John Gumperz

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.


One Response to “John Gumperz”

  1. For John Gumperz | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Gumperz and his work, on this blog, see here. Another colleague who is much […]

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