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Joan Bybee
Distinguished Professor, Emerita

Personal Website

Throughout my career I have tried to understand the structure of language through the cognitive processes that are active when language is used and the resulting usage patterns. One important source of insight into these issues is language change. I have investigated language change in individual languages and in large crosslinguistic surveys. I have used the crosslinguistic and diachronic methods to study phonology, morphology, grammaticalization (change in both form and meaning) and constructional change.

Educational History

  • University of Texas Austin, BA Spanish and English1966
  • San Diego State University, MA Linguistics 1970
  • University of California, Los Angeles, PhD Linguistics 1973

Selected Publications


  • Bybee, Joan. 2010. Language, usage and cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bybee, Joan. 2007. Frequency of use and the organization of language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Bybee, Joan. 2001. Phonology and language use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bybee, Joan, Revere Perkins and William Pagliuca. 1994. The evolution of grammar: tense, aspect and modality in the languages of the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Bybee, Joan L. 1985. Morphology: a study of the relation between meaning and form. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Korean translation by Seongha Rhee and Hyun Jung Koo. Soeul: Hankook Publishing Company. 2000.
  • Hooper, Joan B. 1976. An introduction to natural generative phonology. New York: Academic Press.

Recent Articles and Chapters

  • Bybee, Joan L. 2013. Usage-based theory and exemplar representation. In Thomas Hoffman and Graeme Trousdale (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Construction Grammar, pp. 49-69. Oxford University Press.
  • Bybee, Joan. 2012. Patterns of lexical diffusion and articulatory motivation for sound change. In Maria-Josep Solé and Daniel Recasens (eds.) The initiation of sound change: perception, production and social factors, p. 211-234. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co.
  • Bybee, Joan. 2012. Domain-general processes as the basis for grammar. In Maggie Tallerman and Kathleen R. Gibson (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Language Evolution, pp. 528-536. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Bybee, Joan. 2011. Usage-based theory and grammaticalization. In Heiko Narrog and Bernd Heine (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Grammaticalization, 69-78. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Bybee Joan. 2010. Markedness: iconicity, economy and frequency. In Jae Jong Song (ed.) Handbook of Linguistic Typology, 131-147. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Bybee, Joan and Clay Beckner. 2009. Usage-based theory. In H. Narrog and B. Heine (eds.) Handbook Linguistic Analysis, 827-855. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Bybee, Joan and Rena Torres Cacoullos. 2009 . The role of prefabs in grammaticization: How the particular and the general interact in language change. In Roberta Corrigan, Edith Moravcsik, Hamid Ouali, and Kathleen Wheatley (eds.). Formulaic Language, Volume I, 187-217. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, Typological Studies in Language
  • Beckner, Clay, and Joan Bybee. 2009. A usage-based account of constituency and reanalysis. Language Learning 59: Suppl. 1, December, 29–48.

Awards, or Awards and Grants

  • UNM Research Lecturer 2004
  • LSA President 2004
  • Distinguished Professor from 2005
  • Honorary Doctorate, University of Oslo 2006