[Corpora-List] Obituary: John McH. Sinclair

Khurshid Ahmad Khurshid.Ahmad at cs.tcd.ie
Wed Mar 14 23:56:00 CET 2007

Dear Ute
Thank you for your note. This indeed is a sad day for all of us who had
benefited very directly from John's generosity, hospitality and kindness. I
consider myself very lucky to be amongst the large number of people who has
learnt from John how large corpora of texts help us learn ever so much about
the structure and function of language. He very kindly agreed to be a
keynote speaker at LSP 2003 (Language for Special Purposes) in Guildford: I
was about to introduce him to a large audience who already knew him, and I
remarked to John that I will be a bit fulsome in my praise of him, and he
replied that he will 'bite' back. I am ever so grateful for the Sinclair

The after dinner conversations at the Tuscan Word Centre and later in
Pontiagno are amongst my most treasured memories of him: his description of
people and places, theories and programs, were incisive and insightful.

My sympathies and condolences to Elena and the children.

This is a sad day as no one 'bit' back like John did.

Khurshid Ahmad
Professor of Computer Science,
School of Computer Science and Statistics
Trinity College,
Dublin 2
Ph. No. 00 353 (1) 896 8429
(Visiting Professor, University of Surrey,
Guildford, Surrey, UK)

Please note that emails to and from Trinity College may be subject to
disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-corpora at lists.uib.no [mailto:owner-corpora at lists.uib.no] On
Behalf Of Ute Römer
Sent: 14 March 2007 15:44
Subject: [Corpora-List] Obituary: John McH. Sinclair

On behalf of Elena Tognini Bonelli


Yesterday was a very sad day for the world of linguistics. John Sinclair (b.
14 June 1933) died at his home in Florence, aged 73. He will be deeply
missed by his family, his colleagues and his many friends. His death is a
terrible loss to everyone who knew him. Friends and colleagues are welcome
to the interment of the urn which will be at the Cimitero degli Inglesi in
Florence on 28 March at 3.30pm.

John was an outstanding scholar, a first-generation modern corpus linguist
and clearly one of the most open-minded and original thinkers in the field.
He was Professor of Modern English Language at the University of Birmingham
for most of his career and founder of the ground-breaking COBUILD project in
lexical computing which revolutionised lexicography in the 1980s and
resulted in a new generation of corpus-driven dictionaries and reference
materials for English language learners. After his retirement from
Birmingham John moved to Italy where he became President of the Tuscan Word
Centre, an association devoted to promoting the scientific study of
language. On the short intensive courses that the Tuscan Word Centre
offered, John very generously shared his original ideas about language and
linguistics with generations of younger scholars, introduced numerous
students to the fascinating world of corpora and inspired many new ideas for
future research in linguistics. He was an Honorary Life Member of the
Linguistics Association of Great Britain and a member of the Academia
Europaea. John held an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from the University
of Gothenburg, and Honorary Professorships in the Universities of Jiao Tong,
Shangai and Glasgow.

He is gone now and it will be very hard to get used to it. John's last email
to me just a couple of days ago ended "Very brief note tonight; more to
follow." I will miss him.



Dr. Ute Römer
English Department
Leibniz University of Hanover
Königsworther Platz 1
30167 Hannover

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