Three more deaths

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Following on the announcement of the death of my dear friend Ellen Prince (here), I'm now passing on three further death announcements from recent days: sociolinguist Faye Vaughn-Cooke and lexicographers Fred Mish and Sol Steinmetz.

First, e-mail from John Rickford on October 20:

I just heard from my good friend Ewart Thomas that Faye Vaughn Cooke passed away today. One of her most recent publications was "Lessons Learned from the Ebonics Controversy:Implications for Language Assessment" (in the Sociolinguistic Variation volume edited by Bayley and Lucas, 2007, in honor of Walt Wolfram). And from the contributors' section of that volume, here is the blurb on her:

A. [for Anna] FAY VAUGHN-COOKE is Professor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). She was the Vice President for Academic Affairs at UMES, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research at Florida A&M University, and Chairperson of the Department of Languages and Communication Disorders at the University of the District of Columbia. She has received numerous grants from Federal agencies to support her research and projects in sociolinguistics, language acquisition, and language.

She will be missed, both by her family and close friends, and by those of us who work on AAVE and related issues.

(Try not to be overly concerned about the variations in the spelling of Fay(e)'s name.)

Then, from Joanne Despres to ADS-L on October 20:

I am sorry to have to inform you that Frederick C. Mish, former editor-in-chief, editorial director, and vice president of Merriam-Webster, died on September 27 of this year. In his 29-year career with the company, Fred was responsible for overseeing editorial work on the ninth, tenth, and eleventh editions of the Collegiate Dictionary and numerous other dictionaries and reference books bearing the company's name. A book he was particularly proud to see published during his tenure was Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage [regular LLog readers will recognize MWDEU as one of our all-time favorite reference books], for which he did a complete review of the manuscript at the final editing stage. A member of the Dictionary Society of North America, American Dialect Society, Linguistic Society of America, and National Council of Teachers of English, Fred gave frequent public talks on American English and the making of dictionaries and appeared on several nationally televised programs, including William Buckley's Firing Line, CBS Morning News, and Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt, spreading the good word about dictionaries and doing his part to dispel the common misconceptions. He also raised three sons, Stephen, David, and Andrew, with his wife Judy, and was active in the community life of their home town, Longmeadow, Massachusetts. His colleagues at Merriam-Webster will remember him for his high standards of scholarship and firm sense of commitment to the company's traditional strengths as well as his sensitivity and self-deprecating wit.

And finally, a jaunty obit by Margalit Fox in the NYT of 25 October for Sol Steinmetz, here. Sol would have loved it, with its digressions into etymologies in several languages. (Fox has training in linguistics and draws on it in her writing.) As for Sol, he was an etymologist, lexicographer, linguistics student of Uriel Weinreich, ordained rabbi, and cantor — and "a particular authority on Yiddish, in all its kvetchy beauty", as Fox put it. The obit ends with a tribute from Jesse Sheidlower:

"He never had a bad word to say about anyone," said Jesse Sheidlower, the editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary and a former protégé. "And he knew a lot of bad words."

1 Comment

  1. Arnold Zwicky said,

    October 28, 2010 @ 12:53 pm

    In the interests of fairness, I should point out that I had some sharp words to say about Steinmetz and Kipfer's The Life of Language, back on 1/5/07 in "The specialness of English" (here).

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