Distinguished Faculty Professor
I studied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge and taught Russian and Linguistics there for six years before moving to the Linguistics Department of the University of Southern California, where I taught for 20 years. In 1998 I moved to Germany to take up the directorship of the Department of Linguistics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. Since 2002 I am also Distinguished Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My belief that an understanding of Language requires an understanding of as many languages of different types as possible has led me to carry out fieldwork in places as far apart as Papua New Guinea and the North Caucasus — I have been known to say: “If it’s a language, I’ll work on it.” Topics I have worked on from this cross-linguistic, typological perspective include tense and aspect, transitivity and voice, and numeral systems. My interests in new directions in historical linguistics have led me to seek out collaborations with population geneticists, archeologists, and anthropologists to combine the strengths of these disciplines in solving problems relating to prehistoric human migrations. My other interests include travel and appreciating classical music.
1972 Ph.D, University of Cambridge
2010. Bernard Comrie, Madzhid Khalilov. The Dictionary of Languages and Dialects of the Peoples of the Northern Caucasus: Comparison of the Basic Lexicon. Leipzig–Makhachkala.
2010. Andrej Malchukov, Martin Haspelmath, Bernard Comrie). ‘Ditransitive constructions: A typological overview’. In Andrej Malchukov, Martin Haspelmath, and Bernard Comrie (eds.): Studies in Ditransitive Constructions: A Comparative Handbook, 1–64. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
2010. ‘The role of verbal morphology in establishing genealogical relations among languages’. In Lars Johanson and Martine Robbeets (eds.): Transeurasian Verbal Morphology in a Comparative Perspective: Genealogy, Contact, Chance, 21–31. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
2012. Tania Kuteva, Bernard Comrie. ‘The evolution of language and elaborateness of grammar: The case of relative clauses in creole languages’. In Bernard Comrie and Zarina Estrada-Fernández (eds.): Relative Clauses in Languages of the Americas: A Typological Overview, 27–46. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
2012. Bernard Comrie, Michael Cysouw.‘New Guinea through the eyes of WALS’. Language and Linguistics in Melanesia 30: 65–94.
2012. Bernard Comrie, Zarina Estrada-Fernández (Eds.). Relative Clauses in Languages of the Americas: A Typological Overview. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
2012. Pirkko Suihkonen, Bernard Comrie, Valery Solovyev (Eds.). Argument Structure and Grammatical Relations: A Cross-Linguistic Typology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Linguistics 109: Introduction to Syntax
Linguistics 181: Languages of the World
Linguistics 222: Typology and Universals
Linguistics 256A-B: Seminar in Typology and Universals
- Recent seminar topics: Languages and Genes, Areal Typology, Typology of Reference-Tracking Systems, Alignment Typology, Typology of Ditransitive Constructions
Linguistics 261: Linguistics Beyond the Clause