Michael R. Marlo

Associate Professor

Department of English

University of Missouri



Recent Highlights


My main research activity is the grammatical description of understudied languages. I have broad interests in African linguistics and Bantu languages. Much of my work to date has focused on the tonal systems of varieties of the Luyia macrolanguage of western Kenya and eastern Uganda. I have also conducted research on other languages, including Bakweri and Igala, and have carried out a series of large-scale micro-typological studies of object marking in Bantu. My research on Luyia languages involves on-going collaborations with Vicki Carstens, Michael Diercks, Kristopher Ebarb, Christopher Green, David Odden, Mary Paster, Peter Otiato Ojiambo, and others. Our team was awarded an NSF grant in 2014. From January through June 2016, I was a Fulbright U.S. Scholar at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya. In May 2016, I organized a workshop on Tone in African Languages at KU.


At the University of Missouri, I regularly offer the courses Phonology, Syntax, Field Methods in Linguistics, and Structure of American English. I developed a course Languages of Africa, which I taught for the first time in Fall 2013. 

In Field Methods, we regularly work with speakers of African languages.

    • 2012: Tiriki (Consultant: Billystrom Jivetti)
    • 2014: Igala (Consultant: Christopher Adejo)
    • 2015: Bukusu (Consultant: Maurice Sifuna)
At Kenyatta University in Spring 2016, I offered an MA-level field methods course on the Wanga langauge of western Kenya Field Methods (Consultant: Alfred Anangwe), and an MA-level course in Phonology.

Presentations / Publications

Marlo, Michael R., Minah Nabirye, Deo Kawalya & Gilles-Maurice de Schryver. To appear. A sketch of Lower Nyole verb tone. Africana Linguistica.

Marlo, Michael R. & David Odden. To appear. Tone. In Mark Van de Velde & Koen Bostoen (eds.), The Bantu Languages, 2nd edition. London: Routledge.

Marlo, Michael R. To appear. Contributions of micro-comparative research to language documentation: Two Bantu case studies. In Jason Kandybowicz & Harold Torrence (eds.), Africa’s Endangered Languages: Documentary and Theoretical Approaches. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Marlo, Michael R. 2015. Exceptional properties of the reflexive in Bantu languagesNordic Journal of African Studies 24. 1-22.

Ebarb, Kristopher J. & Michael R. Marlo. 2015. Vowel length (in)sensitivity in Luyia morphophonology. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 33. 373-390.

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. 2015. Natural Language & 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. 2014. Collaborative research in African linguistics at MizzouNoel P. Gist Brown Bag Seminar Series, University of Missouri International Center. October 2.

Marlo, Michael R., 2013. Verb tone in Bantu languagesmicro-typological patterns and research methods. Africana Linguistica 19. 137-234.

Marlo, Michael R., Nikki Adams, Christopher R. Green, Michelle Morrison & Tristan Purvis (eds.). 2013. Selected Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference on African Linguistics. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

Marlo, Michael R. 2013. Tonal melodies and Meeussen’s Rule in Khayo. In Karsten Legère (ed.), Studies in Bantu Linguistics and Languages: Papers in memory of Professor Rugatiri Mekacha, Bayreuth: Bayreuth African Studies.

Ebarb, Kristopher J. & Michael R. Marlo. 2010. Non-spurious H-toned extensions in Nyala-West. Paper presented at ACAL 41, University of Toronto and University of York, May 6-8.
Ebarb, Kristopher J. & Michael R. Marlo. 2010. Conditioning factors in the realization of tone: Nyala-West verbs. In Samuel Obeng, Jon Anderson, & Christopher R. Green (eds.), Indiana University Working Papers in Linguistics 8: African Linguistics Across the Discipline, 85-107.
Marlo, Michael R. 2009. Luyia tonal dialectology. Paper presented at University of Nairobi, Department of Linguistics and Languages, Nairobi, Kenya, 16 December.
Marlo, Michael R. 2009. Khayo verbal tonology. 2009. Africana Linguistica 15. 77-129. Appendix

Marlo, Michael R. Tura verbal tonology. 2008. Studies in African Linguistics 37.2. 153-243.

Marlo, Michael R. 2008. Bantu tone bibliography. Ms, Indiana University.

As noted on the Luyia Dictionary Project site, we have begun editing individual Luyia dictionaries through online collaboration using the WeSay software. Please contact me if you are interested in assisting in any of the work. Some older materials are below [11 August 2011]:

Lightly edited comparative wordlist of Kisa, Tsotso, Appleby 1943, and Wanga [24 January 2010].

Unedited comparative wordlist of Idakho, Appleby 1943, and Wanga [24 January 2010].

Unedited comparative wordlist of Tura, Appleby 1943, and Wanga [24 January 2010].

Ndanyi & Ndanyi's 2005 monolingual Logoori dictionary Amang'ana go Lulimi lwo Lulogooli (part1, part2, part3, part4, part5) [02 November 2009].

L.L. Appleby’s 1943 Luluhya-English Vocabulary and the Friends Africa Mission Press 1940 Luragoli-English Vocabulary [10 March 2009].

Bukusu and Wanga dictionary materials [01 September 2008].

Handwritten materials on Idakho (x2), Isukha, Kabarasi, Khayo (x2), Kisa, Logoori (x2), Nyala-West, Nyore, Saamia, Tachoni, Tiriki (x2), Tsotso, and Tura [available here: Luyia Dictionary Project, 08 December 2008]. 

Khalaba, Kenya, July 2006

Mandovu in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya, September 2006

Boda boda driver hauling egunia across the Kenya-Uganda border. Busia, Kenya, July 2006, Photo by Moses Egesa

Circumcision candidate near Bungoma, Kenya, August 2006