Robert Blust

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Robert Blust
Born Robert Andrew Blust

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Residence Honolulu, Hawaii
Nationality American
Education PhD in linguistics (1974), University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
Occupation Historical linguistics, lexicography and ethnology
Employer University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
Title Professor of Linguistics;
Review editor for the journal Oceanic Linguistics
Spouse(s) Laura Chang-Blust

Robert A. Blust (born 1940, Chinese: 白樂思; pinyin: Bái Lèsī) is a prominent linguist in several areas, including historical linguistics, lexicography and ethnology. Blust specializes in the Austronesian languages and has made major contributions to the field of Austronesian linguistics.


Robert Blust was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and raised in California. He received a B.A. in anthropology and a PhD in linguistics from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa in 1974. Currently, he is a professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and served as the department chair from 2005 to 2008.

Austronesian Languages

He also serves as the review editor for the Oceanic Linguistics, an academic journal that covers the Austronesian languages. Blust is best known for his work on Austronesian languages, including a large Austronesian comparative dictionary (Blust 1995c) and a Thao-English dictionary (Blust 2003b). Another one of his well-known works is a 2009 work called The Austronesian Languages, which is the first single-authored book to cover all aspects (phonology, syntax, morphology, sound changes, classification, etc.) of the Austronesian language family in its entirety.

Field work

Blust has done field work on 97 Austronesian languages spoken in locations such as Sarawak, Papua New Guinea, and Taiwan. In Taiwan, he has performed field work on Formosan languages such as Thao, Kavalan, Pazeh, Amis, Paiwan and Saisiyat. His dictionary of the highly endangered Thao language is currently the most complete of any Formosan language dictionary, containing over 1,100 pages. Blust also has an abiding interest in both linguistic and cultural aspects of rainbows and dragons.

Selected publications

  • Blust, Robert. 1974. The Proto-North-Sarawak vowel deletion hypothesis. PhD dissertation. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
  • Blust, Robert. 1977. The Proto-Austronesian pronouns and Austronesian subgrouping: a preliminary report. University of Hawai‘i Working Papers in Linguistics 9.2: 1–15.
  • Blust, Robert. 1988. Austronesian Root Theory: An Essay on the Limits of Morphology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Blust, Robert. 1993. *S metathesis and the Formosan/Malayo-Polynesian language boundary. In Oyvind Dahl, ed., Language — a doorway between human cultures: tributes to Dr. Otto Chr. Dahl on his ninetieth birthday, 178–183. Oslo, Novus.
  • Blust, Robert. 1995a. The position of the Formosan languages: method and theory in Austronesian comparative linguistics. In Paul Jen-kuei Li et al., eds., Austronesian Studies Relating to Taiwan: 585—650. Symposium Series of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, No. 3. Taipei: Academia Sinica.
  • Blust, Robert. 1995b. Austronesian Comparative Dictionary (ACD). Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
  • Blust, Robert. 1996. Some remarks on the linguistic position of Thao. Oceanic Linguistics 35: 272–294.
  • Blust, Robert. 1999. Pazeh phonology and morphology. Oceanic Linguistics 38.2: 321–365.
  • Blust, Robert. 2003a. Three notes on early Austronesian morphology. Oceanic Linguistics, 42.2: 438–478.
  • Blust, Robert. 2003b. Thao dictionary[1]. Language and Linguistics Monograph Series, No. A5. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics (Preparatory Office), Academia Sinica.ISBN 978-957-01-4785-8
  • Blust, Robert. 2003c. A short morphology, phonology and vocabulary of Kiput, Sarawak. Shorter Grammars. Pacific Linguistics 546. Canberra: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University.
  • Blust, Robert. 2005. Must sound change be linguistically motivated? Diachronica 22: 219–269.
  • Blust, Robert. 2006. The origin of the Kelabit voiced aspirates: a historical hypothesis revisited. Oceanic Linguistics 45.2: 311–338.
  • Blust, Robert. 2009. The Austronesian Languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University. ISBN 0-85883-602-5, ISBN 978-0-85883-602-0.