Michael R. Marlo

Michael R. Marlo
Associate Professor
220 Tate
Areas of Study: 
African Diaspora Studies
English Language and Linguistics
Research and Teaching: 

Phonology, tone, morphology, African linguistics, Bantu languages, the description of understudied languages

My primary research interests are in phonology and its interfaces with other components of grammar. I explore theoretical questions in these areas on the basis of original data and descriptive analyses of understudied African languages. I am especially interested in the tonal systems of Bantu languages, whose complex surface patterns show interactions of lexical, phonetic, phonological, morphological, and syntactic factors. Much of my research centers on a large-scale, on-going study of the tonal systems of Luyia, a Bantu language spoken in western Kenya and eastern Uganda with over twenty linguistic varieties.


Ph.D. 2007, University of Michigan

Select Publications: 
  • Marlo, Michael R. 2015. Exceptional properties of the reflexive in Bantu languages. Nordic Journal of African Studies 24. 1-22.
  • Marlo, Michael R. 2015. On the number of object markers in Bantu languages. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 36. 1-65.
  • Marlo, Michael R., Leonard Chacha Mwita & Mary Paster. 2015. Problems in Kuria H tone assignment. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 33. 251-265.
  • Marlo, Michael R. 2014. Exceptional patterns of object marking in Bantu. Studies in African Linguistics 43. 85-123.
  • Ebarb, Kristopher J., Christopher R. Green & Michael R. Marlo. 2014. Luyia tone melodies. Africana Linguistica 20. 121-143.
  • Marlo, Michael R., Leonard Chacha Mwita & Mary Paster. 2014. Kuria tone melodies. Africana Linguistica 20. 277-294.
  • Marlo, Michael R. & David Odden. 2014. Bakweri tone melodies. Africana Linguistica 20. 295-312.
  • Marlo, Michael R. 2013. Verb tone in Bantu languages: micro-typological patterns and research methods. Africana Linguistica 19. 137-234.
  • Marlo, Michael R. 2009. Khayo verbal tonology. Africana Linguistica 15. 77-129.
  • Marlo, Michael R. 2008. Tura verbal tonology. Studies in African Linguistics 37. 153-243.
  • Botne, Robert, Hannington Ochwada & Michael R. Marlo. 2006. A Grammatical Sketch of the Lusaamia Verb. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe.
  • Marlo, Michael R. 2006. CV- root expansion in three Luyia languages. Linguistic Analysis 32. 293-326.
  • Marlo, Michael R. & Nicholas Pharris. 2004. Which Wič is which? Prefixes and suffixes in Klamath full-root reduplication. Linguistic Inquiry 35(4). 639-656.
Awards and Honors: 
  • University of Missouri Honors College, ASH Research Teams. Documenting Luyia together. 2016-2017. $22,000.
  • University of Missouri Research Board Grant. Documenting the rise of low tone in Great Lakes Bantu. 2016-2017. $19,850.
  • U.S. Fulbright Scholar Award, Kenya, Combatting language endangerment in East Africa through linguistic documentation. 2015-2016, $29,950.
  • National Science Foundation Award BCS-1355750. Collaborative Research: Structure and Tone in Luyia. Co-PI with Vicki Carstens (Southern Illinois University), Michael Diercks (Pomona College), Christopher Green (University of Maryland), David Odden (Ohio State University), and Mary Paster (Pomona College). 2014-2018, $343,479. 
  • University of Missouri Campus Writing Program’s Faculty Development Award. Scientific Writing and Fieldwork Methodology in Linguistics. 2014-2015, $3,000.
  • Mizzou Alumni Association Richard Wallace Faculty Incentive Grant. Linguistic field work apprenticeships: continuing the study of the Igala language of Nigeria. $3,000. 2014.
  • National Science Foundation Award BCS-1227164. Doctoral Dissertation Research: Tone and variation in Idakho. Co-PI with Robert Botne (Indiana University) and Kristopher Ebarb (Indiana University). 2012-2013, $11,969.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend Award FT-60326. Documenting the diversity of African tonal systems: Marachi and Wanga, two undescribed dialects of Luyia. 2012, $6,000.
  • National Science Foundation Award BCS-0545246. Doctoral Dissertation Research: The verbal tonology of four Luyia (Bantu) languages. Co-PI with Andries Coetzee (University of Michigan) and David Odden (Ohio State University). 2005-2006, $15,505.