I’ve posted a conventional obituary for my friend and Stanford colleague Ivan Sag on Language Log, but here I’ll add some more personal touches.
Archive for the ‘Linguists’ Category
Following on my posting on gnomes at the Chelsea Flower Show, Andy Rogers remarked on Facebook that he had a garden Noam, and I recalled two Language Log postings from 2010 on gnome puns: one on Gnome Chomsky the Garden Noam (on the Just Say Gnome site); and one on Gnomeland Security (from several sources). But wait, there’s more.
Today is the third and last day of the IvanFest at Stanford (Structure and Evidence in Linguistics, a conference honoring Ivan Sag). A slideshow of Ivan photos goes by before the sessions begin and in breaks. My favorite:
This shows Gazdar, Klein, Pullum, and Sag, in alphabetical order from left to right, in (I think) 1984, while they were finishing the manuscript of:
Gerald Gazdar, Ewan Klein, Geoffrey Pullum & Ivan Sag, Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar. Basil Blackwell, 1985.
– looking for all the world (except for that computer) like a reasonably well-behaved rock group on an album cover.
In the NYT yesterday, an obit for John Gumperz, long of Berkeley and more recently of UC Santa Barbara as well: “John J. Gumperz, Linguist of Cultural Interchange, dies at 91″. As Ben Zimmer posted in Language Log:
John J. Gumperz, the Berkeley sociolinguist who, among his many contributions, introduced “the speech community” as a unit of linguistic analysis, died on Friday at the age of 91. Margalit Fox has a thoughtful obituary in the New York Times.
Ben goes on to extract material from Fox’s obit, which frames the story by means of an anecdote that begins:
The conflict hinged on a single word: “gravy.”
In additional to his many scholarly achievements, John was known for his helpfulness to students and colleagues alike. A few days ago, Jef Verschueren, writing to the International Pragmatics Association, spoke of his “modest, inspiring, and warm presence”. A deeply nice person as well as a smart one, a pleasure to be around.
I first met John so very long ago that I can’t recall the circumstances — except that it was in the early ’60s, when I was still in grad school.