About this Fellow
Born in 1939 in Sussex, he spent the first five years in various parts of the UK, followed by three years in New Zealand (1945-8). He spent the rest of his boyhood living in Nottinghamshire, and attending Loughborough Grammar School (which is in Leicestershire). After three years at Corpus Christi College Cambridge he moved to London to do a PhD in SOAS, and has been in London ever since. He spent the whole of his working life at UCL, and is proud still to be attached to UCL as an Emeritus Professor of Linguistics, and also to be a Fellow of the British Academy. He has a wife (Gaynor) and two grown-up daughters (Lucy and Alice) and a grandson (Peter). He lives in North London, where he enjoys walking in Alexandra Park and doing neighbourly things through 'WERA' (of which he is the webmaster). Even after retirement, his ambition is to build bridges between linguistics and psychology; and between linguistics and education. His main achievements are the theory of Word Grammar and the UK Linguistics Olympiad.
- Emeritus Professor of Linguistics, University College London
- Lecturer, Reader then Professor of Linguistics, University College London, 1970
- Emeritus Professor of Linguistics, University College London, University College London, 1989
Sign language as a model to understand human language generally: neuroimaging studies of commonalities in processing spoken & signed languages; the influence of modality of communication on language structure; sociolinguistics of Deaf communities.
The languages, religions and history of pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia with special attention to Zoroastrianism; Ancient and Middle Iranian philology and linguistics
Theoretical and experimental psycholinguistics; multi-language studies of psychological mechanisms for decoding the structure and meaning of sentences; modelling the process of grammar acquisition by children
History of English, especially syntax, including current change; modelling syntactic change; word classes and word class boundaries, gradience in syntax; corpus construction and problems of tagging