Faculty Profile: Samuel Akinbo

Samuel Akinbo

Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics

Samuel Akinbo.

Samuel Akinbo is an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics and is a community-based researcher with an interest in phonological description, analysis, and theory, specifically focusing on the syntax-phonology interface and phonetics. Akinbo earned his PhD from the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Professor Douglas Pulleyblank and has deep experience doing community-based research on endangered and under-resourced African languages.

Akinbo’s approach to linguistic research involves considering language-external evidence for linguistic theory. Consequently, his research also delves into language-music connections (e.g., talking drums) and language-based cultural aesthetics. Alongside phonological description and analysis of understudied languages, Akinbo’s research employs newer instrumental methods (e.g., ultrasound tongue imaging), statistical models, and data visualization techniques to investigate details about phonetic properties of sounds that were not possible to capture through older impressionistic observation methods.

His research on language and language-based cultural aesthetics is unified through investigation of non-arbitrary sound-meaning mapping, considering that sound-meaning mapping is an obligatory aspect of spoken language but an optional aspect of music. Akinbo’s recent publications on Fungwa shows that the expression of magnitude involves imitating the structure of real-world entity and event with linguistic structures (Akinbo 2021a, 2023). As language-external evidence for imitation and sound-meaning mapping, his research on the talking drum shows that African musicians can communicate via music instruments by imitating phonological elements with music melody (Akinbo 2021b). This musico-linguistic practice, as shown in more recent study (Akinbo 2023), influences how native speakers of certain languages interact with music.

View Samuel Akinbo’s departmental profile