A book for the professor

On Facebook yesterday, this message from the J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Linguistics and the Humanities at Stanford University, my excellent colleague John R. Rickford:

Last night (Oct. 20), I experienced one of the most moving, memorable events of my academic career! After giving a keynote talk at the 47th annual conference on New Ways of Analyzing Variation in language, at New York University, I was presented with a festschrift (book) containing 47 articles and 9 vignettes by faculty colleagues and former students from around the world. It was a surprise gift to mark my retirement (last Stanford class is Jun 2019). Tears flooded my eyes more than once, beginning with the moment I saw all 4 of our children and 6 grandchildren in the huge audience, and ending with editors Renee Blake and Isa Buchstaller presenting me with four bound pre-print volumes and the contributors and family members coming on stage. The book, entitled “The Roundtable Companion to John Russell Rickford,” will be about 588 pages when printed (May 2019). This was truly one of those life-moments that “take your breath away.”

Some of the happy central figures in this event:


(#1) left to right: Isabelle (Isa) Buchstaller (Professor of English Linguistics, Univ. of Duisburg-Essen); JRR; Julie Sweetland (sociolinguist and Vice President for Strategy and Innovation at the FrameWorks Institute in Washington DC); Angela Rickford (sociolinguist and Professor of Special Education at San Jose State Univ.); Renée A. Blake (Associate Professor of Linguistics and Social & Cultural Analysis at New York Univ.)

There are other photos, including one that has all of John’s family in it, in a kind of swarm along with friends, colleagues, and former students of John’s. Here’s a more organized 7/16/16 family photo, at a celebration of Angela and John’s 45th wedding anniversary (with their children’s names boldfaced):


(#2) left to right: Neale & Shiyama Rickford Clunie w. son Miles (5); Adrienne Clay & Russell Rickford, w Lance Clunie (8); Angela and John w Nyla Washington (9) and Anaya Rickford (8, Russell & Adrienne’s daughter); Marc Jr. and Anakela Rickford Washington with son Kai (6) and daughter Bailey Lynette (2 months); Luke Marshall Rickford

It’s especially nice that John could be presented with the Festschrift at a NWAV meeting, since he’s been an NWAV enthusiast since the very first one, in 1972. (More on this in a future posting.)

Very basic data on JRR: b. 9/16/49 in Georgetown, Guyana. BA, UCSC; PhD, Penn 1979. Came to Stanford in 1980.

Earlier on this blog:

on 10/2, “The Rickford plenary address”, about John’s 10/20 paper “Class and Race in the Analysis of Language Variation and the Struggle for Social Justice: Sankofa”

on 10/14, “Variationist socioinguistics: NWAV 47”

Then in that future posting, some remarks about John as a friend and colleague. And, finally, in a separate posting, my own paper in John’s honor — not in the Festscrift because it’s not framed as a standard academic paper, though I think it works as a blog posting. An early version, from 3/29: “Bits of culture”.

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