Dr. Keith Snider

Dr. Keith Snider

Professor of Linguistics

D.Litt. African Linguistics, Leiden University; M.A. Linguistics University of Texas at Arlington; B.Th., Canadian Bible College; Dipl. Millar Memorial Bible Institute.

Keith was born in Nigeria, where his parents were missionaries with the Sudan Interior Mission. When he was still a toddler, his parents returned to Canada, settling on a farm near Grande Prairie, AB in Canada. After receiving a M.A. in Linguistics (1980), he moved to Ghana with his wife Ruth. Together they worked with the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy, and Bible Translation on the Chumburung Bible translation project (1982-87). Later, after completing a doctoral program (1990), Keith served as the Linguistics Coordinator for the Cameroon Branch of SIL (1993-1999), as well as an International Linguistics Consultant with SIL International (1995-2011).

From the early 1990s, Keith and Ruth would come and teach at CanIL for some of their summer programs. But, in 2000, Keith came to teach full time at CanIL and take on an administrative position (2000-2010). Currently, Keith is a Senior Linguistics Consultant with SIL International (2012-present), but he arranges his schedule to be able to teach part-time at CanIL since 2010 and share his accumulated wisdom, especially in the area of working with tonal languages.

Keith reflects that the most fulfilling part of his involvement at CanIL has always been teaching and supervising students working on theses research papers. Keith has taught a myriad of linguistic courses over the years, but his favourite course by far is Tone Analysis, which, he says, “I hope to continue teaching until my health fails or they tell me I’m too senile!”

Interesting facts: Keith and his wife Ruth are widely travelled, living in the following countries for more than 6 months: Nigeria, Ghana, The Netherlands, Cameroon, Ethiopia, U.S.A., and of course, Canada. While Keith is familiar with many languages, he modestly asserts to be proficient only in English and French.


1990. Doctor of Letters in African Linguistics, University of Leiden
1980. Master of Arts in Linguistics, University of Texas at Arlington
1978. Bachelor of Theology (with honors), Canadian Bible College
1974. Diploma, Millar Memorial Bible Institute

Current position

1995-Present. International Linguistics Consultant, SIL
2000-Present. Professor of Linguistics, Canada Institute of Linguistics

Other experience

1999 (Spring). Instructor, University of Yaoundé
1993-1999. Linguistics Coordinator and linguistics consultant, SIL Cameroon.
1991, 1996. Instructor, Canada SIL, Trinity Western University
1988 (Spring). Instructor, University of Leiden

1985-1987. Linguistics Coordinator, Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation, Ghana.

1982-1987. Field researcher/translator/literacy coordinator, Chumburung Language Project, SIL and Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation, Ghana (Chumburung New Testament published in 1989)

Research interests

African linguistics
Tone analysis
Phonetics of tone, particularly as it impinges on phonological theory


Books Authored and Edited

Snider, Keith (1999) The Geometry and Features of Tone. Dallas: The Summer Institute of Linguistics and The University of Texas at Arlington.

Snider, Keith (1989) North Guang Comparative Wordlist: Chumburung, Krachi, Nawuri, Gichode and Gonja. Comparative African Wordlists 4. Legon: Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana.

Van der Hulst, Harry and Keith Snider, eds. (1993) The Representation of Tonal Register. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Refereed Journal Articles

Snider, Keith and James Roberts (2004) SIL comparative African word list (SILCAWL). The Journal of West African Languages 31.2, 73-122. (Also published in 2006 on the web at http://www.sil.org/resources/publications/entry/1990).

Snider, Keith (1999) Tonal “upstep” in Engenni, The Journal of West African Languages 27, 3-15.
Snider, Keith (1998) Phonetic realisation of downstep in Bimoba, Phonology 15.1, 77-101.
Snider, Keith (1992) “Grammatical tone” and orthography, Notes on Literacy 18.4, 25-30.
Snider, Keith (1990a) Tonal upstep in Krachi: Evidence for a register tier, Language 66.3, 453-74.
Snider, Keith (1990b) Tone in proto-Guang nouns, African Languages and Culture 3.1, 87-105.
Snider, Keith (1990c) The consonants of proto-Guang, Journal of West African Languages20.1, 3-26.
Snider, Keith (1989a) Vowel coalescence in Chumburung: An autosegmental analysis,Lingua 78, 217-32.
Snider, Keith (1989b) The vowels of proto-Guang, Journal of West African Languages 19.2, 29-50.

Snider, Keith (1988) The noun class system of proto-Guang and its implications for internal classification, Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 10.2, 137-63.

Snider, Keith (1986) Apocope, tone and the glottal stop in Chumburung, Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 8.2, 133-44.

Snider, Keith (1985) Vowel coalescence across word boundaries in Chumburung. Journal of West African Languages 15.1, 3-13.

Snider, Keith (1984) Vowel harmony and the consonant l in Chumburung, Studies in African Linguistics 15.1, 47-57.

Articles in Edited Books

Snider, Keith. 2014. “Orthography and Phonological Depth.” In Michael Cahill and Keren Rice (eds.). Developing Orthographies for Unwritten Languages, 27-48. Dallas: SIL International.

Snider, Keith. 2001. Linguistic factors in orthography design. In Ngessimo M. Mutaka and Sammy B. Chumbow (eds.), Research mate in African linguistics: Focus on Cameroon, 323-322. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.

Snider, Keith (1988) Towards the representation of tone: A three dimensional approach. In Harry van der Hulst and Norval Smith (eds.), Features, Segmental Structure and Harmony Processes, Vol. 1, 237-69. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.

Snider, Keith and Harry van der Hulst (1993) Issues in the representation of tonal register. In Harry van der Hulst and Keith Snider (eds.), The Representation of Tonal Register. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Book Reviews

Snider, Keith (2004) Review of Jean Blanchon and Denis Creissels (eds.), Issues in Bantu tonology. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 25.1, 102-106.

Snider, Keith (2003) Review of Larry M. Hyman and Charles W. Kisseberth (eds.), Theoretical aspects of Bantu tone. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 24.1, 99-103.

Snider, Keith (2000) Review of D. Robert Ladd, Intonational phonology. Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 79. Notes on Linguistics 3.3, 166-168.

Snider, Keith (1997) Review of Francis Katamba (ed.), Bantu phonology and morphology. LINCOM Studies in African Linguistics 6. Notes on Linguistics 79, 50-53.

Snider, Keith (1989) Review of Mary Kropp-Dakubu (ed.), The languages of Ghana. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 11.1, 98-103.

Snider, Keith (1981) Review of Wallace Chafe (ed.), The pear stories. Notes on Linguistics 17, 47-48.

Works in Progress

Tone Analysis for Field Linguists. Book manuscript.

Software Development

Snider, Keith and Larry Hayashi. ComparaLex. A web-based research database tool for comparative linguists. http://comparalex.canil.ca/


LING-LIN 688 Tone Analysis


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