List of Famous Linguists People

List of Famous Linguists

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List of famous linguists, with photos, bios, and other information when available. Who are the top linguists in the world? This includes the most prominent linguists, living and dead, both in America and abroad. This list of notable linguists is ordered by their level of prominence, and can be sorted for various bits of information, such as where these historic linguists were born and what their nationality is. The people on this list are from different countries, but what they all have in common is that they're all renowned linguists.

Use every person on this list for yours, from Noam Chomsky to Larry Wall.

From reputable, prominent, and well known linguists to the lesser known linguists of today, these are some of the best professionals in the linguist field. If you want to answer the questions, "Who are the most famous linguists ever?" and "What are the names of famous linguists?" then you're in the right place. (172 items)

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  1. 1
    Noam Chomsky
    Photo: Freebase/Fair use

    Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, political commentator, social justice activist, and anarcho-syndicalist advocate. Sometimes described as the "father of modern linguistics", Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy. He has spent most of ...more

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    • Age: age 87
    • Birthplace: East Oak Lane, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
    • Profession: Linguist, Cognitive scientist, Historian, Logician, Screenwriter, + more
  2. 2
    Pier Paolo Pasolini
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Pier Paolo Pasolini was an Italian film director, poet, writer and intellectual. Pasolini distinguished himself as a poet, journalist, philosopher, novelist, playwright, filmmaker, newspaper and magazine columnist, actor, painter and political figure. He demonstrated a unique and extraordinary cultural ...more

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    • Age: Died at 53 (1922-1975)
    • Birthplace: Europe, Eurasia, Italy, Southern Europe, Province of Bologna, + more
    • Profession: Linguist, Painter, Poet, Politician, Journalist, + more
  3. 3

    John Anthony Burgess Wilson, FRSL – who published under the pen name Anthony Burgess – was an English writer and composer. From relatively modest beginnings in a Catholic family in Manchester, he eventually became one of the best known English literary figures of the latter half of the twentieth ...more

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    • Age: Died at 76 (1917-1993)
    • Birthplace: Harpurhey, Greater Manchester, North West England, United Kingdom, with Dependencies and Territories
    • Profession: Educationalist, Linguist, Poet, Librettist, Novelist, + more
  4. 4
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Abū al-Rayhān Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Bīrūnī, known as Al-Biruni in English, was a Persian Muslim scholar and polymath from the Khwarezm region. Al-Biruni is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the medieval Islamic era and was well versed in physics, mathematics, astronomy, and natural sciences, ...more

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    • Age: Died at 75 (973-1048)
    • Birthplace: Khwarezm
    • Profession: Linguist, Mathematician, Anthropologist, Scholar, Physicist, + more
  5. 5

    Larry Wall is a computer programmer and author, most widely known as the creator of the Perl programming language.more

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    • Age: age 61
    • Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States of America
    • Profession: Programmer, Linguist, Computer scientist, Author
  6. 6
    Leone Battista Alberti
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Leon Battista Alberti was an Italian humanist author, artist, architect, poet, priest, linguist, philosopher and cryptographer; he epitomised the Renaissance Man. Although he is often characterized as an "architect" exclusively, as James Beck has observed, "to single out one of Leon Battista's 'fields' ...more

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    • Age: Died at 68 (1404-1472)
    • Birthplace: Genoa, Italy
    • Profession: Priest, Linguist, Painter, Poet, Architect, + more
  7. 7

    Steven Arthur Pinker is a Canadian-born American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and popular science author. He is a Harvard College Professor and the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary ...more

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    • Age: age 61
    • Birthplace: Montreal, Canada
    • Profession: Linguist, Cognitive scientist, Professor, Psychologist, Scientist, + more
  8. 8
    Edward Sapir
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Edward Sapir was an American anthropologist-linguist, who is widely considered to be one of the most important figures in the early development of the discipline of linguistics. Sapir was born in German Pomerania; his parents emigrated to America when he was a child. He studied Germanic linguistics at ...more

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    • Age: Died at 55 (1884-1939)
    • Birthplace: Lębork, Poland
    • Profession: Linguist, Anthropologist, Scientist
  9. 9
    James Owen Dorsey
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    James Owen Dorsey was an American ethnologist, linguist, and Episcopalian missionary in the Dakota Territory, who contributed to the description of the Ponca, Omaha, and other southern Siouan languages. He worked for the Bureau of American Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution from 1880-1895, when he ...more

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    • Age: Died at 47 (1848-1895)
    • Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America
    • Profession: Linguist, Anthropologist, Ethnologist
  10. 10


    Pāṇini, or Panini, was a Sanskrit grammarian from ancient India. He was born in Pushkalavati, Gandhara — on the outskirts of modern-day Charsadda — a city in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Pāṇini is known for his Sanskrit grammar, particularly for his formulation of the 3,996 rules of ...more

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    • Birthplace: Shalatula, Pakistan
  11. 11

    Leonard Bloomfield was an American linguist who led the development of structural linguistics in the United States during the 1930s and the 1940s. His influential textbook Language, published in 1933, presented a comprehensive description of American structural linguistics. He made significant ...more

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    • Age: Died at 62 (1887-1949)
    • Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
    • Profession: Scientist
  12. 12


    Abū Bishr ʿAmr ibn ʿUthmān ibn Qanbar Al-Baṣrī, commonly known as Sībawayh, was an influential linguist and grammarian of the Arabic language. His seminal work Al-Kitab was the first written grammar of the language. Despite his significance to the development of the Arabic language and linguistic ...more

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    • Age: Died at 36 (760-796)
    • Birthplace: Beyza, Iran
  13. 13

    Bernard Comrie

    Bernard Comrie is a British-born linguist. Comrie is a specialist in linguistic typology and linguistic universals, and on Caucasian languages. He is currently a professor at and director of the Department of Linguistics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and ...more

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    • Age: age 68
    • Birthplace: Sunderland, United Kingdom
  14. 14
    Carol Chomsky
    Photo: Freebase/Fair use

    Carol Chomsky is a professor.more

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    • Age: Died at 78 (1930-2008)
    • Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
    • Profession: Linguist, Author, Teacher
  15. 15
    John McWhorter
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    John Hamilton McWhorter V is an American linguist and political commentator. He is the author of a number of books on language and on race relations. His research specialties are how creole languages form and how language grammars change as the result of sociohistorical phenomena.more

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    • Age: age 50
    • Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
    • Profession: Linguist, Author, Teacher
  16. 16

    Karl Brugmann

    Karl Brugmann
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Karl Brugmann was a German linguist. He is highly regarded for his work in Indo-European linguistics.more

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    • Age: Died at 70 (1849-1919)
    • Birthplace: Wiesbaden, Germany
  17. 17

    Peter Nielsen Ladefoged was a British linguist and phonetician who travelled the world to document the distinct sounds of endangered languages and pioneered ways to collect and study data. He was active at the universities of Edinburgh, Scotland and Ibadan, Nigeria 1953–61. At Edinburgh he studied ...more

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    • Age: Died at 81 (1925-2006)
    • Birthplace: Sutton, London, United Kingdom
    • Profession: Linguist
  18. 18
    Wilhelm von Humboldt
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt was a Prussian philosopher, government functionary, diplomat, and founder of the Humboldt University of Berlin, which was named after him in 1949. He is especially remembered as a linguist who made important contributions to the philosophy of ...more

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    • Age: Died at 68 (1767-1835)
    • Birthplace: Potsdam, Germany
    • Profession: Diplomat, Philosopher
  19. 19

    Jens Otto Harry Jespersen or Otto Jespersen was a Danish linguist who specialized in the grammar of the English language.more

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    • Age: Died at 83 (1860-1943)
    • Birthplace: Randers, Denmark
  20. 20

    Felicitas D. Goodman

    Felicitas D. Goodman was an American linguist and anthropologist. She was a highly regarded expert in linguistics and anthropology and researched and explored ritual body postures for many years. She studied the phenomenon of "speaking in tongues" in Pentecostal congregations in Mexico. She is the ...more

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    • Age: Died at 91 (1914-2005)
    • Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
    • Profession: Linguist, Anthropologist
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