​/ˈeɪ.mɒs/ in Australia, the UK

/ˈeɪ.məs/ elsewhere

linguist, language nerd, data analyst, lifelong learner & travel(l)er


My love for linguistics stems from a love of discovering patterns in how people use spoken and written language in context. I seek explanations for why such patterns exist and how they might develop over time, especially  explanations that are based in communicative function, general cognitive principles and historical development.

In general, I ask: What linguistic structures do people have at their disposal, and how do they use them for particular communicative purposes in particular pragmatic contexts? One main area of my main research looks at probabilistic case marking, in which speakers appear to have the "option" of using case markers that contain semantic and syntactic information under certain pragmatic conditions. Another key area of my research examines how speakers of tone languages use pitch for conveying both lexical and (more context-dependent) intonational information.

To answer these questions, I take an interdisciplinary approach that uses a mix of traditional linguistic field methods and quantitative methods, including experimental and corpus-based approaches. I work mainly with primary data that I have collected through fieldwork conducted in India and Nepal or through collaborations with colleagues. My publications include work in acoustic phonetics, speech perception and grammatical descriptions of aspects of under-described languages.

Sunrise over Zunheboto town in Nagaland, India



Recent and ongoing projects


What semantic and discourse pragmatic factors influence the use of probabilistic case marking of noun phrases? For my dissertation, I compiled a small spoken language corpus of Sümi consisting of short narratives, interviews and video description tasks that were recorded, transcribed, translated and tagged with Dr Salome Kinny (ICFAI). Funded by the National Science Foundation (DEL-DDRIG 1723519) [link]. With Scott DeLancey (Oregon).



How different are languages? How might we measure cross-linguistic differences along a specific grammatical feature? In this project, I use parallel text data to quantify differences in core case marking patterns across various Tibeto-Burman languages.


Differences in pitch are used to convey both lexical tone and intonation information. How might they interact in languages with simple tone systems? What consequences are there for lexical tone perception? In this project, we show how words in Yolmo and Syuba, two language varieties of Nepal, can accommodate both types of information. With Lauren Gawne (La Trobe Uni) & Melissa Baese-Berk (Oregon). [GitHub link]


Five level tones is often taken to be the maximum possible number of contrasts in a language. Tenyidie/Angami (Nagaland) has been described as having five such tones. In this project, we provide the first acoustic description of the tones, comparing productions from older and younger speakers living in Kohima. With Priyankoo Sarmah (IIT Guwahati) & Mimi Ezung (Nagaland University).

Previous projects


November 2010 - October 2012

Principal investigator, worked with the Sümi Cultural Association to document traditional agricultural songs and stories of the Sümis (Nagaland, North-East India). Funded by the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) and the Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research. Data available at Endangeed Languages Archive (ELAR) [link].


October 2012 - June 2014

Main organizer of a mother tongue literacy workshop held in Zunheboto town with the Sümi Literature Board and North-east Literacy Network to develop children's books in Sümi. Supported by the Foundation for Endangered Languages.

Other projects

- Karbi tone production and perception, with Linda Konnerth (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) [link]



Linear mixed effects models

​Cluster analysis

Decision trees & Random forests


Familiar with data visualization tools, including ggplot2 and ggmap packages in R and matplotlib in Python.


English (native)

Mandarin Chinese (near native)

French (excellent)

Russian (good)

Countries lived and worked in: Singapore, Australia, USA, France, China.

Countries I've done fieldwork in: India, Nepal




September 2013 -

June 2019

Ph.D. in Linguistics

Dissertation: "Investigating differential case marking in Sumi, a language of Nagaland, using language documentation and experimental methods"


March 2008 -

June 2010

M.A. in Linguistics

Thesis: "Sumi tone: A phonological and phonetic description of a Tibeto-Burman language of Nagaland"


March 2002 -

December 2007

B.A. (Honours)

Majors: Linguistics, Russian

Diploma of Modern Languages (French)

Honours thesis: "Breaking up is hard to do: Teasing apart morphological complexity in Iwaidja and Maung"



Public talks


"How to construct a language" at Foreign Languages and International Studies (FLIS) Day for high school students at University of Oregon . With Charlotte Vaughn. (4 May 2018; 3 May 2019)

"Vital Voices" fundraiser for GLOSS (Graduate Linguists of Oregon Student Society) (3 May 2018)

​Online presence

Guest posts on linguistics and everyday life on the UO Linguistics blog:

"Linguistics in pop culture: Arrival (film)" (28 Nov 2016)

"Linguistics in the news - Election season" (7 Nov 2016)

Consonant Aspirations blog

Selected posts:

"Issues with Ice Age Linguistics" (14 May 2013)

"Futureless languages?"  (1 Mar 2013) (about Keith Chen's study that the language you speak affects your savings behavior)



Teo, Amos. 2014. A phonological and phonetic description of Sumi, a Tibeto-Burman language of Nagaland. Canberra: Asia-Pacific Linguistics [link]

Peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings

Teo, Amos. (accepted). “Pre-modern language contact in Nagaland.” In Mark W. Post, Stephen Morey & Toni Huber (Eds.), Ethno-linguistic prehistory of the Eastern Himalaya. Brill.

Teo, Amos. 2018. “Differential A and S marking in Sumi – synchronic and diachronic considerations.” In Ilja A. Seržant & Alena Witzlack-Makarevich (Eds.), Diachrony of Differential Argument Marking (Studies in Diversity Linguistics). (pp. 381–400). Berlin: Language Science Press.

Teo, Amos. 2017. “The coding of identifiability in Mòòré.” In Doris Payne, Sara Pacchiarotti & Mokaya Bosire (Eds.), Diversity in African languages: Selected papers from the 46th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (Contemporary African Linguistics 1). (pp. 41-61). Berlin: Language Science Press.

Teo, Amos, Lauren Gawne and Melissa Baese-Berk. 2015. “A case study of tone and intonation in two Tibetic language varieties.” In The Scottish Consortium for ICPhS 2015 (Ed.), Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Glasgow, UK: The University of Glasgow.

Konnerth, Linda and Amos Teo. 2014. “Acoustic-statistical and perceptual investigations of Karbi tones: A peculiar case of incomplete neutralisation of F0.” In Gwendolyn Hyslop, Linda Konnerth, Stephen Morey & Priyankoo Sarmah (Eds.), North East Indian Linguistics, Volume 6 (pp. 13-37). Canberra: Asia Pacific Linguistics (2014).

Teo, Amos. 2012. “Illustrations of the IPA: Sumi (Sema).” Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 42(3), 365-373.

Selected conference presentations

Teo, Amos and Melissa Baese-Berk. (forthcoming). “Production and perception of focus in Sümi.” 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Melbourne, Australia. August 5, 2019.

Teo, Amos. “A corpus-based typology of case marking alignment using parallel texts from the Linguistic Survey of India.” 12th Conference for the Association of Linguistic Typology. Australian National University, Canberra. December 14, 2017.

Hildebrandt, Kristine and Amos Teo. “Tibeto-Burman tone typology in the South Asian context.” International workshop on typological profiles of language families of South Asia, Uppsala University, Uppsala, September 16, 2016.

Teo, Amos. “Typological studies of argument marking in Tibeto-Burman languages: comparing old and new methods of analysis.” Capturing Phylogenetic Algorithms for Linguistics (Workshop). Lorentz Center, Leiden. October 28, 2015.

Konnerth, Linda and Amos Teo. “Mismatch between tonal production and perception in Karbi.” [poster] 14th Conference on Laboratory Phonology. National Institute for Japanese Linguistics, Tokyo, July 27, 2014.

Columbia River Gorge just east of Portland

At the 10th North-East Indian Linguistics Society conference in Silchar, Assam



Email: amosbteo (at) gmail (dot) com

GitHub repository

Academia.edu page

Google Scholar page


Consonant Aspirations blog


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©2019 by Amos Teo.