Toshiya TANAKAʼs Homepage


Toshiya TANAKA
Department of English
Factulty of Languages and Cultures
Kyushu University

744 Moto’oka
Nishi-ku, Fukuoka
819-0395 Japan

e-mail  toshiyat[at]


Academic Background:
BA in English Linguistics, Faculty of Letters, Nagoya University, March 1984
MA in English Linguistics, Graduate School of Letters, Nagoya University, March 1986
Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Kagoshima University, April 1988 – September 1990
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Kagoshima University, October 1990 – March 1991
Associate Professor, Institute of Languages and Cultures, Kyushu University, April 1991 – March 2000

Associate Professor, Faculty of Languages and Cultures, Kyushu University, April 2000 – December 2010
PhD in Linguistics and English Language, Faculty of Humanities, the University of Manchester, April 2005

Professor, Faculty of Languages and Cultures, Kyushu University, January 2011 – present


As a historical linguist, I am interested not only in the documented history of the English language (i.e. ca. 700 to this day) but also in the historical and comparative study of Old English grammar, especially of the Old English or Proto-Germanic verbal system. In order to handle a wide variety of issues as to how the OE or PGmc. verbal system grew out of the counterpart of the parent language, I employ comparative Germanic and comparative Indo-European linguistics theories which have evolved through ample and profound knowledge of Gmc. and other IE languages accumulated during these 200 years or more.

Comparative linguistics is based on solid sound laws, and comparative Germanic linguistics in particular is founded on those famous regular sound changes represented by Grimm’s and Verner’s laws. The view has been widely accepted from the beginning of the 21st century onwards that the PIE (Proto-Indo-European) phonological system contained three distinct fricative phonemes called ‘laryngeals’, namely, *h1, *h2, and *h3, whereas this conception, generally called the ‘laryngeal theory’, had been controversial throughout the 20th century. In other words, only *s used to be ascribed as the single fricative phoneme to the set of the PIE sounds, even after Ferdinand de Saussure (1879) Mémoires sur le système primitif des voyelles dans les langues indo-européennes had brought forward a seminal idea, refined into the later ‘laryngeal theory’, in the name of coefficients sonantiques instead of the appellation of ‘laryngeals’, though under his coefficients were subsumed six other ‘sonants’ (i.e. i, u, r, l, m, and n) as well. Since the laryngeal theory got taken as read, new sound laws indispensable for up-to-date investigation have been discovered and the formulation of PIE vowel gradation (or ablaut) traceable in various types of IE inflection and word formation has been simplified and/or generalized to a larger extent.

On the other hand, the PIE grammar conventionally reconstructed on the strength of the primarily Greco-Aryan evidence might be revised to some degree by, say, the Tocharo-Anatolian data whose studies have progressed markedly since the excavation and decipherment of those languages early in the 20th century. It is expected that the present century will see new elucidation of numerous problems about IE languages which have so far remained unsettled.

My monograph published in 2011 (based on my PhD thesis submitted to the University of Manchester in 2005) attempts to give a new explanatory account of how the OE and PGmc. preterite-present verbs developed from the PIE verbal system. This book has so far been reviewed by three influential scholars in internationally prestigious historical linguistics journals and has also been mentioned in several internationally important works (cf.

One of my current challenges is to try to disclose and/or reconstitute the historical processes through which the seven classes of the OE and PGmc. strong verbs were created from the post-PIE verbal system. I am hoping that the application or non-application of Verner’s law, unambiguously discernible in Gmc. strong verb formations, will afford a substantial clue to explicate the origin and development of the PGmc. strong verb system that can be subdivided into the seven classes.


Regarding education, I have long been engaged in EFL (English as a foreign language) at Kyushu University. In cooperation with my colleagues at the FLC (Faculty of Languages and Cultures), I submitted my manuscripts to and compiled several important teaching materials for the good of students at Kyushu University (cf.


I also contributed to publication of several dictionaries through Sanseido, Kenkyusha, and Shogakukan, Tokyo (cf.


Major publications in the field of historical linguistics:

“Semantic Changes of CAN and MAY: Differentiation and Implication”, Linguistics 28/1 (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter), pp. 89-123. 1990.

“Characteristics of Ability-Signifying Verbs in Earlier English and Other Languages: A Synchronic and Diachronic Investigation”, Linguistics 29/3, (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter) pp. 361-396. 1991

“English WIT and Related Verbs: A Semantic Quality”, in Nakano, H. et al. (eds.), Structural and Historical Studies on Languages (Tokyo: Eichosha), pp. 403-416. 1991.

“Mental Representations in Developing Modals: A Cross-Linguistic and Cross-Cultural Review”, in J. Altarriba (ed.), Cognition and Culture: A Cross-Cultural Approach to Cognitive Psychology (Advances in Psychology 103. Amsterdam: North-Holland), pp. 77-94. 1993.

“Old English MAGAN and Related Verbs: Further Evidence for a Hyperlexical Approach”, in M. Amano et al. (eds.) Inquiries into the Depth of Language (Tokyo: Eichosha), pp. 489-506, 1996.

“Gmc. Preterite-Presents and IE Nouns of Agency: A Test for the Original Stativity”, Masachiyo Amano, Toshiya Tanaka, Masayuki Ohkado, Miho Nishio, Makoto Kondo, Tomoyuki Tanaka (eds.) Synchronic and Diachronic Studies on Language: A Festschrift for Dr. Hirozo Nakano (Linguistics and Philology 19), Dept. of English Linguistics, Nagoya University, pp.291-305, 2000.

“Prosodic Features of Old English Preterite-Present Verbs: Evidence from Beowulf”, Studies in English Language and Literature (FLC, Kyushu University) 51, pp.1-26, January 2001.

“The Origin and Development of the *es- vs. *wes- Suppletion in the Germanic Copula: From a Non-Brugmannian Standpoint” North-Western European Language Evolution (Odense: Odense University Press) 40, pp.3-27, April 2002.

A New Historical and Comparative Approach to Old English Preterite-Present Verbs, A PhD Thesis, the Department of Linguistics and English Language, the Faculty of Humanities, the University of Manchester, 250 pages, March 2005 [the Supervisor having been Professor Richard M. Hogg, the Internal Examiner Professor Martin Durrell, Manchester, and the External Examiner Dr. John Penney, Oxford].

“Old English ǣt ‘ate’ and the Preterite Plural Formation of the Strong Class V Verbs”, Studies in English Language and Literature (FLC, Kyushu University) 56, pp.13-22, February 2006.

 The Genesis of Preterite-Present Verbs: the Proto-Indo-European Stative-Intransitive System and Morphological Conflation (Languages and Cultures Series XIX), x + 246 pages.  Fukuoka: Faculty of Languages and Cultures, Kyushu University. ISSN: 1348-1800, not for sale. March 2009.

“The Proto-Germanic Third Person Plural Strong Preterite and the Proto-Indo-European ‘Type I’ Thematic Present Formations: With Special Reference to the Strong IV and V Classes”, Linguistic Science (FLC, Kyushu University) 44, pp.1-23.  March 2009.

“Osthoff’s Law and the Rise of the Strong I-III Preterite Plural Formations in Proto-Germanic”, Studies in Languages and Cultures (FLC, Kyushu University) 25, pp.7-21.  March 2010.

A Morphological Conflation Approach to the Historical Development of Preterite-Present Verbs: Old English, Proto-Germanic, and Proto-Indo-European (The Faculty of Languages and Cultures Library II), xiii + 320 pages. Fukuoka: Hana Shoin. ISBN: 978-4-903554-91-4, ¥4,700. March 2011.

“Remarks on Two Morphophonological Differences Between Strong and Preterite-Present Verbs in Germanic”, Studies in English Language and Literature (FLC, Kyushu University) 65, pp.13-22. March 2015.

(For more details, see


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