Bio


I taught in the Department of Linguistics from 1972 to 2006 and still teach the occasional course. Over the years, I've spent a total of five years in West Africa, including two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger, two years in research and teaching in Nigeria, and a year or research and teaching in Cote d'Ivoire.

My main research interests are in linguistic tone and intonation, the structure of English vocabulary, African linguistics, and the use of language in advertising and in brand names.

After many years of consulting for Lexicon Branding, Inc., I'm now chair emeritus of Lexicon's linguistics program.

Academic Appointments


  • Emeritus Faculty, Acad Council, Linguistics

Honors & Awards


  • Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, Stanford University (1977)
  • Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite Ivoirien, République de Côte d'Ivoire (2014)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests


Recently published:
"Introduction to the Languages of the World," 2nd ed. With Brett Kessler for Oxford University Press.
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In press:
"Tone and length in Mende," for a memorial volume for Russ Schuh.
"Tone systems" with Larry M. Hyman for "Handbook of Prosody," Oxford University Press.

Current projects:
"Advertising and the Language of Persuasion," a book for Oxford University Press based on my spring 2016-17 Stanford course

With Brett Kessler, the third edition of "English Vocabulary Elements," also for Oxford University Press..

2017-18 Courses


All Publications


  • The phonetics of downstep in Abron and Adioukrou. Revealing structure edited by Buckley, E., Crane, T., Good, J. CSLI Publications. 2017
  • The Nature(s) of Downstep SLAO/1er Colloque International Leben, W. R. Humboldt Kolleg. 2016
  • Autosegments The Blackwell companion to phonology. Leben, W. R. Blackwell. 2011
  • Phonological reflexes of emphasis in Kwa languages of Cote d'Ivoire West African Linguistics: Papers in Honor of Russell G. Schuh, Leben, W. R. Studies in African Linguistics. 2006