Edgar Suter

I was initiated into linguistics by Professor Meinrad Scheller, the founder of the Department of General Linguistics of the University of Zurich. In a seminar, he presented me with a grammar of Kâte, asking me to talk about that language, and I have been hooked on Papuan languages ever since. After graduation I did fieldwork on the Huon Peninsula in northeastern Papua New Guinea under the auspices of the Department of Linguistics of the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies of the Australian National University, notably Professor Andrew Pawley. I studied the syntax, lexicology, and discourse structure of Kâte. Then I left academia to participate in real life. After a hiatus my interest in linguistics resurged. I started studying the word lists and inflectional paradigms of languages related to Kâte that I had collected in the field and decided to turn to historical linguistics. I was fortunate to get the support of Kenneth McElhanon, who had collected a vast amount of lexical and grammatical data on Huon Peninsula languages. Eventually, I wrote a dissertation on the morphological history of the Huon Peninsula languages, supervised by Professor Nikolaus Himmelmann at the University of Cologne. Now I am working on two projects. I continue to explore the history of the Huon Peninsula languages, working on etymology, comparative phonology, comparative syntax, and language contact. Furthermore, I joined Timothy Usher as co-editor of Newguineaworld, a website devoted to the classification of the Papuan languages. We use the comparative method to discover and establish hitherto unknown language families across New Guinea and the adjacent islands. I am also one of the co-editors of TILP, a series of text collections in Papuan and Austronesian languages of the Pacific published by the journal Language and Linguistics in Melanesia.


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