Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Historian: First English Bible Fueled First Fundamentalists

Medieval Justice Not So Medieval

French jails to be converted into swish hotels to cut State’s debts

Church takes first step to redundancy

Medieval pendant found in village

Germans Take Pride in the Wurst

Ancient Roman road map linking Spain to India unveiled

Obituary of Richard Hogg, from The Independent on 10 Dec 2007

Professor Richard Hogg: Historian of the English language
Published: 10 December 2007

Richard Milne Hogg, historian of the English language: born Edinburgh 20 May
1944; Lecturer in English Language, University of Amsterdam 1969-73;
Lecturer in English Language, Lancaster University 1973-80; Smith Professor
of English Language and Medieval Literature, Manchester University
1980-2007; General Editor, Cambridge History of the English Language
1992-2001; FBA 1994; married 1969 Margaret White (two sons); died Manchester
6 September 2007.

Richard Hogg, a world-renowned specialist in the linguistic history of
English, died suddenly midway through the sabbatical year which should have
allowed him to bring important projects on dialectology and on Old English
to completion. His best-known achievement is the six-volume Cambridge
History of the English Language (CHEL, 1992-2001), of which he was General

Hogg's roots were in Edinburgh, where he was born, in 1944, grew up and
studied. After nearly 40 years away, he was still wholly a Scot in speech
and sympathies. His postgraduate career in Edinburgh had begun with two
contrasting academic preoccupations: the Chomskyan analysis of present-day
English syntax on the one hand (his PhD topic), and Middle English dialects
on the other (his research post). In their very different ways, both
represented state-of-the-art linguistics of the time.

At 26 he took up a lectureship in Amsterdam, and four years later he moved
to Lancaster University. In 1980 he arrived at Manchester University as the
surprisingly young Smith Professor of English Language and Medieval
Literature. Not that I recall him ever teaching literature: it was rarely
possible to get him to do anything that he didn't want to.

His early publications are mostly on the syntax of words like "both" and
"none", including the book (English Quantifier Systems, 1977) derived from
his PhD. Increasingly he started to focus on the sounds and forms of
historical English, especially Old English, the period up to about 1100, on
which he became an authority. He tackled linguistic change generally, and an
interest in analogy led to one paper called simply "Snuck" ­ an explanation
for that common variant of "sneaked". He also worked in phonological theory,
publishing the influential textbook Metrical Phonology (1987) with his
colleague and former student, Chris McCully.

The historical strand led to the multi-author Cambridge History of the
English Language (CHEL), a big project which took many years of planning and
good management to bring to successful completion. It has become a standard
work in the field. Hogg himself edited the first volume on the earliest
period of English and wrote the chapter on phonology and morphology. Last
year, we jointly edited a new one-volume History of the English Language,
and Hogg was still working on his own Grammar of Old English (volume 1
published in 1992, volume 2 nearly complete at his death).

He ranged widely. Interests included English dialectology ­ both the facts
of variation in historical and present-day English and the ways in which
scholars have approached these facts. Likewise he followed the history of
English grammar writing and attitudes to language. His main current project,
three-quarters finished, was a history of English dialectology that combined
those themes of language variation and of intellectual and cultural history.
He was planning a joint monograph with his newest colleague, Nuria
Yáñez-Bouza, on the history of prescriptivism in England.

In the mid-1990s Hogg became one of the founding editors (together with Bas
Aarts and me) of a new academic journal published by Cambridge University
Press, English Language and Linguistics. It would look for the best in
English language scholarship, but with a constant eye to its relation with
linguistic theory. In addition to his scholarly expertise, Richard Hogg
brought to the project a shrewd understanding of the academic world and of
academic publishing. Throughout his career he strongly promoted the
importance of English Language studies. Philologists pay close attention to
textual evidence; linguists build theories. Hogg did both.

Although he wore it lightly, Hogg was always a thinker, and time and again
his judgement was proved sound. He came up with imaginative, often
ingenious, suggestions both as a theorist and as an organiser. In meetings
he could talk his way through the twists and turns of a complicated sequence
of ideas with a body language to match. He had acted as Dean of the Faculty
of Arts in Manchester (1990-93), and was influential nationally and
internationally, often called on as adviser or consultant. In 1994 he was
elected a Fellow of the British Academy, and a decade later of the Royal
Society of Edinburgh.

Hogg was fun to have around, always ready for conversation and gossip. His
enthusiasm for the English language was infectious, and in breaks he could
chat with students about football, film or country music. Indeed, the
lectures themselves were often studded with anecdotes. He started a blog in
2006 in an "attempt to expose some of the many fallacies about English".
Church takes first step to redundancy

No comments: