Biography of Nick "Minoan Genius" Nicholas

Early '95; '93; '92

You can read this page: in English; sta ellhnika; en Esperanto; tlhIngan Hol lo'lu'taHvIS.

I was born on August the 29th, 1971. This means that I was born four months after Igor Stravinsky died, but one month before Jimi Hendrix died. This also means I share a birthday with Michael Jackson (joy) and with Richard Gere (double joy), and my birthday falls on the Feast Day of the Beheading of St John the Baptist (hold me back, I can hardly contain myself.)

My place of birth was Launceston, Tasmania, Australia. I was born to Maria Nicholas, née Lykakis, born in Zakros, Crete, Greece, and Stavros Nicholas, Hadjimarcou, born in Kalopanayiotis, Cyprus. I have one sister, Irene, two years younger than me, who works as a head teller with the National Bank of Australia.

Having established that my name should have been Nick Hadjimarcou, allow me to bore you with the origin of my name... My father has six siblings, three of which (plus himself), at one stage or other, emigrated to Australia. The first of these siblings, George, emigrated to Australia in 1947. Mirabile dictu, back in '47, no Skip (Anglo Australian) felt like pronouncing the name 'Hadjimarcou'1. It kept coming out as Hadjimaria, and whatnot. So, my uncle decided to make his patronymic2 his surname.

His three siblings that migrated down to Australia (Chris, Stavros, and Andrew) followed suit. There was only one hitch with the plan. It is mandatory amongst Greeks that children be named after their grandparents. With both my grand-dads called Nick, there was no escaping my horrible fate. And so it came to pass that I have three cousins, also called Nick Nicholas!3

My family left Tasmania to resettle in Greece when I was eight. I lived in Greece (Crete, in the town of Sitia, near my mother's village) from 1979 to 1983. From 1983 to 1998, I lived in Melbourne, and that is where I was formed as a human being. I attended Melbourne High School between '85 and '88, and was at Melbourne Uni from '89 to '98. My undergraduate degree was in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The Elec Eng part was an utter waste of time --- I had no interest in the subject, and to this day I cannot use a soldering iron. It did, however, get me an Honours degree for free --- which came in handy. The Comp Sci was less useless --- in fact, it's provided me with just about all of my paid employment since. But Nick was still incomplete...

And so it came to pass that in 1991, in my penultimate year of Engineering, I met a woman at a party who happened to be a linguistics student. What's this? Linguistics? Hang on, aren't I interested in language and stuff? After all, there was a time back in high school when I'd collect languages like stamps.

So (getting my mid-life crisis earlier than most engineers) I started attending Ilia Pejros' Historical Linguistics course. And grinned a lot. The students doing the course (ever ready to think the worst of interlopers from Engineering) thought I was grinning because I was racist scum laughing at Ilia's accent; in fact, I was grinning because I thought the reconstructive methodology suspect. Which is possibly why, now that I've ended up becoming a historical linguist despite myself, my work is on language change, not reconstruction... At any rate, I came back for more, and soon enough, I did a Master's in Cognitive Science (as a stepping stone into Linguistics), and started my PhD in Linguistics July '94. It was very nice to be finally doing a subject I'm actually interested in... Theses are, of course, not without cost, and from November 1996 to December 1998, when I was working on my thesis in earnest, I was rarely seen in public.

An even bigger sacrifice came upon me when, just as I was getting around to the notion of being sociable again in my city, I got an offer I couldn't refuse to work in Irvine, Orange County, California. I have been in the US since February 1999. The way I'm dealing with being away from Australia? I'm still in Australia; it's just that everybody around me is in the States...

What do I do for fun? Well, I used to compose, but I gave that up after high school (though I'll write a song now and then); to be done properly, composition requires a lifetime's dedication --- I don't hold with Sunday composers. I used to write poetry (in Esperanto) --- and I gave that up too, just as I was getting good at it ('92): when you really start getting depressed (as opposed to pseuding), your voice just goes. (I'm better now, thank you!) Then, of course, there's this whole biz of artificial languages (see my home page), various forms of music (again, see the home page), and doing various and sundry compugeeky things.

What else? I was something of a Trek-head --- and one of the few people I know to think Deep Space Nine an improvement over The Next Generation. Trek fell by the wayside too, a victim of my thesis (and my weaning off television), but my preoccupation with Klingon guarantees I will forever be associated with the show. I was widely reputed to have been loud and obnoxious --- or, to put it in terms I'm more happy with, out-going and fun. After four years of dissertation and departmental politicking (some might add growing four years more mature --- but I'm loath to), I now only intermittently holler at passers-by. And I think that cashews are a very, very, very good idea...


  1. Hadjimarcou comes from Hadji (the Arabic for 'pilgrim to Mecca', and via Turkish influence, the Greek and Armenian for 'pilgrim to Jerusalem') and Markos, Mark.
  2. (Not to insult anyone's erudition, but just in case you were wondering,) 'patronymic' means "father's name".
    1. Nick Nicholas, son of George, was a high school principal in the Northern Territory (but is now back in Tasmania.)
    2. Nick Nicholas, son of Chris, is a journalist in Athens, Greece.
    3. Nick Nicholas, son of Andrew, is a computer programmer in Melbourne, Australia.
    4. Nick Nicholas, son of Stavros, is inflicting these biographical ravings onto you!
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Created and Maintained by: Nick Nicholas,
Last revision: 1999-3-29