Mary Ellen Ryder

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Mary Ellen Ryder, who taught English and linguistics at Boise State University (in Boise, Idaho) for roughly twenty years, died in a wildfire that consumed her house on Monday (two days ago). The news was reported in local newspapers yesterday and made it to the New York Times (National Briefing, p. A19) today; google on her name to get a variety of reports and an outpouring of grief from people at Boise State.

Mary Ellen investigated English morphology, arguing in several papers that both noun-noun compounding (the topic of her 1990 UCSD doctoral dissertation) and nominalizations in -er are multi-functional, with interpretations crucially dependent on context and background knowledge (along the lines of some recent postings here on Language Log). She was enormously enthusiastic, both in her public papers and in her teaching. Only 56, and a horrible death.


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