Thanks

Last week’s mail brought a package from Japan: a copy of Tetsuya Koshiishi’s Ph.D. dissertation, Collateral Adjectives in English and Related Issues (Edinburgh, 2009). With an acknowledgements page that begins by expressing gratitude to his supervisors (Heinz Giegerich and Nikolas Gisborne) and continues:

Thanks must also go to Arnold M. Zwicky, who first taught me syntax and morphology at the Ohio State University back in 1987 and 1988. Without this wonderful experience, I would not have chosen to become a teacher of English linguistics.

Oh my. There’s something to warm a teacher’s heart. (By the way, my old friend, sometime collaborator, and Language Log colleague Geoff Pullum was Tetsuya’s internal examiner.)

(A collateral adjective is a “Latinate suppletive relational adjective”: feline, related to cat; oral, related to mouth; and the like.)

Every so often I get touching thanks like this. A while back, a linguist who wrote a dissertation under my direction in 1992 reconnected with me by e-mail and revealed that he had given his son (now in college in Korea) the middle name Arnold. Wow.

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