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Phonetics Laboratory
Faculty of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics

FirthDay 2010

17th June, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

As the UK's first Professor of General Linguistics, J. R. Firth influenced generations of linguistics scholars down to the present day. His innovative approaches to phonological theory (Prosodic Analysis), semantics (collocational analysis), and other aspects of language remain influential today, and if anything continue to grow in their impact. As a celebration of the 120th anniversary of his birth, and to mark fifty years since his death, we held a day of talks and remembrances.

Guests of honour

Rupert Firth and Jane Roe (grandson and grand-daughter of J. R. Firth)
Professor Frank Palmer, University of Reading

Provisional Programme

Khalili Lecture Theatre

9.30 Welcome: Paul Webley (Director, SOAS)

Introduction to the day: John Coleman (Oxford)

Morning: Historiographical Perspectives

9.40 Leendert Plug (Leeds) A brief resumé of the life and career of J. R. Firth

9.55 Joanna Przedlacka and Michael Ashby (UCL): Firth at UCL, 1923-1938

10.25 John Coleman (Oxford): J. R. Firth's Teaching in the Phonetics of Indian Languages at Oxford. [Audio recording, 9.5 MB mp3 file]

10.40 Jean-Luc Chevillard (Paris-Diderot 7): Firth's 1934 "Short outline of Tamil pronunciation" revisited

11.10 Break

11.40 Elena Battaner-Moro (Madrid): Meaning, Function and Context: Foundations of Firthian Linguistics

12.10 Jacqueline Léon (Paris-Diderot 7): From war time to Makerere Conference: Firth's restricted languages

12.40 Julia Gavrilova (Moscow): The reception of J. R. Firth's ideas in Russia

1.10 Buffet Lunch


2.00 Frank Palmer (Reading): Relations with Firth both personal and academic (1950-7) [Audio recording, 15.4 MB mp3 file]

John Bendor-Samuel (SIL, and a student of Firth's, 1954-6): A "footnote" on J. R. Firth and Kenneth Pike [Audio recording, 9.1 MB mp3 file]

2.10 Joanna Przedlacka and Michael Ashby (UCL): Firth remembered - interviews about Firth recorded by Beverley Collins

2.25 Elena Battaner-Moro and Lutz Marten (Madrid and SOAS): The 're-discovery' of the Firth papers, with an updated version of the handlist of items in the Firth collection in SOAS archives.

Afternoon: Contemporary Impacts

2.40 John Local, Richard Ogden, Leendert Plug and Gareth Walker (York, Leeds and Sheffield) System and structure in the context of everyday talk

3.10 Gregory Garretson (Boston University) A framework for corpus-based analysis of word meaning based on Firthian principles

3.40 Lutz Marten (SOAS) Meaning, function and context in Bloomsbury: fifty years on

4.10 Closing remarks: Peter Sells (SOAS); FirthDay cake and wine reception

Refreshments, a buffet lunch and an early evening wine reception will be provided.
Registration fee £14, students and non-salaried free. (Cheques to be made payable to "SOAS"; you may pay by cheque in advance or cash/cheque on the day.)

To register, please contact:

Stuart McGill
Department of Linguistics
School of Oriental and African Studies
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square

Email: sm112@soas.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4530

Further information about the programme:

John Coleman
Oxford University Phonetics Laboratory
41 Wellington Square
Oxford OX1 2JF, UK


We warmly appreciate the support of the Philological Society, the Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas, and the Department of Linguistics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.