READ 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. You might also enjoy the world's strangest languages and 30 Eastern language words English doesn't have. 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.

This list of great people of linguistics include Noam Chomsky, Larry Wall, J. R. R. Tolkien, and more. 

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. 

Noam Chomsky is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, political commentator, social justice activist, and anarcho-syndicalist advocate. Sometimes described as ...more

Pier Paolo Pasolini is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Linguists
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 ...more

Anthony Burgess is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Linguists
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, ...more

Al-Biruni is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Linguists
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 ...more

Larry Wall is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Larry Wall is a computer programmer and author, most widely known as the creator of the Perl programming language.

Desiderius Erasmus is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, or simply Erasmus, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, social critic, teacher, and theologian. Erasmus was a ...more

Leone Battista Alberti is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Linguists
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 ...more

Steven Pinker is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list List of Famous Linguists
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 ...more

J. R. R. Tolkien is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list List of Famous Linguists
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE FRSL was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor who is best known as the author of the classic high-fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of ...more

Edward Sapir is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list List of Famous Linguists
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 ...more

Mikhail Bakhtin is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin was a Russian philosopher, literary critic, semiotician and scholar who worked on literary theory, ethics, and the philosophy of language. His writings, on a variety ...more

Antonio Gramsci is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Antonio Gramsci was an Italian Marxist theoretician and politician. He wrote on political theory, sociology and linguistics. He was a founding member and one-time leader of the Communist Party ...more

James Owen Dorsey is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list List of Famous Linguists
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 ...more

Pāṇini is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Pāṇini 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 ...more

Leonard Bloomfield is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list List of Famous Linguists
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 ...more

Sibawayh is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Sibawayh 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 ...more

Alexander Graham Bell is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Alexander Graham Bell was an eminent Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone. Bell's father, grandfather, and ...more

Bernard Comrie is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list List of Famous Linguists
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 ...more

Carol Chomsky is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Carol Chomsky is a professor.

John McWhorter is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list List of Famous Linguists
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 ...more

Karl Brugmann is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Karl Brugmann Karl Brugmann was a German linguist. He is highly regarded for his work in Indo-European linguistics.

W. S. Merwin is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list List of Famous Linguists
William Stanley Merwin is an American poet, credited with over fifty books of poetry, translation and prose. During the 1960s anti-war movement, Merwin's unique craft was thematically ...more

Peter Ladefoged is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list List of Famous Linguists
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 ...more

Wilhelm von Humboldt is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list List of Famous Linguists
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 ...more

Otto Jespersen is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Jens Otto Harry Jespersen or Otto Jespersen was a Danish linguist who specialized in the grammar of the English language.

Felicitas D. Goodman is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list List of Famous Linguists
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 ...more

Marc Okrand is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Marc Okrand Marc Okrand is an American linguist, well known as the creator of the Klingon language.

Ferdinand de Saussure is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist and semiotician whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments both in linguistics and semiology in the 20th century. He is widely ...more

Morris Swadesh is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Morris Swadesh was an influential and controversial American linguist. In his work, he applied basic concepts in historical linguistics to the Indigenous languages of the Americas. In Europe ...more

Karl Vollmöller is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Karl Gustav Vollmöller, usually written Vollmoeller was a German playwright and screenwriter. He is most famous for two works, the screenplay for the celebrated 1930 German film Der Blaue ...more

J. M. Coetzee is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list List of Famous Linguists
John Maxwell "J. M." Coetzee is a South African novelist, essayist, linguist, translator and recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. He relocated to Australia in 2002 and ...more

John DeFrancis is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list List of Famous Linguists
John DeFrancis was an American linguist, sinologist, author of Chinese language textbooks, lexicographer of Chinese dictionaries, and Professor Emeritus of Chinese Studies at the University of ...more

William Stokoe is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list List of Famous Linguists
William Stokoe William C. Stokoe, Jr. was a professor and pioneer researcher in American Sign Language who taught at Gallaudet University. His studies of ASL on linguistic principles revolutionized the ...more

Roman Jakobson is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Roman Osipovich Jakobson was a Russian–American linguist and literary theorist. As a pioneer of the structural analysis of language, which became the dominant trend in linguistics during the ...more

Daniel Jurafsky is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Daniel Jurafsky, commonly known as Dan Jurafsky, is a Professor of Linguistics and Computer Science at Stanford University.

Ivan Sag is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Ivan Andrew Sag was an American linguist and cognitive scientist. Born in Alliance, Ohio on November 9, 1949, Sag attended the Mercersburg Academy but was expelled shortly before graduation. He ...more

Luce Irigaray is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Luce Irigaray is a Belgian-born French feminist, philosopher, linguist, psycholinguist, psychoanalyst, sociologist and cultural theorist. She is best known for her works Speculum of the Other ...more

Mary Haas is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Mary Rosamund Haas was an American linguist who specialized in North American Indian languages, Thai, and historical linguistics.

Donna Jo Napoli is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Donna Jo Napoli is an American writer of children's and young-adult fiction, as well as a prominent linguist. She has worked in syntax, phonetics, phonology, morphology, historical and ...more

Ali-Shir Nava'i is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Mīr 'Ali-Shir Nava'i, also known as Nizām-al-Din ʿAlī-Shīr Herawī was a Central Asian Turkic poet, writer, politician, linguist, mystic, and painter. He was the greatest representative of ...more

Alfred Tozzer is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Alfred Marston Tozzer was an American anthropologist, archaeologist, linguist, and educator. His principal area of interest was Mesoamerican, especially Maya, studies. He was the husband of ...more

Kate Burridge is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Professor Kate Burridge, BA, PhD, FAHA, is a prominent Australian linguist specialising in the Germanic languages. Burridge currently occupies the Chair of Linguistics in the School of ...more

George Lakoff is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list List of Famous Linguists
George P. Lakoff is an American cognitive linguist, best known for his thesis that lives of individuals are significantly influenced by the central metaphors they use to explain complex ...more

Jan Potocki is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Count Jan Nepomucen Potocki was a Polish nobleman, Polish Army Captain of Engineers, ethnologist, Egyptologist, linguist, traveler, adventurer and popular author of the Enlightenment period, ...more

George Chychele Waterston is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list List of Famous Linguists
George Chychele Waterston was a language teacher and the father of Sam Waterston.

Gregory Bateson is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Gregory Bateson was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields. In the 1940s he ...more

Michael Clyne is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Michael George Clyne, AM, FAHA, FASSA was an Australian linguist, academic and intellectual. He was a scholar in various fields of linguistics, including sociolinguistics, pragmatics, ...more

Harlan Lane is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Harlan Lane is Distinguished University professor of psychology at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States, and founder of the Center for Research in Hearing, ...more

Henri Meschonnic is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Henry Meschonnic was a French poet, linguist, essayist and translator. He's remembered today as both a theoretician of language and as a translator of the Old Testament. The 710-page Critique du ...more

Muhammad Asad is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list List of Famous Linguists
Muhammad Asad was a Jewish-born Austro-Hungarian journalist, traveler, writer, linguist, thinker, political theorist, diplomat and Islamic scholar. Asad was one of the most influential European ...more