Kenneth S. Olson


Current Research

Rare speech sounds

Kenneth Olson conducts research on rare speech sounds around the world. These include the labiodental flap, found predominantly in central Africa, the interdental approximant, found in the Philippines and Western Australia, the plain voiced linguolabial plosive, found in Guinea-Bissau, and bilabial trills, found mostly in central Africa, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu.

References on rare speech sounds

Language documentation: Digital wordlists

Kenneth Olson conducts research on best practices for the documentation of wordlists that include audio recordings, including issues of archiving and present-day access. To date, he has co-published five wordlists in online open-access linguistics journals (see below). The methodology employed in creating these wordlists is discussed in Simons, Olson & Frank (2007).

Key publications on digital wordlists

The Mono language

Mono regions

Kenneth Olson conducts research on the Mono language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mono is a Banda language, part of the larger Ubangian language group. The ISO 639–3 code (aka “Ethnologue code”) for Mono is mnh.

The Phonology of Mono

Olson’s book, The Phonology of Mono, describes the sound system of Mono. It can be ordered from the SIL International Academic Bookstore. To order, click here. A CD containing the audio recordings that accompany the book may be ordered by contacting the author directly.

For a listing of libraries that have The Phonology of Mono, check out the Worldcat entry for the book.

Key publications on Mono

Niger-Congo Classification

Kenneth Olson conducts research on the classification of the Niger-Congo language family. Niger-Congo contains an estimated 1,500 languages, i.e. about one-fifth of the world’s languages. The name “Niger-Congo” is from the two major rivers in the region.

The Niger-Congo languages cover most of sub-Saharan Africa. The northern border of the family stretches along a line between Senegal in the west and Kenya in the east. In the extreme southern part of the continent, Niger-Congo languages are intermingled with languages from the Khoisan family. The large Bantu subgroup of Niger-Congo covers most of Africa south of the equator.

Key publications on Niger-Congo

E-mail address: ken1 (AT)
Copyright © 2012 Kenneth S. Olson.