Randolph Quirk

Last updated

Quirk in 2016 Lord Quirk 2016.jpg
Quirk in 2016

Charles Randolph Quirk, Baron Quirk, CBE, FBA (12 July 1920 – 20 December 2017) was a British linguist and life peer. [1] He was the Quain Professor of English language and literature at University College London from 1968 to 1981. He sat as a crossbencher in the House of Lords.

Contents

Life and career

Quirk was born at his family's farm, Lambfell, near Kirk Michael on the Isle of Man, where his family farmed, the son of Thomas and Amy Randolph Quirk. [2] He attended Douglas High School for Boys on the island and then went to University College London (UCL) to read English (the department relocated to Aberystwyth due to the war) [2] under A.H. Smith. His studies began in 1939 but were interrupted in 1940 by five years of service in Bomber Command of the RAF, [2] where he rose to the rank of squadron leader.

Quirk became so deeply interested in explosives that he started an external degree in chemistry, [2] but his English undergraduate studies were completed from 1945 to 1947 (with the department back in Bloomsbury) and was then invited to take up a research fellowship in Cambridge; however he took up a counter-offer of a junior lectureship at UCL, which he held until 1952. [2] In this period he completed his MA on phonology and his PhD thesis on syntax, and in 1951 became a post-doctoral Commonwealth Fund fellow at Yale University and Michigan State University. [2] Shortly after his return from the US in 1952, he moved to the University of Durham, [2] becoming reader there in 1954, and professor in 1958.[ citation needed ] He returned to UCL as professor in 1960 and in 1968 succeeded Smith as Quain Professor, a post he held until 1981.

Quirk lectured and gave seminars at UCL in Old English (Anglo-Saxon) and the History of the English Language. These two disciplines were part of a ten-discipline set of final examinations in the undergraduate syllabus. At that time Old and Middle English, along with History of the English Language, were all compulsory subjects in that course. He also worked closely with A. C. Gimson and J. D. O'Connor of the Phonetics Department, sometimes sitting in as an examiner for Phonetics oral examinations.

In 1985, he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Bath. [3]

Survey of English Usage

In 1959, Quirk founded the Survey of English Usage, working with Valerie Adams, Derek Davy and David Crystal; they sampled written and spoken British English produced between 1955 and 1985. The corpus comprises 200 texts, each of 5,000 words. The spoken texts include dialogue and monologue, and the written texts material intended for both reading and reading aloud. [4]

The project was to be the foundation of A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language , a widely used reference grammar and the first of English in real use rather than structured by rules derived from Greek and Latin models.[ citation needed ] Quirk and his collaborators proposed a descriptive rather than prescriptive grammar, showing readers that different groups of English speakers choose different usages, and argued that what is correct is what communicates effectively.[ citation needed ]

Summer School of English

One of Quirk's favourite enterprises was the London University Summer School of English, where the above-mentioned colleagues and other budding scholars and friends of his came to teach for a month. It was considered[ by whom? ] the most eminent body of English teachers anywhere in the world. The resident students were foreign academics, teachers and students. He threw himself into the social life with gusto and enjoyed singing Victorian ballads in a Cockney accent over a "couple of pints". When the School moved away from Queen Elizabeth College to New Cross, numbers fell rapidly. The next and last successful director was the phonetician J. D. O'Connor.

Awards

Quirk was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1976 New Year Honours, [5] and was knighted in 1985. [6] He had openly been a Labour supporter all his life, although he sat in the House of Lords as a cross-bench peer. [7] He was President of the British Academy from 1985 to 1989 and became a life peer as Baron Quirk, of Bloomsbury in the London Borough of Camden on 12 July 1994. [7] [8] He sat on the boards of Pearson Education and the Linguaphone Institute. [7]

Personal life

Until his death, in 2017, he resided in Germany and England. His wife was the German linguist Gabriele Stein. She passed away on 6 March 2020. [9]

Publications

Related Research Articles

Corpus linguistics is the study of language as expressed in corpora (samples) of "real world" text. Corpus linguistics proposes that reliable language analysis is more feasible with corpora collected in the field in its natural context ("realia"), and with minimal experimental-interference.

"He" is the masculine third-person, singular personal pronoun in Modern English.

In linguistics, an object pronoun is a personal pronoun that is used typically as a grammatical object: the direct or indirect object of a verb, or the object of a preposition. Object pronouns contrast with subject pronouns. Object pronouns in English take the objective case, sometimes called the oblique case or object case. For example, the English object pronoun me is found in "They see me", "He's giving me my book", and "Sit with me" ; this contrasts with the subject pronoun in "I see them," "I am getting my book," and "I am sitting here."

In linguistics, a subject pronoun is a personal pronoun that is used as the subject of a verb. Subject pronouns are usually in the nominative case for languages with a nominative–accusative alignment pattern. On the other hand, a language with an ergative-absolutive pattern usually have separate subject pronouns for transitive and intransitive verbs: an ergative case pronoun for transitive verbs and an absolutive case pronoun for transitive verbs.

English personal pronouns personal pronoun in English

The personal pronouns in English take various forms according to number, person, case and natural gender. Modern English has very little inflection of nouns or adjectives, to the point where some authors describe it as an analytic language, but the Modern English system of personal pronouns has preserved some of the inflectional complexity of Old English and Middle English.

Synesis is a traditional grammatical/rhetorical term derived from Greek σύνεσις.

In grammar, a complement is a word, phrase, or clause that is necessary to complete the meaning of a given expression. Complements are often also arguments.

An adverbial clause is a dependent clause that functions as an adverb. That is, the entire clause modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. As with all clauses, it contains a subject and predicate, though the subject as well as the (predicate) verb may sometimes be omitted and implied.

Generic <i>you</i> Use of the pronoun you to refer to an unspecified person,

In English grammar and in particular in casual English, generic, impersonal, or indefiniteyou is the use of the pronoun you to refer to an unspecified person, as opposed to its standard use as the second-person pronoun. Generic you can often be used in the place of one, the third-person singular impersonal pronoun, in colloquial speech.

An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun that refers to non-specific beings, objects, or places.

Geoffrey Neil Leech FBA was a specialist in English language and linguistics. He was the author, co-author or editor of over 30 books and over 120 published papers. His main academic interests were English grammar, corpus linguistics, stylistics, pragmatics and semantics.

Practical English Usage is a standard reference book aimed at foreign learners of English and their teachers written by Michael Swan.

Quain Professor is the professorship title for certain disciplines at University College London, England.

The International Corpus of English (ICE) is a set of corpora representing varieties of English from around the world. Over twenty countries or groups of countries where English is the first language or an official second language are included.

The Survey of English Usage was the first research centre in Europe to carry out research with corpora. The Survey is based in the Department of English Language and Literature at University College London.

Sidney Greenbaum was a British scholar of the English language and of linguistics. He was Quain Professor of English language and literature at University College London from 1983 to 1990 and Director of the Survey of English Usage, 1983-96. With Randolph Quirk and others, he wrote A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. He also wrote Oxford English Grammar.

English possessive

In English, possessive words or phrases exist for nouns and most pronouns, as well as some noun phrases. These can play the roles of determiners or of nouns.

<i>A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language</i> book by Randolph Quirk

A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (ISBN 9780582517349) is a descriptive grammar of English written by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. It was first published by Longman in 1985.

Thetical grammar forms one of the two domains of discourse grammar, the other domain being sentence grammar. The building blocks of thetical grammar are theticals, that is, linguistic expressions which are interpolated in, or juxtaposed to, clauses or sentences but syntactically, semantically and, typically, prosodically independent from theses structures. The two domains are associated with contrasting principles of designing texts: Whereas sentence grammar is essentially restricted to the structure of sentences in a propositional format, thetical grammar concerns the overall contours of discourse beyond the sentence, thereby being responsible for a higher level of discourse production.

In grammar, an object complement is a predicative expression that follows a direct object of an attributive ditransitive verb or resultative verb and that complements the direct object of the sentence by describing it. Object complements are constituents of the predicate. Noun phrases and adjective phrases most frequently function as object complements.

References

  1. Safire, William (24 April 1982). "More important? Or Importantly?". Miami News . p. 15A. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Interview, 2001" . Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  3. "Honorary Graduates 1989 to present". bath.ac.uk. University of Bath . Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  4. "Survey of English Usage" . Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  5. "No. 46777". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1976. p. 9.
  6. "No. 50078". The London Gazette . 29 March 1985. p. 4500.
  7. 1 2 3 According to this official biography on the UK Parliament website, accessed 3 February 2014.
  8. "No. 53736". The London Gazette . 18 July 1994. p. 10227.
  9. Gabriele Stein, Academia Europaea.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Lord Annan
Vice-Chancellor of University of London
1981–1985
Succeeded by
Lord Flowers