Johanna Nichols, Professor Emerita of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Affiliate Professor Emerita of Linguistics, Professor of the Graduate School


Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley (Linguistics).

Professor Nichols has retired but remains actively involved in teaching and mentoring graduate students.

Teaching: All aspects of Slavic linguistics; historical linguistics, typology, languages of the Caucasus, languages and peoples of Eurasia.

Research interests: Slavic historical linguistics, Slavic morphosyntax. Historical linguistics; typology; linguistic geography and areal linguistics; computational phylogeny. Languages of the Caucasus; languages of the Eurasian steppe.

Current projects: : Transitivity, reflexivization, and aspect in Slavic. Prefixation and valence in Slavic languages. Slavic phylogeny and the spread of late Proto-Slavic. Chechen and Ingush fieldwork (grammar, text collections); Nakh-Daghestanian reconstruction. Language spreads. Books in progress: Languages of the Caucasus; Language Spreads (with Richard Rhodes).

Selected publications:


  • Ingush Grammar. University of California Publications in Linguistics. Late summer 2011.
  • Chechen-English and English-Chechen Dictionary. London: Routledge, 2004.
  • Ingush-English and English-Ingush Dictionary. London: Routledge, 2004.
  • Linguistic Diversity in Space and Time. University of Chicago Press, 1992.
  • Predicate Nominals: A Partial Surface Syntax of Russian. University of California Publications in Linguistics, 1981.


  • The evolution of Slavic. Matthias Fritz and Jared Klein, eds., Comparative Indo-European Linguistics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, in press.
  • Forerunners to globalization: The Eurasian steppe and its periphery. Cornelius Hasselblatt, Peter Houtzagers, and Remco van Pareren, eds., Language Contact in Times of Globalization, 177-195. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011.
  • Indeterminate motion verbs are denominal. New Approaches to Slavic Verbs of Motion, eds. Viktoria Hasko and Renee Perelmutter, 47-65. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2010.
  • Proving Dene-Yeniseian genealogical relatedness. James Kari and Ben A. Potter, eds., The Dene-Yeniseian Connection. Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska Vol. 5 (New Series):1-2.299-309, 2010.
  • Linguistic complexity: A comprehensive definition and survey. Geoffrey Sampson, ed., Language Complexity as an Evolving Variable, 110-125. Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Gabriela Caballero, Michael J. Houser, Nicole Marcus, Teresa McFarland, Anne Pycha, Maziar Toosarvandani, Suzanne Wilhite, Johanna Nichols. Nonsyntactic ordering effects in noun incorporation. Linguistic Typology 12:3.383-421 (2008)
  • Language spread rates as indicators of glacial-age peopling of the Americas. Current Anthropology 49:6.1109-1117 plus supporting online material (2008).
  • A typological geography for Proto-Indo-European. In Karlene Jones-Bley, Martin E. Huld, Angela Della Volpe, and Miriam Robbins Dexter, eds., Proceedings of the 18th Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference, 191-211. Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of Man (2007)