Catford, J. C. (John Cunnison)

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J.C. Catford Papers

Material in this online collection forms part of a manuscript collection for J. C. (John Cunnison) Catford held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to this collection, please consult the online finding aid.

Related materials may also be found in the English Language Institute (University of Michigan) records.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

J. C. Catford (1917-2009) was a professor of linguistics at the University of Michigan from 1964-1986. Materials in this online repository Include video recordings of “The Catford Lectures,” a series of eight lectures given by Catford on occasion of his retirement. Also included are two articles co-authored by Professor Catford.

John (“Ian”) Cunnison Catford was born on March 26, 1917 in Edinburgh, Scotland and studied at the University of Edinburgh and the Institut de Phonétic of the University of Paris in the late 1930s. In 1939, he travelled to Athens, Greece to work at the Institute of English Studies and from 1941-1946, he resided in the Middle East, serving with the British Council in Greece, Egypt, and Palestine.

After the long interruption of the Second World War, Catford returned to Britain in 1946 and completed his formal education at the University of London in 1952. He then returned to Scotland and to the University of Edinburgh where he was first research lecturer with The Linguistic Survey of Scotland and then senior lecturer and director of the School of Applied Linguistics.

Joining the faculty of the University of Michigan in 1964, Catford served first as director of the English Language Institute and professor of linguistics. He was active in departmental, college, and University affairs; served a term on SACUA; headed the Laboratory of Communicative Sciences; and on two different occasions assumed the chairmanship of the Department of Linguistics.

Catford’s books and articles dealt with all aspects of phonetics, with the theory of translation, and with the application of linguistic knowledge to methods of second language instruction. He was also keenly interested in the languages of the Caucuses and renowned for his ability to pronounce a wide variety of words and linguistic sounds. His expertise was internationally known and led to invitations to Britain, North America and the Near East as well as Uganda, Japan, Hong Kong and the USSR. Catford retired from active faculty status on May 31, 1986 but continued to publish articles and participate in conferences for years afterwards. Catford and his wife, Lotte, had two children, Lorna and Julian; he died of complications from pneumonia on October 6, 2009 in Seattle, Washington.

*From Proceedings of the Board of Regents (1984-1987) pages 711-712

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Copyright held by the Regents of the University of Michigan.

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