Elizabeth Closs Traugott
I have a lot of time for Dr Traugott. The main reason for this mini-obsession of mine (for a major obsession, consult my feelings towards Emma Thompson) is that she pretty much gave me my thesis topic, through her course on subjectification in grammaticalisation at the Australian Linguistics Institute at LaTrobe University, July 1994, and in a brief e-mail exchange shortly thereafter. Though she started her career off as a Chomskian, her work for the past twenty-five years has been consistently barking up the right tree in the attempt to understand language as an evolving entity; she is a giant in the field of grammaticalisation, and her thinking on the discoursal/pragmatic origins of grammaticalisations is for me the most exciting thing happening in linguistics today.
Mark Durie
Mark is a strong mind, and he is sorely missed by linguists throughout the country now that he has left the profession. He (inadvertently) taught me to dislike Chomsky, and (not so inadvertently) made me a functionalist. I think his notion of what language is, and the research he does under those precepts, are spot on.
Talmy Givón
A father figure to the West Coast functionalists (as termed by Geoffrey Pullum, the flat-earth functionalists; as termed by me, Real Linguists), he has done some rather foundational work on both grammaticalisation and discourse analysis. And in one of those cruelty-of-fate specials, he visited Melbourne University two weeks after I'd left for Europe.
Sandy Thompson
Has there been anything linguistic and cool that Sandy Thompson has not been involved with? She helped invent RST (which, with all its faults --- and my Master's thesis catalogues a few --- is the best tool we've got for discourse analysis); she's possibly the leading light amongst West Coast functionalists; the grammar of Mandarin she cöauthored is the stuff of legend; she's helping out with the ultra-cool CD-ROM database of Spoken American English thingy; and she has excellent taste in scarves.
Georgios Hatzidakis
This guy wasn't a linguist, he was a Kazantzakian Übermensch! He singlehandedly introduced modern linguistics into Greece; he was the greatest dialectologist Greece has ever known; he only got into linguistics in his thirtys; in 1896, at fifty-three years of age, he quit his post at the University of Athens, took up arms, and went to the mountains of his native Crete to fight the Turks; he lived on another forty-seven years after that, active to the last; and he had a rather cute goatee. On the debit side, he was the major academic advocate of Puristic Greek, against the Demoticists and Jean Psichari in particular; Chatzidakis was a far better historical linguist, but history is for the victors to write, and however much whitewash modern-day crypto-Purist George Babiniotis might apply, Chatzidakis was on the losing side on this one. Although, ultimately, so was Psichari...
Mark Okrand
Yes, of course the man has to end up here for inventing Klingon, and for having been a serious linguist before inventing Klingon (you'll occasionally come up across his name in bibliographies on Sino-Tibetan), but I'm irritated by him more often than not; it's manifestly obvious he doesn't take Klingon as seriously as the Klingonists do. The way he brushed off my suggestion that Klingon belongs to the Keenan & Comrie relativisation accessibility hierarchy, in HolQeD 4:2, left me somewhat vexed --- particularly since he then made it clear it does belong, after all. (Nothing outlandish about that --- the relativisation hierarchy is just common sense.) And ultimately, there's very little about Klingon that's all that alien; to an Australianist or an Amerindianist, it's positively boring. Oh well; he's got a spot on the Top Ten --- but he's on notice.
Eduard Hovy
Ed Hovy has been doing great works in text generation since his PhD thesis program, PAULINE, back in 1988. PAULINE has a couple of chuckles tucked away, in the best tradition of Schank's Yale AI Lab generators from the '70s; for example, if told to tell a Carterite cantankerous boss that Carter lost the election, it would end up saying nothing at all! Since his thesis, Hovy's work has rotated around RST; he is probably its major advocate in text generation, and largely responsible for its current prevalence in the field. I have the odd philosophical disagreement with him, and I'm flabbergasted at his aesthetic judgement of the two photos on his Web page, but I like his work a lot.
Anna Wierzbicka
Anna Weetbix, as she is affectionately (?) known by her students at Australian National University, is the driving force between the best thing to happen in non-formal semantics ever: Natural Semantic Metalanguage, in which all meanings are held to be decomposable to combinations of a very small number of semantic primitives. Her work is brilliant: her Lingua Mentalis and Dictionary of Speech Verbs are highly readable yet rigorous, and are very well crafted. Unfortunately in recent years she's been held in thrall by the anthropologists, with the result that the lean mean 13 primitives of Lingua Mentalis in 1980 are nowadays closer to 70. Still a lot smaller than Lojban's 1332, of course!
Bernard Comrie
Something of a granddaddy of linguistic typology and a card-carrying member of the Klingon Language Institute, and author of the textbook on Language Universals and Linguistic Typology (not that there's anything wrong with Bill Croft's Typology and Universals), Bernie is as prestigious as they get --- which is why Linguistics is known in the Parkville Linguistics Circle as "The Bernie Journal".
Brian Joseph
The man I have already praised in public (though not yet to his face) as "The only other linguist in the West that cares about mediaeval Greek"; I have already had a fruitful professional relationship with Brian, a scholar who bears himself with welcome (though unwarranted) humility, and look forward to it continuing for many a year.
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Created and Maintained by: Nick Nicholas, opoudjis@opoudjis.net
Last revision: 1999-3-29