Robbins Burling

Professor (Emeritus) of Anthropology and Linguistics
University of Michigan


Mailing Addresses:

Department of Linguistics
440 Lorch Hall, 611 Tappan St.
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109 USA

Home Phone: 1-734-663-1184
Office: 1-734-763-1057


Biographical Data


Recent and Forthcoming Publications

Evolution of Language

1999. "Motivation, Conventionalization and Arbitrariness". In Barbara J.King (ed.) The Origins of Language: What Nonhuman Primates Can Tell Us. Santa Fe: School of Amerian Research Press. 307-350.

1999. Review of Savage-Rumbaugh, Sue, Stuart G. Shanker, and Talbot J. Taylor. Apes, Language and the Human Mind. Language. Vol 75: 591-593.

1999. "The cognitive prerequisites for language": Target article on language prerequisites. PSYCOLOQUY 10(032). psyc.99.10.032.language-prerequisites.1.burling

2000 "Comprehension, Production, and Conventionalization in the Origins of Language". Chris Knight, Michael Studdert-Kennedy, and James Hurford (eds.) The Emergence of Langauge: Social Function and the Origins of Linguistic Form.  Cambridge University Press.  27-39.. 

2002. "The Slow Growth of Language in Children". In Alison Wray (ed.) The Transition to Language.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.  297-311. 

2003.  Review of Ray Jackendoff.  Foundations of Language.  Languge in Society. 32:415-418.

2003.  Review of Michael W. Corballis.  From Hand to Mouth. Evolution of Communication 4:2 297-300.

2005. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. Oxford: Oxford University Press. UK: August 2005; USA: November 2005. Chapter One

2004. “Prosody is not Language”. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 27:509 Commentary on Dean Falk “Prelinguistic evolution in early hominins: Whence motherese?” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27:491-541.



1999. "Phom Phonology and Word List". Linguistics of the Tibeto Burman Area (with L. Amon Phom). 21.2: 13-42.

1999. "Wancho Phonology and Word List". Language of the Tibeto Burman Area. (with Mankai Wanchu). 21: 43-71.

2000. "A Note on 'Kamarupan'". Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. 22.2: 169-170.

2001. (with U. V. Joseph.) "Tone Correspondences in the Bodo Languages". Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. Vol. 24.2: 41-53. (With U.V. Joseph).

2003  "Garo".In Graham Thurgood and Randy LaPolla (eds.) The Sino-Tibetan Languages. London: Curzon Press.  487-400.

2003. "Tibeto-Burman Languages of North-East India". In GrahamThurgood and Randy LaPolla (eds.) The Sino-Tibetan Languages. London: Curzon Press.  169-191..

2004. Language of the Modhupur Mandi.  Volume I.  Grammar. New Delhi: Bibliophile South Asia.

2004. The Language of the Modhupur Mandi.  Volume II.  The Lexicon.

2004. The Language of the Modhupur Mandi.  Volume III.  Glossary.

2006. (with U. V. Joseph) Comparative Phonology of the Boro-Garo Languages. Central Institute of Indian Linguistics. Autumn 2005. Spread sheet for Garo-Boro cognates. Directions for using the spread sheet.

In Press. “Change with Continuity in the Boro Garo Languages”. Proceedings of the first conference on Northeast Indian Languages and Linguistics, Guwahati 2006

2012. Where did the question “where did my tribe come from?” come from?


Ethnology of Northeastern India and Bangladesh

1998. "The Border that Divides the Garos". in Manis. Kumar. Raha and Aloke. Kumar. Gosh, eds. North-East India: The Human Interface. New Delhi: Gyan Books. 345-363.

1998. "Assimilation and Separatism: Acceptance and Rejection of Bengali Influence by the Mandi of Bangladesh". In Enayet Rahim (ed.) Contributions to Bengal Studies: an Interdisciplinary and International Approach. Dhaka: Pustaka. 397-406

1998. "Return to Rengsanggri" Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities. (Shillong, India). Vol 1. No. 2. 21-45. 1999.

1999. "Mandi Men and Mandi Women" in Willem van Schendel and Ellen Ball (eds.). Bangali Chara Anyanya Jatir Prasanga (The many People of Bengal: Studies on Non-Bengali Groups). 207-221. In Bengali.

2000 (with Anne Hvenekilde and Caroline R. Marak). "Personal Names in a Mande Village".  Names: A Journal of Onomastics.  48.2: 83-104.

2003. "Where did the Garos come from?" In Momin, Minionette (ed.) Felicitation volume for Prof. Milton Sangma.  Shillong.

In press. “Language, Ethnicity and Identity in Northeasern India”.  in a book to be edited by Erik de Maaker and Vibha Joshi