Robert Lawrence “Larry” Trask (1944 – 2004) was a US-born linguist based in the United Kingdom. Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sussex. The author of several books on linguistics and language, he was also an authority on the Basque language and historical linguistics.
Not known for his political correctness, Trask was wont to come up with jewels like "New Age: Bookshops today are obliged to devote a depressingly large amount of shelf-space to books churned out by crackpots and charlatans on everything from dubious self-improvement practices and dream interpretation to…. This sad waste of trees is … This coy label is overly respectful, in that it suggests that the books have some detectable content. You may use it, if you prefer to refrain from blunter descriptions…"… to which this editor fully subscribes.
Likewise, Trask was notoriously anti-Chomsky: "I have no time for Chomskyan theorising and its associated dogmas of 'universal grammar'. This stuff is so much half-baked twaddle, more akin to a religious movement than to a scholarly enterprise. I am confident that our successors will look back on UG as a huge waste of time. I deeply regret the fact that this sludge attracts so much attention outside linguistics, so much so that many non-linguists believe that Chomskyan theory simply is linguistics, that this is what linguistics has to offer, and that UG is now an established piece of truth, beyond criticism or discussion. The truth is entirely otherwise."
Publications[edit | edit source]
- A dictionary of grammatical terms in linguistics (1993)
- Language change (1994)
- Language: The basics (1995)
- A dictionary of phonetics and phonology (1996)
- Historical Linguistics (1996), ISBN 0-340-60758-0
- A student’s dictionary of language and linguistics (1997)
- Key concepts in language and linguistics (1999)
- The Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar (2000), ISBN 0-14-051464-3
- Time Depth in Historical Linguistics (co-editor) (2000), ISBN 1-902937-06-6
- Introducing Linguistics (with Bill Mayblin) (2000)
- The dictionary of historical and comparative linguistics (2000)
- Mind the Gaffe (2001), Penguin. ISBN 0-14-051476-7
- How to Write Effective Emails (2005), ISBN 0-14-101719-8
References[edit | edit source]
- Interview in The Guardian
- Mind the Gaffe p. 196 (2001)