News & Announcements

In memoriam Professor Erik Charles Fudge

Published Sunday, November 22, 2020

We are sorry to report the passing of Erik Charles Fudge, member of the Society throughout his career and a member of Council from 1980-83. His first degree was in mathematics and modern and medieval languages at the University of Cambridge (1955). After graduating he spent some years as a school teacher, before moving to Indiana University to take part in a project on machine translation and information retrieval. He returned to Cambridge to undertake a PhD in linguistics (awarded in 1967), and in 1965 joined the newly formed Department of General Linguistics in Edinburgh as a lecturer in Phonology. In 1968 he was back in Cambridge, this time as lecturer in Phonetics and Phonology, before taking up the foundational chair in Linguistics at the University of Hull in 1974. During his time there he also served as editor of Journal of Linguistics (1979-84). The Hull department was a victim of the 1980’s university cuts and in 1988 he moved to a chair in Linguistic Science at the University of Reading where he remained until his retirement in 1999. A lifelong committed Christian, he had served as a lay reader in the Church of England from the 1960’s and was ordained priest in 1994.

The main focus of his research was syllable structure and word stress, as evidenced in a string of journal articles and his book English Word Stress (Allen & Unwin, 1984). He took a wide-ranging view of the relevance of different theoretical approaches to the study of language in general and phonology in particular, as can be seen in the volume he compiled for the Penguin Modern Linguistics series Phonology: Selected Readings (1973). He was the section editor for Phonology in the first edition of Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (Pergamon Press, 1993) and for Language and Religion in the second edition (Elsevier, 2006).

Keith Brown & Nigel Vincent

The Eleventh RH Robins Prize of the Philological Society

Published Monday, October 12, 2020


PhilSoc is delighted to launch the 11th R. H. Robins student Prize for an article on a linguistic topic that falls within the area of the Society's interests.

The Prize will be awarded in open competition to anyone who was both:
(i) a registered student (at the time of submission); they should submit a letter from their supervisor, or from a person of similar standing, attesting to their status and that the submission is their own work); and,
(ii) Members or Student Associate Members of PhilSoc.

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PhilSoc announces new President

Published Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The PhilSoc AGM held on 13 June 2020 saw the election of a new President. After completing her three-year term of office, President Prof. Aditi LAHIRI stood down. She was thanked for her service and elected Vice President for life. The new President Prof. Susan FITZMAURICE was warmly welcomed.

PhilSoc announces new members of Council

Published Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The PhilSoc AGM held on 13 June 2020 saw the election of five new ordinary members of Council. Five Council members stood down, namely, Prof. Karen CORRIGAN, Prof. Susan FITZMAURICE, Dr Seth MEHL, Prof. Patrick SIMS-WILLIAMS, and Dr Laura WRIGHT. The retiring members were thanked for their service, and their replacements were welcomed, namely, Dr Kate ALLAN, Prof. Jenny CHESHIRE, Dr Sam HELLMUTH, Prof. Martin MAIDEN, and Dr Ranjan SEN.

The President's Lecture and AGM

Published Saturday, June 6, 2020

The AGM of PhilSoc will be held remotely on Saturday 13 June at 4.00 p.m. BST, replacing the planned event at Newnham College (Cambridge). It will conclude with the President’s Lecture at 5.00 p.m. BST, scheduled as a separate remote event. Prof. Aditi Lahiri will speak on ‘Converging evidence for morpho-phonological pertinacity: diachrony and experimental psycholinguistics’. All welcome (including guests). Please register here.

Next meeting

Published Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The next meeting of PhilSoc, originally scheduled at SOAS University of London, will be held remotely using Zoom. It will take place on Friday 1 May 2020 at 4pm (BST). Prof. Jeff Good (University of Buffalo) will speak on ‘Modelling the development of the morphologically hybrid nature of the Bantu Final Vowels.

To register, please sign up here. You will need to have Zoom on your device and will be sent a link before the meeting.
All welcome!

In memoriam Sir John Lyons

Published Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Philological Society regrets to advise members that Vice-President Sir John Lyons passed away on 12 March 2020 at the age of 87 after a long period of ill health. Lyons grew up in Stretford, Lancashire, and won a scholarship to Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1950 where he read Classics. After national service he returned to Cambridge in 1956 to begin his PhD in Linguistics under W. Sidney Allen, moving to a lectureship at SOAS in 1957 (the same year he joined PhilSoc) and completing his PhD under R. H. Robins on ‘Some lexical sub-systems in the language of Plato’. In 1960 he went to Indiana University to work on machine translation and gave his first courses on general linguistics. From 1961 to 1964 he taught at Christ’s College and from 1964 to 1984 he was Professor of Linguistics at the Universities of Edinburgh and Sussex. Between 1965 and 1969 he was the founding editor of the Journal of Linguistics. His 1999 paper, published in our Transactions Vol 97 (‘Diachrony and synchrony in twentieth-century linguistic semantics: old wine in new bottles?’), reflects on aspects of his intellectual history, noting “both the Philological Society and the London School played a crucial role in my intellectual development … in what, as far as linguistics is concerned, were my formative years”. 

John Lyons was a leading scholar in the field of semantics and pragmatics, and his textbooks Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics, Semantics (2 volumes), and Language, Meaning and Context are models of care, clarity and precision. He was a Fellow of the British Academy, the recipient of honorary degrees from UK and international universities, and in 1987 was knighted ‘for services to the study of linguistics’. In 2016, he was awarded the Neil and Saras Smith Medal for Linguistics by the British Academy ‘for his outstanding lifetime contribution to the field of linguistics’. After serving as Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, from 1985 he retired to France in 2000.

Prof. Peter Austin (SOAS University of London)

Professor Martin Durrell receives life achievement award

Published Thursday, March 12, 2020

Congratulations to Prof. Emeritus Martin Durrell (Manchester), who was awarded the prize of the Director of the Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache for lifetime achievement in international German linguistics on 11 March 2020. It is a particular honour as the prize was awarded for the first time. Martin is a member of PhilSoc, who has served as treasurer and Council member. Institute Director Prof. Henning Lobin spoke very warmly and in detail about Martin's research achievements at the award ceremony, which took place during the annual conference of the institute. As Martin could not be present, research student Louis Cotgrove (Nottingham) received the prize on Martin's behalf.

Next meeting

Published Thursday, February 20, 2020

The next meeting of PhilSoc will take place on Saturday 7 March 2020 at Somerville College, Oxford. Prof. Louise Esher (CNRS, Toulouse) will speak on 'Analogical change and paradigmatic irregularities in Gascon'. The meeting will take place in the Flora Anderson Hall at 4.15. Tea will be served in the Brittain Williams Room from 3.45. All welcome!

Next meeting

Published Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The next meeting of PhilSoc will take place on Friday 7 February 2020 at SOAS University of London. Prof. Hendrik De Smet (Leuven) will speak on 'What predicts productivity? Theory meets individuals '.
The meeting will take place at 4.15 in the Brunei Gallery Building (opposite the Main Building) in Room B103. Tea will be served from 3.45.
All welcome! 

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What predicts productivity? Theory meets individuals 

Because they involve individual-level cognitive processes, psychological explanations of linguistic phenomena are in principle testable against individual behaviour. The present study draws on patterns of individual variation in corpus data to test explanations of productivity. Linguistic patterns are predicted to become more productive with higher type frequencies and lower token frequencies. This is because the formation of abstract mental representations is encouraged by varied types but counteracted by automation of high-frequency types. The predictions are tested for English ?ly and ?ness-derivation, as used by 698 individual journalists in the New York Times Annotated Corpus and 171 members of Parliament in the Hansard Corpus. Linear regression is used to model individual variation in productivity, in relation to type and token frequency, as well as several other predictor variables. While the expected effects are observed, there is also robust evidence of an interaction effect between type and token frequency, indicating that productivity is highest for patterns with many types and not-too-infrequent tokens. This fits best with a view of entrenchment as both a conservative and creative force in language. Further, some variation remains irreducibly individual and is not explained by currently known predictors of productivity.