- Distinguished Professor (2022)
Samuel Gyasi Obeng received his B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Ghana in 1981, his D. Phil. in Language and Linguistic Science from the University of York in 1988, and completed postdoctoral training as a Research Scholar in Linguistics at University of California Los Angeles in 1993. He has held previous international academic appointments at Advanced Teacher Training College (now the University of Education) in Ghana, Ghana Institute of Journalism, Alliance Françoise, University of Ghana, and has held an Adjunct Professorship at the University of the Cape Coast in Ghana since 2014. Obeng joined Indiana University as Assistant Professor in 1994, received tenure and advanced to Associate Professor in 2000, and Professor in 2006. He has served as the Director of the West Africa Languages Institute since 2018.
With an impressive breadth and depth of research, Obeng has become the principal authority of African pragmatics and the sociology of language. His work is comprehensive and weaves together over 30 African languages, with special emphasis on the Kwa languages of the Niger-Congo phylum (such as Akan) and other languages spoken in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. To summarize the range of specialties, he is considered a pioneer in research on “voiceprints” in conversational interactions, the expression of “liberty” through language, the cultural and linguistic richness of “anthroponymy”, verbal “indirectness” in conversation, and the application of “economic principles'' to study of pidgin and creole language development. Namely, Obeng’s books Language in African Social Interaction: Indirectness in Akan Communication (2003) and Conflict Resolution in Africa: Language, Law, and Politeness in Ghanian (Akan) Jurisprudence establish his presence as the principal authority of African pragmatics and the sociology of language. Through his pioneering work, peers have gained further insights into the phonetic resources used by discourse participants in informal discourses as well as in institutional settings (turn-taking, repair, overlapping talk, and backchannel communications).
Obeng has written 33 books and edited volumes, 55 refereed journal articles, 30 chapters in refereed edited books, 20 creative writing articles, and 17 book and article reviews. He currently has 4 journal articles and book chapters, 17 essays, and 2 creative works in progress. Obeng was a two-time Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow at University of Ghana and Distinguished Research Scholar at University of Maryland. He is regularly called to be a keynote speaker and external examiner. Obeng has served as primary investigator for multiple U.S. Department of Education Title VI grants. Overall, he has received over $3.5 million in external funding. He is a current member of 11 associations and societies focused on linguistics and African studies.