Thomas Olander

Thomas Olander

Associate Professor - Promotion Programme

Member of:

I study the Indo-European languages and their prehistory. I have mostly published on the Slavic languages, including their relationship to the Baltic languages, but I am interested in all the Indo-European language branches (Italic, Germanic, Greek, Indo-Iranian etc.), with the overarching aim of reconstructing the proto-language from which all Indo-European languages descend.

Currently my main research focus is on the Indo-European family tree, i.e. the relationship between the Indo-European language branches: is Germanic (e.g. Danish, German and English), for instance, more closely related to the Italic languages (Latin and its daughters) than to Slavic (e.g. Russian)?

This type of questions is crucial to the Indo-European homeland problem, i.e. the question of where and when Proto-Indo-European was spoken, and how it spread throughout Europe and western Asia.

I am also interested in Danish phonology, morphology and syntax and in the historical grammar of Danish.

Primary fields of research

  • comparative Indo-European linguistics
  • reconstruction of the Indo-European proto-language
  • the relationship between the Indo-European branches
  • the Indo-European homeland
  • historical grammar of Slavic
  • historical grammar of Baltic and Balto-Slavic
  • historical grammar of other Indo-European languages

Current research

I am the leader of the research project Connecting the Dots: Reconfiguring the Indo-European family tree (2019–2023), financed by the Independent Research Fund Denmark. The purpose of the project is to examine the relationship between the Indo-European language branches, in particular the ramification after the separation of Anatolian and Tocharian. The project also examines to what extent the linguistic family tree can be correlated with the archaeological evidence.

I am also a core member of the research project LAMP: Languages and Myths of Prehistory (2020–2025), financed by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. The project is interdisciplinary and examines the relationship between languages, material culture and myths at prehistoric stages of the Indo-European languages.

Previously I was the leader of the cross-disciplinary research project The homeland: In the footprints of the early Indo-Europeans (2015–2018), financed by the Carlsberg Foundation. The project aims at establishing where and when the earliest stages of the Indo-European language branches where spoken, thus pinning down where and when the Indo-European proto-language was spoken.

In 2015 I published a monograph on the development of the inflexional system from Proto-Indo-European to Slavic (Proto-Slavic inflectional morphology).


I teach various Indo-European disciplines, including the historical grammar of specific Indo-European languages and Indo-European morphology.

Within the field of Danish language I have taught Danish phonetics, morphology, syntax and historical grammar

I have also taught Bulgarian language.

Selected publications

  1. Published

    The Indo-European language family: A phylogenetic perspective

    Olander, Thomas (ed.), 2022, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 297 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportAnthologyResearchpeer-review

  2. Published


    Olander, Thomas, 2022, The Indo-European language family: A phylogenetic perspective. Olander, T. (ed.). Cambridge (UK): Cambridge University Press, p. 1–17

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

  3. Published

    Tracing the Indo-Europeans: New evidence from archaeology and historical linguistics

    Rasmussen (Olsen), Birgit Anette (ed.), Olander, Thomas (ed.) & Kristiansen, K. (ed.), 2019, Oxford: Oxbow Books. 184 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportAnthologyResearch

  4. Published

    The Indo-European homeland: Introducing the problem

    Olander, Thomas, 2019, Tracing the Indo-Europeans: New evidence from archaeology and historical linguistics. Olsen, B. A., Olander, T. & Kristiansen, K. (eds.). Oxford: Oxbow Books, p. 7–34

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearch

  5. Published

    Proto-Slavic inflectional morphology : a comparative handbook

    Olander, Thomas, 2015, Leiden / Boston: Brill. 439 p. (Brill's Studies in Indo-European Languages & Linguistics, Vol. 14).

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

  6. Published

    Balto-Slavic accentual mobility

    Olander, Thomas, 2009, Berlin / New York: Mouton de Gruyter. (Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs, Vol. 199).

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

  7. Published

    Connecting the dots: The Indo-European family tree as a heuristic device

    Olander, Thomas, 2018, Proceedings of the 29th UCLA Indo-European conference. Goldstein, D., Jamison, S. & Vine, B. (eds.). Bremen: Hempen Verlag, p. 181–202 21 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

  8. Published

    Proto-Indo-European *-os in Slavic

    Olander, Thomas, 2012, In: Russian Linguistics. 36, 3, p. 319-341 23 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  9. Published

    Proto-Indo-European final nasals in Slavic

    Olander, Thomas, 2010, In: Scando-Slavica. 56, 1, p. 84-98 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  10. Published
  11. Published

    Language and Prehistory of the Indo-European Peoples: A Cross-Disciplinary Perspective

    Hyllested, Adam (ed.), Whitehead, Benedicte Nielsen (ed.), Olander, Thomas (ed.) & Rasmussen (Olsen), Birgit Anette (ed.), 2017, Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum. 343 p. (Copenhagen Studies in Indo-European, Vol. 7).

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

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