Thomas Givon

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Thomas Givon
Born June 22, 1936
Afula, British Mandate of Palestine (now Israel)
Occupation Linguist

Thomas Givon (also known as Talmy Givón[1][2][3]) (born June 22, 1936) is a linguist and writer. He is one of the founders of functionalism in linguistics.[4] He is one of the founders of the linguistics department at the University of Oregon based on his functional-adaptive approach to language and communication.


His work covers many language areas (Semitic, African, Amerindian, Austronesian, Papuan, Sino-Tibetan, Indo-European), as well as many areas of theoretical linguistics: (syntax, semantics, pragmatics, second language acquisition, pidgins & creoles, discourse & text linguistics, methodology & philosophy of science, philosophy of language, typology & language universals, grammaticalization & historical syntax, cognitive science, language evolution).


Givón earned his bachelor of science cum laude in agriculture from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1959.[3] Attending UCLA, he received a Master of Science degree in horticulture in 1962, a C.Phil in Plant Biochemistry, a master of arts in linguistics in 1966, and a PhD in linguistics in 1969, as well as an TESL certificate in 1965.


Research Associate in Lexicography (Systems Development Corporation, 1966–1967); Research Associate in Bantu Linguistics (University of Zambia 1967–1968); Assistant Professor of Linguistics and African Languages (UCLA 1969–1974); Associate Professor of Linguistics (UCLA 1974–1979); Professor of Linguistics (UCLA 1969–1981); Professor of Linguistics (University of Oregon 1981–2002); Distinguished Professor (emeritus) of Linguistics and Cognitive Science (University of Oregon; 2002– ). Givón's last general linguistic project was The Genesis of Complex Syntax: Diachrony, Ontogeny, Cognition, Evolution.

Givón is said to have coined the aphorism that "today's morphology is yesterday's syntax",[2][3] in a development of Antoine Meillet's work on grammaticalisation.[5]

He was the editor of the book series Typological Studies in Language published by John Benjamins Publishing Company.[6][7]

Tom has written a series of novels and historical translations through his publishing house, White Cloud Publishing, and is an avid google Blogger.


Givón's published books include:

  • The Travels of Benjamins Adam, (a novel; 1966)
  • Studies in Chi-Bemba and Bantu Grammar, (1973)
  • On Understanding Grammar, (1979) review in American Scientist vol 68, Sep–Oct 1980 [1]
  • Ute Dictionary, (1979)
  • Ute Reference Grammar, (1980)
  • Topic Continuity in Discourse, (1983; editor)
  • Syntax: A Functional-Typological Introduction, (vol. I, 1984; vol. II 1990; revised edition published in 2001 as Syntax: An Introduction)
  • Ute Traditional Narratives, (1985)
  • Mind, Code, and Context: Essays in Pragmatics, (1989)
  • English Grammar, (2 vols; 1993)
  • Functionalism and Grammar, (1995) review in doi:10.1515/thli.1996.22.1-2.125
  • Running Through the Tall Grass, (a fiction novel; 1997) review in Publishers Weekly
  • Syntax: An Introduction, (2 vols, 2001) review in JSTOR 4176888
  • Bio-Linguistics, (2002) reviewed in doi:10.1353/lan.2005.0030 and [2]
  • Context as Other Minds, (2005) review in [3] and doi:10.1353/lan.0.0046
  • The Genesis of Syntactic Complexity, (2009) review in doi:10.1353/lan.0.0157
  • Ute Reference Grammar, (2011)
  • "Seadock: The Boz Trilogy #1", (a fiction novel; 2011) review in The Durango Herald
  • "Sasquatch: The Boz Trilogy #2", (a fiction novel; 2011)
  • "Blood: The Boz Trilogy #3", (a fiction novel; 2012)
  • "Tao Teh Ching", (a historical translation; 2012)


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Michael C. Corballis (2011). The Recursive Mind: The Origins of Human Thought, Language, and Civilization. Princeton University Press. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-691-14547-1. 
  3. ^ a b c E. K. Brown; R. E. Asher; J. M. Y. Simpson (2006). Encyclopedia of language & linguistics. Elsevier. pp. 86–87. ISBN 978-0-08-044299-0. 
  4. ^ Christopher Butler (2003). Structure and Function: Approaches to the simplex clause. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-58811-357-3. 
  5. ^ Van Sterkenburg, Piet (2008). Unity and diversity of languages. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 177. ISBN 90-272-3248-2. 
  6. ^ JSTOR 415547
  7. ^

External links