessings from the gods of the IE pantheon, and even converse with the locals in their native tongue. I am designing the game together with award-winning teacher and language-pedagogy expert Brenna Reinhart Byrd (UK) and George Landon, head of the EKU Gaming Institute.
Public Engagement

I am also passionate about educating the public about Proto-Indo-European and historical linguistics.

In my first major project, I headed a team of scholars to create two languages based on Proto-Indo-European for Far Cry Primal, a first person shooter set in the Stone Age.

More recently, I also created eight reconstructed languages for the recent National Geographic Show Origins: The Journey of Humankind.

Selected Publications: 


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