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Marianne Mithun /mɪˈθn/ (born 1946) is an American linguist specializing in American Indian languages and language typology. Her work spans a number of linguistic subfields, including morphology, syntax, discourse, prosody, language contact and change, typology, language documentation, and the interrelations among these subfields[1]. She is Professor of Linguistics at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Mithun has worked on a wide variety of languages from a wide variety of language families, but specializes in Native American languages. She began her career with extensive fieldwork on Iroquoian languages, especially Mohawk, Cayuga, and Tuscarora, She has also worked in California on Central Pomo and the Chumashan languages, on Central Alaskan Yup'ik, and on the Austronesian language Kapampangan.

Mithun compiled a comprehensive overview of Native American languages in The Languages of Native North America.[2] A review on the Linguist List describes the work as "an excellent book to have as a reference" and as containing "an incredible amount of information and illustrative data." The work is a bipartite reference organized firstly by grammatical categories (including categories that are particularly widespread in North America, such as polysynthesis), and secondly by family.[3] In 2002 the volume won the Leonard Bloomfield Book Award, awarded annually for the best book in linguistics.[4]

She has taught at many institutions around the world, including Georgetown, La Trobe, Rice, Stanford, SUNY Albany, Amsterdam, Cagliari, Berkeley, Hamburg, UIUC, UNM, Wake Forest, and Yale.[5]

Since January 2019, Mithun has served as the vice president/president-elect of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA). In 2020 she will serve as the 95th president of LSA.[6] She was the founding president of the Society for Linguistic Anthropology in 1983. From 1999 to 2003 she was president of the Association for Linguistic Typology.[7] From 2014 to 2015 she was president of The Societas Linguistica Europaea.[8] She is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.[9]

Selected worksEdit

  • 1984. "The evolution of noun incorporation." Language 60: 847-894.
  • 1991. "Active/Agentive case marking and its motivations." Language 67: 510-546.
  • 1999. The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. [2]
  • 2001. "Who shapes the record: The speaker and the linguist." Linguistic Fieldwork: Essays on the Practice of Empirical Linguistic Research. Paul Newman and Martha Ratliff, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 34-54.


  1. ^ Berez-Kroeker, Andrea L.; Hintz, Diane M.; Jany, Carmen (2016). Language Contact and Change in the Americas : Studies in Honor of Marianne Mithun. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. vii.
  2. ^ a b Mithun, Marianne (1999). The languages of native North America. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7.
  3. ^ "LINGUIST List 12.707: Mithun, Languages of Native North America". Retrieved 2009-06-04.
  4. ^ Leonard Bloomfield Book Award Previous Holders, retrieved September 25, 2017.
  5. ^ "Marianne Mithun: Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  6. ^ The Definition of Respect, The Current, UC Santa Barbara.
  7. ^ " List of officers" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-06-04.
  8. ^ "The Societas Linguistica Europaea". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  9. ^ "Gruppe 5: Filologi og språkvitenskap" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Retrieved 10 January 2011.

External linksEdit