Archive for the ‘Linguists’ Category

LSA award: Arika Okrent

October 23, 2015

News from the Linguistic Society of America:

Arika Okrent announced as winner of LSA Linguistics Journalism Award: Arika Okrent, the language columnist for Mental Floss and a frequent linguistic contributor to many publications, has been named this year’s recipient of the Linguistic Society of America’s Linguistics Journalism Award. The Linguistics Journalism Award, chosen annually by LSA officers and staff, honors the journalist whose work best represents linguistics over the previous 12 months.


Jane J. Robinson

October 6, 2015

On Thursday (the 8th) there will be a memorial for my old friend Jane J. Robinson at SRI International in Menlo Park CA (where she worked for 14 years, until her retirement in 1987), organized by Ray Perrault (director of the AI Center at SRI, specializing in artificial intelligence and computational linguistics) and Barbara Grosz (Higgins Professor of the Natural Sciences at Harvard, specializing in natural language processing and artificial intelligence).


SRI logo

Jane died on April 22nd, just short of her 97th birthday, but the news barely percolated outside the community of computational linguists (where she was a giant presence). On August 25th, however, an excellent obituary appeared on the site of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), of which Jane was president in 1982 — very much oriented towards computational linguistics, naturally enough, but worth quoting from here.


ACL logo

I’ll add some straightforward biographical information (gathered by Ray Perrault for me — many thanks to Ray) and personal reminiscences as the story unfolds.


Jane at SRI


Zippy’s diary

July 17, 2015

Today’s Zippy:

An eventful life indeed, and this was just one day.


Dead Tongues

July 15, 2015

News from the 2015 Linguistic Institute (at the University of Chicago), from Stephanie Shih: a performance yesterday by Dead Tongues, the (un)official band of Stanford Linguistics. Plus a stunning Lingstitute2015 logo for the band by Stephanie:


Cue the Rolling Stones.


Paul Chapin

July 9, 2015

From the Linguistic Society of America’s website on the 2nd:

In Memoriam: Paul Chapin, 1938-2015

The LSA mourns the July 1, 2015 death of Paul Chapin, LSA member since 1965, Life Member of the Society, Fellow of the LSA (Class of 2008) and former Secretary-Treasurer (2003-2008).


Stanford news: the Sunday NYT

January 22, 2015

Two Stanford linguistics stories in the Sunday (January 18th) New York Times: Tyler Schnoebelen at the American Dialect Society meetings, Will Leben on product naming.


Emmon Bach

December 6, 2014

On Language Log yesterday, an obituary for Emmon Bach (6/12/29 – 11/29/14) by Barbara Partee. Briefly: Emmon was born in Japan, gew up in Fresno CA and Boulder CO, finished a Ph.D. in Germanic Studies at Chicago, went on to German and then Linguistics at UTexas-Austin and ultimately to a long career at UMass-Amherst, and retired to an appointment at SOAS (University of London) and then at Oxford.

From Barbara:

As the Oxford linguists write, “Emmon was one of the brightest and most influential figures in formal semantics, and was also well known for his work on morphology and North American languages [notably those of British Columbia].  He also continued to do innovative research on morphology and semantics”

Now a few more personal notes.


Lives well lived

November 21, 2014

I am currently dithering over writing a death notice for my Stanford colleague Patrick Suppes (philosopher and more), who died recently after a long and immensely satisfying career. Mostly I’m hoping that Margalit Fox will produce one of her elegant and thoughtful obits for the New York Times, so that I can piggy-back on that. [Added a few hours later: Drat! Fox tells me she’s on leave from the paper, working on her next book, so no Foxobits for a while.]

While I dither, a few notes on recently-ended lives well lived (Mike Nichols, Milton Rubin, and San Francisco’s Brown twins), and on Fox, who is, yes, a card-carrying linguist.


Family, language, and food in the New Yorker

November 4, 2014

The November 3rd New Yorker (“The Food Issue”) has two pieces connected, by family relationships, to “linguistics and the language sciences” (as we say in the AAAS): Adam Gopnik’s Our Local Correspondents piece “Bakeoff: What is happening to our pastry?” and Dana Goodyear’s Letter from California piece “Élite Meat: A food entrepreneur offers a delicious — but pricey — solution for guilty pleasures”, about meat entrepreneur Anya Fernald. The former leads us to McGill linguist Myrna Gopnik (mother of Adam) and Berkeley psychologist, specializing in cognitive and language development, Alison Gopnik (sister of Adam); and the latter to Stanford psychologist, specializing in infant-directed speech, Anne Fernald (mother of Anya).


Geoff Leech

August 30, 2014

Died on August 19th, linguist Geoffrey Leech of Lancaster University (in the UK). The quick overview from Wikipedia:

Geoffrey Neil Leech (16 January 1936 – 19 August 2014) was a specialist in English language and linguistics. He was the author, co-author or editor of over 30 books and over 120 published papers. His main academic interests were English grammar, corpus linguistics, stylistics, pragmatics and semantics.

A nice notice on Language Log by Ben Zimmer on the 20th, emphasizing the importance of Geoff’s work in corpus linguistics.



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