Dr. Keith Snider


Keith was born in Nigeria, where his parents were missionaries with the Sudan Interior Mission. When he was still a toddler, Keith's parents returned to Canada and settled on a farm near Grande Prairie, AB. After receiving an M.A. in Linguistics (1980), Keith 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). 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). He arranges his schedule to accommodate teaching part-time at CanIL, and share his accumulated wisdom, especially in the area of tonal languages.

Keith reflects that the most fulfilling part of his involvement at CanIL has always been teaching and supervising students working on thesis research papers. Keith has taught a myriad of linguistic courses over the years, but his favourite course by far is Tone Analysis, about 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, and have lived 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

2016-Present. Pike Fellow, SIL International
2012-Present. Certified Senior Linguistics Consultant, SIL International
2009-Present. Professor of Linguistics, Canada Institute of Linguistics

Other experience

2000-2008. Associate Professor of Linguistics, Canada Institute of Linguistics
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. (2018) Tone Analysis for Field Linguists. Dallas: SIL International Publications.

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. (2014) On establishing underlying tonal contrast, Language Documentation and Conservation 8, 707-737. http://hdl.handle.net/10125/24622.

Snider, Keith. (2007) Automatic and nonautomatic downstep in Chumburung: An instrumental comparison, The Journal of West African Languages 34.1, 105-114.

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 Languages 20.1, 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.

Co-authored Refereed Journal Articles

Roberts, Dave, Stephen Walters & Keith Snider. (2016) Neither deep nor shallow: a classroom experiment testing the orthographic depth of tone marking in Kabiye (Togo). Language and Speech 59.1, 113-28. DOI: 1177/0023830915580387.

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).

Articles in Edited Books

Snider, Keith. (2019) Long and short vowels in Chumburung: An instrumental comparison. In Akumbu, Pius W. & Chie, Esther P. (eds.), Engagement with Africa: Linguistic essays in honour of Ngessimo M. Mutaka, 249-264. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.

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. (2013) Orthography. In Carole A. Chapelle (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, Vol. VII Mu-Pr, 4330-4337. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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. (2018) Review of Laura J. Downing and Annie Rialland (eds.), Intonation in African tone languages. Lingua 204, 16-20.

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.

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