Thomas Olander

Thomas Olander

Associate Professor

I do research in the Indo-European languages and their relationship. I have primarily been occupied with the Slavic languages and their relations to the Baltic languages, but I am interested in all branches of Indo-European. The aim of much of my research is to contribute to the reconstruction of the proto-language from which all Indo-European languages descend, a proto-language that we have learned a good deal about through comparison of the oldest stages of the attested Indo-European languages.

At present my main research focus is on the Indo-European family tree, i.e. the relationship between the Indo-European language branches (Anatolian, Tocharian, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Greek, Armenian, Albanian, Indo-Iranian, Balto-Slavic): are Germanic languages like Danish, German and English more closely related to Romance languages like Italian, Spanish and French, or to Slavic languages like Russian, Polish and Bulgarian?

This question is of importance for the Indo-European homeland problem, i.e. the question of where and when Proto-Indo-European was spoken, and how it diverged into the branches we know today (Anatolian, Tokharian, Celtic, Germanic, Greek, Armenian, Albanian, Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic).

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 (2019–2022), 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

    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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. Published

    Indo-European accent and ablaut

    Keydana, G. (ed.), Widmer, P. (ed.) & Olander, Thomas (ed.), 2013, Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum. 195 p. (Copenhagen Studies in Indo-European, Vol. 5).

    Research output: Book/ReportAnthologyResearchpeer-review

  6. 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 chapter

  7. Published
  8. 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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