Byron W. Bender’s Home Page

Byron W. Bender
Department of Linguistics, University of Hawai‘i
1890 East-West Road, Honolulu, HI 96822

Drop me a line:


  1. Education
  2. Positions Held
  3. Instruction
  4. Research
  5. Faculty Advocacy
  6. Service to the Profession
  7. Community Service
  8. International Interests
  9. Publications on Marshallese
  10. Other Publications

Last Modified: September 4, 2014


B.A. (English) 1949, Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana
M.A. (linguistics) 1950, Indiana University
Ph.D. (linguistics; minor, anthropology) 1963, Indiana University

Linguistic Institutes, Linguistic Society of America
1950 University of Michigan
1952 Indiana University
1972 University of North Carolina
1977 University of Hawai‘i

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Positions Held

1953–59 Education Specialist, Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands
1960–62 Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology, Goshen College (Indiana); Instructor, English Language Institute, University of Pennsylvania (summers)
1962–64 English Program Supervisor, Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands
1964–69 Associate Professor, University of Hawai‘i
1969–99 Professor, University of Hawai‘i; Chair, Department of Linguistics (1969–95)
2000–  Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, University of Hawai‘i

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He has supervised six Ph.D. dissertations (one on Hawaiian, and five on various languages of Micronesia) and has served on some 40 additional dissertation committees to date (most of these also treating languages of the Pacific or Asia). As Chair of the Department of Linguistics from 1969–95, he provided leadership and helped shape Hawai‘i’s unique and highly-rated program. He has taught a range of courses including Articulatory Phonetics, Acoustic Phonetics, and Field Methods, and in recent years taught (in addition to the introductory course in General Linguistics) an occasional Seminar on Micronesian Linguistics and the department’s introductory course on Morphology.

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His research has focused on the languages of Micronesia, where he spent most of a decade before joining the University of Hawai‘i faculty. He is credited with the discovery of unique and distinctive aspects of the sound system of the language of the Marshall Islands, has produced (together with three coauthors from the islands) a Marshallese–English dictionary, and is currently working on a Marshallese reference grammar. Much of his research in recent years has focused on Micronesian as a subgroup within the Austronesian language family (coordinate, for example, with Polynesian); this has involved the collection of a large computerized database of cognates in Micronesian languages. He presided over arrangements for the 6th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (6ICAL) held in Honolulu in 1991, and has been active at the successor conferences (7ICAL at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands in 1994, and 8ICAL at Academic Sinica on Taiwan in 1997). From 1965 to 1991 he was Managing Editor of Oceanic Linguistics; from 1991 through 2006 he was the Editor.

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Faculty Advocacy

He has been active in two national faculty advocacy organizations, the AAUP (chapter delegate to annual meetings (1979–83) and member of the Council (1982–83)), and the NEA (participant in annual Higher Education Conferences (1983–89), and member of the Standing Committee on Higher Education (1985–89). He served 16 years on the Board of Directors of the University of Hawai‘i Professional Assembly (six as President), and for six years on the Mānoa Faculty Senate Executive Committee.

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Service to the Profession

He has been active in the Linguistic Society of America: Director of the Linguistic Institute co-hosted by the University of Hawai‘i and the East-West Center July 11–August 18, 1977, Member of the Program Committee (1987–89), Chair of the Program Committee and Ex-Officio Member of the Executive Committee (1989), Parliamentarian (1995–97). He has served as external reviewer for programs at universities in Canada and New Zealand.

Community Service

Within the State of Hawai‘i, he was a member (1983–84) of Task Force E (Leadership, Fiscal Support, and Communication) of the [Hawai‘i State] Board of Education /[University of Hawai‘i] Board of Regents Cooperative Study of Education in Hawai'i which resulted in the report Hawai‘i: Toward Excellence in Education (February, 1985); of the Subcommittee on Higher Education, Visions for the Future Conference, Hawai‘i Democratic Action (1985); and the Community Leader Forum Work Team on Income, Decisions ’87: Strategies for a Stronger Community, Health and Community Services Council of Hawai‘i and Aloha United Way; Member Funding Work Team Subcommittee II, Action `88 (A Project of Health and Community Services Council of Hawai‘i and Aloha United Way)(1987–88).

For almost six years (1983–88) he was a weekly columnist on University issues for VIEWPOINT on Radio Station KHVH. In 1987 he was appointed by the Governor to the Hawai‘i Public Employees Health Fund Board, where he served for eight years. During the last four he was Chair of the Benefits Committee and Vice Chair of the Board. In 2003 he was appointed to the Board of Regents of the University of Hawai‘i and served through June 2008.

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International Interests

B. W. Bender was for more than a decade (in the fifties and sixties) Language Adviser to the Director of Education of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (Micronesia), and was responsible for the development of Peace Corps language lessons for the Marshallese language in the late sixties. He worked closely with D. M. Topping on the development of the original proposals that resulted in the Bilingual Education Project for Micronesia, which brought almost $1 million of external support to the University of Hawai‘i over the period 1974–82. He was also a consultant to the New Zealand Council for Educational Research in the late sixties on issues in Māori education. He was Principal Investigator for the following NSF grants: 1972, Handbook of Comparative Tai (Co-Principal Investigator with F. K. Li), and 1977, Symposium on Korean Linguistics (in connection with Linguistic Society of America Linguistic Institute). He has served as consultant to educational and cultural leaders in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (including the Historical Preservation Officer and others at the Alele Museum) on measures to preserve and enhance the Marshallese language.

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Publications on Marshallese

A linguistic analysis of the place-names of the Marshall Islands. Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, 1963.

Marshallese phonemics: Labialization or palatalization? Word 19(3): 335–41, December 1963.

Marshallese phonology. Oceanic Linguistics 7(2): 16–35, Winter 1968.

Vowel dissimilation in Marshallese. Working Papers in Linguistics [Department of Linguistics, University of Hawai‘i] 1(1): 88–95, January 1969.

Spoken Marshallese: An intensive course with grammatical notes and glossary. University of Hawai‘i Press, 1969.

An Oceanic place-name study. In Pacific Linguistic Studies in Honour of Arthur Capell, ed. by S. A. Wurm and D. C. Laycock, 165–88. (Pacific Linguistics C-13), Linguistic Circle of Canberra, 1970.

Parallelisms in the morphophonemics of several Micronesian languages. Oceanic Linguistics 12:455–77 Summer & Winter 1973.

Marshallese-English dictionary, with Takaji Abo, Alfred Capelle, and Tony DeBrum. (PALI Language Texts: Micronesia), The University Press of Hawai‘i, 1976. Revised ed., 2009. : and

Review of Francois-Xavier Nicolas Zewen, The Marshallese language: A study of its phonology, morphology, and syntax (Dietrich Reimer, Berlin, 1977). Journal of the Polynesian Society 88(1):118–20, March 1978.

A fossilized article in Marshallese. In Studies in Pacific Languages and Cultures: in honour of Bruce Biggs, ed. by Jim Hollyman and Andrew Pawley, 209–28. Linguistic Society of New Zealand, Auckland, 1981.

Studies in Micronesian linguistics (editor). Object marking in Marshallese, 443–65. (Pacific Linguistics C-80), Linguistic Circle of Canberra, 1984.

Lexical transfer from Marshallese to Mokilese: A study in intra-Micronesian borrowing, with Kenneth L. Rehg. Oceanic Linguistics 29:1–26, 1990.

On the category distributive. In Currents in Pacific linguistics: Papers on Austronesian languages and ethnolinguistics in honour of George W. Grace, ed. by Robert Blust, 11–26. (Pacific Linguistics C-117), Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University, 1991.

Language reform in a Micronesian context. In Language reform: History and future, vol. 6, ed. by István Fodor and Claude Hagège,  86–99. Helmut Buske, Hamburg, 1994.

Dealing with the ABCs of Marshallese over twenty years, with Alfred Capelle. In Pacific Languages in Education, ed. by France Mugler and John Lynch,  36–75. The University of the South Pacific: Institute of Pacific Studies, Suva; Department of Literature and Language, Suva; Pacific Languages Unit, Vanuatu, 1996.

Distinguishing between inflection and derivation. In Reconstruction, classification, description: Festschrift in honor of Isidore Dyen, ed. by Bernd Nothofer,  199–207. Abera Network Asia-Pacific, vol. 3. Abera Verlag Meyer & Co., Hamburg, 1996.

Proto-Micronesian reconstructions. With Ward H. Goodenough, Frederick H. Jackson, Jeffrey C. Marck, Kenneth L. Rehg, Ho-Min Sohn, Stephen Trussel, and Judith W. Wang. Oceanic Linguistics 42:1–110, 271–370, 2003.

The whole-word morphology of Micronesian noun inflection. In Streams converging into an ocean: Festschrift in honor of Professor Paul Jen-Kuei Li on his 70th birthday, ed. by Henry Y. Chang, Lillian M. Huang, and Dah-an Ho. Language and Linguistics Monograph Series Number W-5. Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, 2006.

The languages of Micronesia. 2013. In Language in Hawai‘i and the Pacific, ed. by Hiroko Sato and Jacob Terrell, 97–107. Class Reader for Ling 100, Department of Linguistics, University of Hawai‘i.

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Other publications

Friulian phonology, with Zdeňek Salzmann and Giuseppi Francescato. Word 8(3): 216–23, December 1952.

A manual for teachers of English in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, with Gregory J. Trifonovitch. [Office of the High Commissioner] Saipan, 1965.

Review of Leonard Newmark, Jerome Mintz, and Jan Lawson Hinely, Using American English (Harper and Row, 1964). Language Learning XVII(ii & iv):207–14, December 1967.

Pretences in language teaching. English Language Teaching 19(1):6–13, October 1964. Reprinted in The N[ational] A[ssociation of] T[eachers of] E[nglish] Bulletin [Republic of China] 1(2):89–96, January–April 1965. Reprinted in Journal of English Teaching [Oxford University Press K. K. in association with the British Council in Japan] 2(2): 22–32, July 1968.

Micronesian languages. In Current Trends in Linguistics 8: Linguistics in Oceania, ed. by Thomas A. Sebeok, pages 426–65. Mouton, The Hague, 1971.

Linguistic factors in Maori education. New Zealand Council for Educational Research, Wellington, 1971.

A Ulithian grammar, with Ho-min Sohn. Pacific Linguistics Series C-27. Linguistic Circle of Canberra, 1973.

Micronesia/la Micronésie. In Linguistic Composition of the Nations of the World 4: Oceania/Composition Linguistique des Nations du Monde 4: L'Océanie, ed. by Heinz Kloss and Grant C. McConnell, pages 41–53. Publications of the International Center for Research on Bilingualism, Series E. Les Presses de l'université Laval, Québec, 1981.

Obituary of Ruth Crymes. L[inguistic] S[ociety of] A[merica] Bulletin 97:10, October 1982.

Review of Samuel H. Elbert and Mary Kawena Pukui, Hawaiian Grammar (The University Press of Hawai‘iHawai‘i, 1979). Journal of the Polynesian Society 91(4):73–76, December 1982.

Comments on Mac Marshall, Structural patterns of sibling classification in island Oceania: Implications for culture history. Current Anthropology 25(5): 625–26, 1984.

Micronesian cognate sets. With Robert W. Hsu, Frederick H. Jackson, Jeffrey C. Marck, Kenneth L. Rehg, Ho-min Sohn, Stephen Trussel, and Judith W. Wang. Computer printout. Honolulu, Department of Linguistics, University of Hawai‘i. 1984.

University views. University of Hawai‘i Hawai‘i Professional Assembly, 1985.

The status of Proto-Micronesian, with Judith W. Wang. In Austronesian linguistics at the 15th Pacific Science Congress, ed. by Andrew Pawley and Lois Carrington, 53–92. (Pacific Linguistics C-88), Linguistic Circle of Canberra, 1985.

Response: Evaluation at the University of Hawai‘i (Symposium on Post-Tenure Evaluation) Thought & Action 4(1):61–64, Spring 1988.

Predicting morphological change. In East Meets West: Homage to Edgar C. Knowlton, Jr., ed. by Roger Hadlich and J. D. Ellsworth, 17–31. Department of European Languages and Literature, University of Hawai‘i, Honolulu, 1988.

Notes from the field: Lend me your ears! Oceanic Linguistics 34:226–32, 1995.

Fred Walter Householder. [An obituary].Language 73:560–70, 1997.

Linguistics. In Dictionary of American history: Supplement. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1996.

Markedness and iconicity: Some questions. In Case, typology, and grammar: In honour of Barry J. Blake, ed. by Anna Siewierska and Jae Jung Song, 57–70. Typological Studies in Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1998.

The sign gravitates to the word. In Productivity and creativity: Studies in general and descriptive linguistics in honor of E. M. Uhlenbeck, ed. by Mark Janse, 15–26. Trends in Linguistics, Studies and Monographs 116. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1998.

Paradigms as rules. In Grammatical analysis: Morphology, syntax, and semantics: Studies in honor of Stanley Starosta, ed. by Videa De Guzman and Byron W. Bender, 14–29. Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication No. 29. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i, 2000.

In memoriam: Stanley Starosta 1939–2002. Oceanic Linguistics 41:235–74, 2002.

A perfect strategy for Latin. In Explorations in seamless morphology, ed. by Rajendra Singh and Stanley Starosta, 301–27. New Delhi: Sage Publications. 2003.

In memoriam, Donald M. Topping, 1929–2003. With Priscilla Topping. Oceanic Linguistics 42:514–21, 2003.

One of my mentors. In Piakandatu ami Dr. Howard P. McKaughan, ed. by Loren Billings and Nelleke Goudswaard, 50–52. Manila: Linguistic Society of the Philippines and SIL Philippines, 2007.

Fred W. Householder. In 2nd edition of Lexicon grammaticorum : A bio-bibliographical companion to the history of linguistics. Harro Stammerjohann, ed. Tübingen : Niemeyer, 2009.

Fêting Bob’s career to date. In Austronesian historical linguistics and culture history: A festschrift for Robert Blust, ed. by Alexander Adelaar and Andrew Pawley, 17–18. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 2009.

A special power. In A journey through Austronesian and Papuan linguistic and cultural space: Papers in honour of Andrew Pawley, ed. by John Bowden, Nikolaus Himmelmann, and Malcolm Ross, 3–4. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 2010.

The first fifty years of Oceanic Linguistics, with George W. Grace and John Lynch. Oceanic Linguistics 50:285–311, 2011.

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Books Edited and Typeset

1995    Midori Osumi. Tinrin grammar. Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication No. 25. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.

1995    John W. M. Verhaar. Toward a reference grammar of Tok Pisin: An experiment in corpus linguistics. Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication No. 26. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.

2000    With Videa P. De Guzman. Grammatical Analysis: Morphology, Syntax, and Semantics: Studies in Honor of Stanley Starosta. Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication No. 29. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.

2002    Jack A. Tobin. Stories from the Marshall Islands. PALI Language Texts. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.

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