Archive for the ‘Linguists’ Category

Constructing a Voice of Authority through Persona

June 19, 2016

A highlight of Stanford’s graduation last Sunday for me was Andrea Lawson Kortenhoven’s “walking through” our departmental ceremony for her PhD in Linguistics, tentative title above. Something personal for me, since I had the pleasure of encouraging Angi when she was a BA student in Spanish at Ohio State (graduating 1995), before coming to Stanford. Her husband Matthew and their four kids were there to cheer her on; I wasn’t able to make it, but I was cheering.

First, a photo (courtesy of Lelia Glass) of Angi with her immediate academic family — her thesis advisers, sociolinguists Penny Eckert and John Rickford — then Penny’s summary of the dissertation, and then some remarks on Angi’s academic regalia in the photo (in black, green, gold, and red).

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John Holm

January 8, 2016

A very brief death notice for John Holm, a great pioneer in the study of pidgin and creole languages (and, incidentally, a very nice man). The NYT had a substantial obituary for him (by William Grimes) on the 4th, quoting linguist (and Language Logger) Sally Thomason on the significance of his work (and noting that John is survived by his husband, Michael Pye, and a brother).

Ben Zimmer posted a death notice on Language Log on the 4th (in “R.I.P. John Holm (1943-2015)”), based on the NYT piece.

John was resolute in treating pidgins and creoles as languages in their own right, not as debased versions of other languages — an attitude that is commonplace now but took considerable work to establish, a job that John did a lot of the heavy lifting on.

 

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Jane at SRI

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Zippy’s diary

July 17, 2015

Today’s Zippy:

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

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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:

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Cue the Rolling Stones.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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