Most cited works in Linguistics

Are these the most influential works in linguistics? These 100+ books and articles are all the works I could find on Google Scholar with at least 4000 citations as of today (January 7th, 2018; minor additions on Jan 10th and Jan 15th) and were arguably about linguistics, taken broadly. I am interested in learning about omissions. If you can find a linguistic work which is not on this list but which has been cited at least as many times, let me know. Alternatively, if you can argue that a work is more influential than these without having been cited as much, I’d be interested in hearing the arguments.

Caveats: I added up numbers for different formats of citation for Saussure, but didn’t do this for other works. I think that Google Scholar conflates elements with similar titles, for example Pustejovsky’s 1991 article and 1995 book of the same title (The Generative Lexicon) and Jackendoff’s 2002 and the 2003 précis of it in BBS. Journal titles appear in parentheses when I have noticed that an entry is a journal article (most of them are books, and a few are in collections). I have tried to enter the original date for works which have appeared in multiple editions. In my first pass, I only wrote down last names, and then when I suspected Google Scholar wasn’t displaying the original publication date, and had to look up a work, I added the first names of the authors; this is why some first names are included and some aren’t.

I have been inconsistent about including philosophers. Notable omissions: Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations (42342 citations), Kripke’s Naming and Necessity (12827), Frege’s Über Sinn und Bedeutung (8979 including English translation), Lewis’ Counterfactuals (5951) and On the Plurality of Worlds (5832); also Carnap, Tarsky, etc.

Update June 2020: I have added Biber et al 1999, with over 11,000 citations, and Biber 1988, with over 6,000. In the meantime most of the entries here have added a thousand citations or so, and I have just begun updating them. New citation numbers are followed by “2020” in parentheses. Order has not yet been adjusted to reflect changes.


Author(s) Year Title Citations
Lakoff and Johnson 1980 Metaphors we Live by 64194 (2020)
Austin, JL 1962 How to Do Things with Words 54384 (2020)
Grice 1975 Logic and conversation 39801 (2020)
Chomsky 1965 Aspects of the Theory of Syntax 37855  (2020)
Saussure 1916 Course in General Linguistics 29687
Rabiner, LR 1989 A tutorial on hidden Markov models and selected applications in speech recognition 26290
Searle 1969 Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language 25607
Halliday 1985 An Introduction to Functional Grammar 25453
Lakoff 1987 Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things 25180
Chomsky 1995 The Minimalist Program 23898
Chomsky 1981 Lectures on Government and Binding: The Pisa Lectures 21348
Brown, Penelope and Stephen Levinson 1987 Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage 21229
Chomsky 1957 Syntactic Structures 20891
Ellis, Rod 1994 The Study of Second Language Acquisition 19573
Sperber and Wilson 1986 Relevance: Communication and Cognition 18906
Brown, H. Douglas 1980 Principles of Language Learning and Teaching 17043
Stroop, JR 1935 Studies of interference in serial verbal interactions (J Exp Psych) 15906
Fairclough, Norman 1989 Language and Power 15477
Krashen, S 1987 Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition 15352
Langacker 1987 Foundations of Cognitive Grammar: Theoretical Prerequisites 15299
Quirk et al 1985 A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language 15074
Fodor 1983 The Modularity of Mind: An Essay on Faculty Psychology 14774
Chomsky and Halle 1968 The Sound Pattern of English 14162
Johnson-Laird, Philip 1983 Mental Models: Towards a Cognitive Science of Language, Inference, and Consciousness 12807
Chomsky 1986 Knowledge of Language: Its Nature, Origin, and Use 12258
Quine 1960 Word and Object 12003
Krashen, Stephen 1985 The Input Hypothesis: Issues and Implications 11901
Pinker 1994 The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language 11647
Halliday, M.A.K. 1978 Language as Social Semiotic: The Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning 11454
Brown 1973 A First Language: The Early Stages 11209
Gee, James Paul 1990 Social Linguistics and Literacies: Ideology in Discourses 11154
Fairclough, Norman 2003 Analyzing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research 10560
Lenneberg 1967 The Biological Foundations of Language 10440
Labov 1972 Sociolinguistic Patterns 10284
Krashen, Stephen 1981 Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning 10165
Brown, Gillian and George Yule 1983 Discourse Analysis 9864
Hymes, Dell H. 1972 On communicative competence 9732
Biber, Johansson, Leech, and Finegan 1999 The Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English 11298 (2020)
Fillmore 1967 The case for case 9727
Canale and Swain 1980 Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing (Applied
Jakobson 1960 Linguistics and poetics 9273
Chomsky 2001 Derivation by phase 8934
Gee, James Paul 1999 An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method 8904
Whorf 1956 Language, Thought and Reality 8677
Chomsky 2000 Minimalist Inquiries: The Framework 8608
Goldberg 1995 Constructions: A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure 8466
Fodor 1975 The Language of Thought 8465
Clark, Herbert H. 1996 Using Language 8448
O’Malley, JM and AU Chamot 1990 Learning Strategies in Second Language Acquisition 8287
Shiffrin, RM, and W Schneider 1977 Controlled and automatic human information processing II. Perceptual learning, automatic attending, and a general theory (Psych Rev) 8274
Putnam 1979 Philosophical Papers: Volume 2, Mind, Language, and Reality 8228
Labov 1972 Language in the Inner City: Studies in the Black English Vernacular 8114
Paivio, Allan 1986 Mental Representations: A Dual Coding Approach 8041
Prince and Smolensky 1993 Optimality Theory: Constraint Interaction in Generative Grammar 7994
Chomsky 1968 Language and Mind 7909
Selinker 1972 Interlanguage 7763
Sapir 1921 Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech 7587
Chomsky 1986 Barriers 7461
Nation, ISP 2001 Learning Vocabulary in Another Language 7217
Kayne 1994 The Antisymmetry of Syntax 7170
Jackendoff 1972 Semantic Interpretation in Generative Grammar 7169
Hopper and Traugott 1993 Grammaticalization 6958
Marcus et al 1993 Building a large annotated corpus of English: The Penn Treebank 6776
Hutchinson and Waters 1987 English for Specific Purposes 6764
Comrie 1976 Aspect: An Introduction to the Study of Verbal Aspect and Related Problems 6758
Halliday and Hasan 1989 Language, Context, and Text: Aspects of Language in a Social-Semiotic Perspective 8079 (2020)
Crystal 1991 Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics 8429 (2020)
McNeill 1992 Hand and Mind: What Gestures Reveal about Thought 8644 (2020)
Lakoff 1993 The contemporary theory of metaphor (in Metaphor and Thought, 2nd ed.) 8367 (2020)
Baker, Colin 1993 Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 8498 (2020)
Lyons 1968 Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics 7383 (2020)
Ross 1967 Constraints on Variables in Syntax 6954 (2020)
Levin 1993 English Verb Classes and Alternations: A Preliminary
7469 (2020)
Hymes, Dell 1974 Foundations in Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach 7778 (2020)
Pustejovsky 1995 The generative lexicon (also 1991 article in Computational Linguistics) 7098 (2020)
Talmy 2000 Toward a Cognitive Semantics 7255 (2020)
Dowty 1979 Word Meaning and Montague Grammar: The Semantics of Verbs and Times in Generative Semantics and in Montague’s PTQ 7459 (2020)
Chomsky 1959 A review of BF Skinner’s Verbal Behavior (Language) 6865 (2020)
Selkirk, E 1986 Phonology and Syntax: The Relationship between Sound and Structure 6106
Baker 1988 Incorporation: A Theory of Grammatical Function Changing 7237 (2020)
Rizzi 1997 The fine structure of the left periphery 7261 (2020)
Ladefoged and Johnson 1993 A Course in Phonetics 7348 (2020)
Skehan, Peter 1998 A Cognitive Approach to Language Learning 7276 (2020)
Pollard and Sag 1994 Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar 6528 (2020)
Jackendoff 1990 Semantic Structures 6695 (2020)
Biber 1988 Variation across Speech and Writing 6687 (2020)
Miller et al 1990 Introduction to WordNet: An On-line Lexical Database 6350 (2020)
Labov 2010 Principles of Linguistic Change, Cognitive and Cultural
Jackendoff 1983 Semantics and Cognition 5723
Chomsky 1980 Rules and Representations 5716
Labov 1966 The Social Stratification of English in New York City 5666
Davidson, D 1980 Essays on Actions and Events: Philosophical Essays 5632
Tomasello 2009 Constructing a Language 5582
Krashen, SD, and TD Terrell 1983 The natural approach: Language acquisition in the classroom 5514
Vendler, Z 1969 Linguistics in Philosophy 5507
Ellis, R 2003 Task-based Language Learning and Teaching 5468
Schmidt, RW 1990 The role of consciousness in second language learning (Applied Linguistics) 5377
Abney 1987 The English Noun Phrase in its Sentential Aspect 5276
Wardaugh, Ronald 1986 An Introduction to Sociolinguistics 5204
Pollock 1989 Verb movement, Universal Grammar, and the structure of IP (Linguistic Inquiry) 5106
Fauconnier, Gilles 1985 Mental Spaces: Aspects of Meaning Construction in Natural Language 5077
Comrie 1981 Language Universals and Linguistic Typology: Syntax and Morphology 5067
Heim 1982 The Semantics of Definite and Indefinite Noun Phrases 5029
Lambrecht 1994 Information Structure and Sentence Form: Topic, Focus, and the Mental Representations of Discourse Referents 5022
MacLeod, CM 1991 Half a century of research on the Stroop effect: An integrative review 5017
Kamp, H, and U Reyle 1993 From Discourse to Logic: Introduction to Model-Theoretic Semantics of Natural Language 5009
Chomsky 1975 Reflections on Language 4994
Cruse, D.A. 1986 Lexical Semantics 4947
Taylor 1989 Linguistic Categorization 4941
Hauser, Chomsky, Fitch 2002 The faculty of language: What is is, who has it, and how did it evolve? (Science) 4940
Smith, Frank 1971 Understanding reading: A psycholinguistic analysis of reading and learning to read 4898
Huddleston and Pullum 2002 The Cambridge Grammar of English 4873
Givón 1984 Syntax: An Introduction 4774
Sweetser 1990 From Etymology to Pragmatics: Metaphorical and Cultural Aspects of Semantic Structure 4714
Chomsky 1970 Remarks on nominalization 4709
Davidson, D 1984 Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation: Philosophical Essays 4694
Hopper and Thompson 1980 Transitivity in grammar and discourse (Language) 4687
Halle and Marantz 1993 Distributed morphology and the pieces of inflection 4680
Cinque 1999 Adverbs and Functional Heads: A Cross-linguistic Perspective 4674
Craik, FIM, and E Tulving 1975 Depth of processing and the retention of words in episodic memory 4672
Barwise and Perry 1991 Situations and Attitudes 4651
Jespersen 1940 A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles: Volume 5, Syntax 4627
Dowty 1991 Thematic proto-roles and argument selection 4594
Gass, Susan M. 1994 Second Language Acquisition: An Introductory Course 4580
Palmer, Frank R. 1986 Mood and Modality 4577
Grimshaw 1990 Argument structure 4574
Jackendoff 2002 Foundations of Language: Brain, Meaning, Grammar Evolution (also précis in Brain and Behavioral Science) 4529
Bybee 1985 Morphology: A Study of the Relation between Meaning and Form 4494
Greenberg 1963 Some universals of grammar with particular reference to the order of meaningful elements 4384
Halliday 1975 Learning How to Mean: Explorations in the Development of Language 4379
Jespersen 1924 The Philosophy of Grammar 4378
Nespor and Vogel 1986 Prosodic Phonology 4352
Rizzi 1990 Relativized Minimality 4327
Ladd 1996 Intonational Phonology 4317
Strawson, PF/td> 1959 Individuals 4304
De Beaugrande, Robert and Wolfgang U. Dressler 1981 Introduction to Text Linguistics 4254
Chafe, WL 1976 Givenness, contrastiveness, definiteness, subjects, topics, and point of view 4254
Liberman et al 1967 Perception of the speech code (Psychological Review) 4169
Croft and Cruse 2004 Cognitive Linguistics 4131
Goldberg 2006 Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language 4128
Talmy 1985 Lexicalization patterns: Semantic structure in lexical forms 4107
Eggins, Suzanne 1994 Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics 4101
Tannen 1989 Talking Voices: Repetition, Dialogue, and Imagery in Conversational Discourse 4830 (2020)
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