Obituary: Robert Stockwell (1925-2012)

Our founding chair, Robert Stockwell, passed away October 28, 2012, following a long illness.

Bob was born June 12, 1925, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was educated at the University of Virginia, where he received a B.A. in English and Greek in 1946, an M.A. in English in 1949, and a Ph.D. in English Philology in 1952. He worked from 1952 to 1956 School of Languages of the Foreign Service Institute, where he developed highly effective pedagogical materials, grounded in linguistic theory, for the teaching of Spanish. Bob came to UCLA as an Assistant Professor in the English Department in 1956. He soon was marshaling the resources for an effective linguistics program:  the Interdepartmental Program in linguistics was approved in 1960, followed by the Center for Research in Languages and Linguistics in 1963, and then full department status in 1966 — the same year Bob was promoted to Full Professor. For many years Bob served as the new department’s chair.

The department proved to be an intellectually very lively place, one to which strong faculty were readily attracted. With a number of important recruitments, the department rose in only a few years to scholarly eminence and thence to a very high national program ranking. Bob was also in the thick of the new department’s research activities, notably in his coauthorship of The Major Syntactic Structures of English (1973), with Paul Schachter and Barbara Partee, and also in his longstanding work (much of it with his colleague and later spouse Donka Minkova, UCLA English Department) on the history of English. As his health declined during the last few years we saw little of Bob, but the strong academic culture of the department he left behind has remained as an attestation of his work.

Here is a link to his webpage:


SynSem 11/02 – Martin Walkow

Martin Walkow will be presenting in Syntax and Semantics Seminar this week. His talk is entitled: Variation and Repair in Person-based restrictions on Cliticization. All welcome!

Speaker: Martin Walkow
Date/Time: Friday, November 2, 2-4pm
Location: Campbell 2122
Title: Variation and Repair in Person-based restrictions on Cliticization
Contact: Hilda Koopman

Colloquium: Friday 11/2, Sharon Rose (UCSD)

Sharon Rose will be delivering the first department colloquium of the year this Friday, November 2. Lunch follows in Campbell 2122. Her talk is titled: The Syntax And Prosody Of Moro Questions.

Speaker: Sharon Rose (UCSD)
Title: The Syntax And Prosody Of Moro Questions
Location: Rolfe 3126
Time: Friday, November 2, 11-1pm
Contact: Anoop Mahajan


The structure of questions in African languages has been the focus of numerous studies. In this talk, I highlight both the syntactic and prosodic structure of questions in Moro, a Kordofanian language of Sudan. Moro polar questions are marked by an optional low-toned question particle –a. A study of the f0 patterns of declaratives and polar questions reveals that declaratives are marked by a final fall, but modulated by the final lexical tone of the word. The overall f0 range of questions is higher compared to declaratives in the initial portion of subject-verb-object questions, but phrase-finally, the final word shows reduced pitch range. Moro employs both in-situ and ex-situ wh-questions. Subject questions employ the ex-situ structure, whereas both options are used for non-subjects. I show that the ex-situ structure is a wh-cleft, based on parallels with relative clauses and clefts, including morphological markers and tone patterns. Subject and non-subject cleft questions are further distinguished by different clause markers and the presence of complementizer doubling. Finally, I discuss the prosody of wh-questions as compared to declaratives and polar questions. This research is collaborative with members of the Moro Language Project.