138.4k readers

List of Famous Linguists

138.4k views178 items

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. 

  • 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...  more
  • Marc Okrand

    Marc Okrand (; born July 3, 1948) is an American linguist. His professional work is in Native American languages, and he is well known as the creator of the Klingon language in the Star Trek science...  more
  • Ferdinand de Saussure (; French: [fɛʁdinɑ̃ də sosyʁ]; 26 November 1857 – 22 February 1913) was a Swiss linguist and semiotician. His ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in both...  more
  • Morris Swadesh (; January 22, 1909 – July 20, 1967) was an American linguist who specialized in comparative and historical linguistics. Swadesh was born in Massachusetts to Bessarabian Jewish...  more
  • Karl Gustav Vollmöller (or Vollmoeller; 7 May 1878 – 18 October 1948) was a German philologist, archaeologist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and aircraft designer. He is most famous for the...  more
  • John Maxwell Coetzee () (born 9 February 1940) is a South African-born novelist, essayist, linguist, translator and recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. He has also won the Booker Prize...  more
  • John DeFrancis (August 31, 1911 – January 2, 2009) was an American linguist, sinologist, author of Chinese language textbooks, lexicographer of Chinese dictionaries, and Professor Emeritus of Chinese...  more
  • William Stokoe

    William C. Stokoe Jr. ( STOH-kee; July 21, 1919 in New Hampshire – April 4, 2000 in Chevy Chase, Maryland), a long-time professor at Gallaudet University, was an American linguist. His research on...  more
  • Roman Osipovich Jakobson (Russian: Рома́н О́сипович Якобсо́н; October 11, 1896 – July 18, 1982) was an American linguist and literary theorist. A pioneer of structural linguistics, Jakobson was one...  more
  • Daniel Jurafsky is a Professor of Linguistics and Computer Science at Stanford University and author. With Daniel Gildea, he is known for developing the first automatic system for semantic role...  more
  • Ivan Andrew Sag (November 9, 1949 – September 10, 2013) was an American linguist and cognitive scientist....  more
  • Luce Irigaray (born 3 May 1930) is a Belgian-born French feminist, philosopher, linguist, psycholinguist, psychoanalyst and cultural theorist. She is best known for her works Speculum of the Other...  more
  • Mary Rosamond Haas (January 23, 1910 – May 17, 1996) was an American linguist who specialized in North American Indian languages, Thai, and historical linguistics....  more
  • Donna Jo Napoli (born February 28, 1948) 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,...  more
  • Mīr 'Alisher Navaiy (9 February 1441 – 3 January 1501), also known as Nizām-al-Din ʿAlisher Herawī (Chagatai-Turkic/Persian: نظام‌الدین علی‌شیر نوایی‎) was a Chagatai Turkic poet, writer,...  more
  • Alfred Marston Tozzer (4 July 1877 – 5 October 1954) was an American anthropologist, archaeologist, linguist, and educator. His principal area of interest was Mesoamerican, especially Maya, studies....  more
  • Kathryn "Kate" Burridge, FAHA, is a prominent Australian linguist specialising in the Germanic languages. Burridge currently occupies the Chair of Linguistics in the School of Languages, Literatures,...  more
  • George P. Lakoff (; born May 24, 1941) is an American cognitive linguist and philosopher, best known for his thesis that lives of individuals are significantly influenced by the central metaphors...  more
  • Count Jan Potocki (Polish pronunciation: [ˈjan pɔˈtɔt͡skʲi]; 8 March 1761 – 23 December 1815) was a Polish nobleman, Polish Army Captain of Engineers, ethnologist, Egyptologist, linguist, traveler,...  more
  • George Chychele Waterston was a language teacher and the father of Sam Waterston....  more
  • Gregory Bateson (9 May 1904 – 4 July 1980) was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician, and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other...  more
  • Michael George Clyne, AM, FAHA, FASSA (12 October 1939 – 29 October 2010) was an Australian linguist, academic and intellectual. He was a scholar in various fields of linguistics, including...  more
  • Harlan Lawson Lane (August 19, 1936 – July 13, 2019) was an American psychologist. Lane was the Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University in Boston,...  more
  • Henry Meschonnic (18 September 1932, Paris – 8 April 2009, Villejuif) was a French poet, linguist, essayist and translator. He's remembered today as both a theoretician of language and as a...  more
  • Muhammad Asad (pronounced [ˈmoʊ̯hämæd ˈæsæd] (listen), Arabic: محمد أسد‎ /muħammad ʔasad/, Urdu: محمد أسد‎, born Leopold Weiss; 2 July 1900 – 20 February 1992) was an Austro-Hungarian-born Muslim...  more