John Goldsmith

Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor. Departments of Linguistics, Computer Science and Physical Science Collegiate Division, and Humanities Collegiate Division.
Rosenwald 201B
(773) 702-3681

My current research interests lie in the history of linguistic thought, and the development of machine learning models for the inference of linguistic structure from raw textual data. I spent the academic year 2006-2007 working with Bernard Laks at the Université de Paris X (Nanterre), working on a book entitled Battle in the Mind Fields, dealing with the development of the mind sciences in the 20th century.

Since 1997, I have been working on an open-source computational linguistics project named Linguistica, whose goal is to automatically develop a morphological analysis of an unknown language from a raw sample of text, using the tools of information theory to make explicit what linguistic structure is (see

The two projects are ultimately one, because both are attempts to explicitly answer the questions: What makes a good linguistic analysis? What is the relationship between the notions of linguistic learnability and psychological learnability?

Recent Publications 

Selected publications:

  • Language and the Mind: Encounters in the Mind Fields. Volume 1: The First Four Generations. With Bernard Laks. In preparation.
  • Empiricist Approaches to Language Learning, with Nick Chater, Alex Clark, and Amy Perfors. 2015. Oxford University Press.
  • Tones and Features, co-edited with Elizabeth Hume and Leo Wetzels. 2011. Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Handbook of Phonological Theory, 2nd edition, edited with Jason Riggle and Alan Yu. 2011. Wiley Blackwell.
  • The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career: A Portable Mentor for Scholars from Graduate School through Tenure. John Goldsmith, John Komlos, and Penny Schein Gold. 2001. The University of Chicago Press.
  • Autosegmental and Metrical Phonology. 1990. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, Ltd.
  • "Generative phonology: its origins, its principles, and its successors" (with Bernard Laks). To appear in The Cambridge History of Linguistics, edited by Linda Waugh, John E. Joseph, and Monique Monville-Burston.
  • "Information theoretic approaches to phonology: the case of Finnish vowel harmony" (with Jason Riggle). Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 30(3):859-96. 2012.
  • :Segmentation and morphology." In The Handbook of Computational Linguistics and Natural Language Processing, pp. 364-393. Edited by Alex Clark, Chris Fox, and Shalom Lappin. Wiley Blackwell. 2010.
  • "Morphological analogy: Only a beginning." In James P. Blevins and Juliette Blevins (eds.), Analogy in Grammar: Form and Acquisition, pp. 137–163. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2009.
  • "Learning phonological categories" (with Aris Xanthos). Language 85(1):1–35. 2009.
  • "Generative phonology in the late 1940s." Phonology 25:1–23. 2008.
  • "Learning inflectional classes" Language Learning and Development 24(4):219-250. 2007.
  • "Unsupervised Learning of the Morphology of a Natural Language." Computational Linguistics 27:2 pp. 153-198. 2001.