[Corpora-List] Obituary: John McH. Sinclair

Linda Bawcom linda.bawcom at sbcglobal.net
Thu Mar 15 00:47:01 CET 2007

Dear Ute,

I can add nothing to what you have written so well about this brilliant man except to say that my fondest memory actually has nothing to do with this brillance, but rather a demonstration of his love for his family, his playfulness, and his complete lack of arrogance (which can sometimes be found in those of his stature in academia).

The picture that will always remain in my mind is of a few of us [attendees of one of his seminars] clapping to the rhythmn of a lively jig being played on the piano by Geoffrey Leech while John danced a jig with his young son.

I treasure and am grateful for that memory. I can't believe he's gone.

Kindest regards,

Ute Römer <ute.roemer at engsem.uni-hannover.de> wrote:

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

"Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind." John Donne

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