Kenneth E. Naylor Professorship

The Kenneth E. Naylor Professorship of South Slavic Linguistics was established on November 5, 1993 in the College of Humanities (now part of the College of Arts and Sciences) through gifts to The Ohio State University from the estate of Professor Naylor. The professorship is a five-year renewable appointment, dedicated to preserving and continuing the scholarly legacy of Dr. Naylor.

Professor Brian D. Joseph, a preeminent Balkan and Greek scholar, historical linguist, and Indo-Europeanist, and a colleague of the late Dr. Naylor, has the distinguished honor of being the first and present Kenneth E. Naylor Professor.

The Life and Legacy of Prof. Kenneth E. Naylor, Jr.

Naylor Lecture Picture

Professor Kenneth E. Naylor received his bachelor's degree in French linguistics from Cornell University and his master's degree in linguistics from Indiana University. At Indiana, he began to study Slavic with Professor Edward Stankiewicz, and when Professor Stankiewicz moved to the University of Chicago, Kenneth Naylor went with him. There he received his doctorate in Russian and South Slavic linguistics in 1966.

Dr. Naylor was an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh from 1964 to 1966, when he joined the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Literatures at The Ohio State University. At the time of his death, Professor Naylor was the Acting Director of OSU's Center for Slavic and East European Studies.

Professor Naylor was the recipient of numerous awards, grants and fellowships, including ones from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Fulbright program, and the countries of Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, which awarded him medals of honor (the Jubilee Medal and the Order of the Yugoslav Flag with Golden Wreath, respectively). In 1990, he testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on ethnic rivalry in Yugoslavia and the development of the Serbo-Croatian language.

Professor Naylor's research centered on Serbo-Croatian and on South Slavic linguistics in general, and the overwhelming majority of the seventy articles that he authored are on these topics. He also served as editor of several journals. His dedication and many accomplishments live on in his work and in the love of the field he instilled in his students.

The Naylor Professor

Professor Brian D. Joseph earned his bachelor's degree in linguistics from Yale University and his master's degree and doctorate in linguistics from Harvard University. He joined Ohio State's faculty in the Department of Linguistics in 1979 and joined the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Literatures in 1997 when he was appointed as the first Kenneth E. Naylor Professor of South Slavic Linguistics.

Khia Naylor, Myrtle Naylor, and Brian Joseph at the 2010 Naylor Lecture reception

Professor Joseph has given more than 60 research presentations as an invited speaker and hundreds more by competitive review, authored or co-authored five books and more than 200 articles and book chapters, co-edited twelve books, and edited or co-edited nine journal issues. He has served as editor or member of the editorial board of several journals, including seven years as the editor of Language, generally considered to be the most prestigious journal in the field of linguistics. He has served as a visiting professor at several other universities, and has directed or co-directed six undergraduate honors theses and over 30 Ph.D.s to completion.

Among his numerous awards and recognitions, in 2003 Ohio State University awarded Professor Joseph the title of Distinguished University Professor, the highest honor that the university gives to faculty, in recognition of his accomplishments in research, scholarly work, teaching, and service. Professor Joseph was awarded an honorary doctorate by La Trobe University (Australia) in 2006, and by the University of Patras (Greece) in 2008. He has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Professor Joseph's primary scholarly interest is in historical linguistics, with an emphasis on the latter history of Greek. This has led him to study Greek in relation to its neighboring languages in the Balkans, including the South Slavic languages. His work on the Balkan Sprachbund explores the effects of years of language contact and bilingualism which have led to converging linguistic developments in the languages of the area. This area of research wasone in which Professor Naylor was also deeply interested. Professor Joseph is currently working with Professor Victor Friedman (University of Chicago) on a book on the Balkan languages for Cambridge University Press.

The Naylor Lecture Series

Victor Friedman (the first Naylor lecturer), with Myrtle Naylor and Khia Naylor

As part of the Naylor Professorship, Professor Joseph has established an annual Lecture on South Slavic Linguistics in Kenneth Naylor's memory that brings leading scholars in the field to OSU each spring to give a public lecture and to speak in Professor Joseph's South Slavic and Balkan classes. Each lecture is subsequently published as a monograph article in the Naylor Lecture Series.


  • Victor A. Friedman (University of Chicago), "Linguistic emblems and emblematic languages: On language as flag in the Balkans", 1998. Download the lecture brochure
  • Ronelle Alexander (University of California, Berkeley), "In honor of diversity: The linguistic resources of the Balkans", 1999 . Download the lecture brochure
  • Wayles Browne (Cornell University), "What is a standard language good for, and who gets to have one?", 2000. Download the lecture brochure
  • Howard I. Aronson (University of Chicago), "The Balkan linguistic league, 'orientalism', and linguistic typology", 2001. Download the lecture brochure

    Christina Kramer, Naylor lecturer in 2002

  • Christina E. Kramer (University of Toronto), "Minority language rights in prim ary education: A century of change in the Balkans", 2002. Download the lecture brochure
  • Zuzanna Topolinska (Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences (MANU)), "The anthropocentric case theory: How is many realized in the discourse", 2003. Download the lecture brochure
  • Ilse Lehiste (Ohio State University), "The structure of the deseterac -- the metre of Serbian epic poetry", 2004. Download the lecture brochure
  • Grace E. Fielder (University of Arizona), "Discourse markers as Balkanisms", 2005. Download the lecture brochure

    Catherine Rudin giving the Naylor Lecture in 2012






The Naylor Professorship endowment fund accepts financial contributions, which are used to support the work of the Kenneth E. Naylor Professor of South Slavic Linguistics, a distinguished teacher, researcher, and scholar in South Slavic studies. Give to this fund.

Nine of the first ten Naylor lecturers