It was very sad to learn* of the death of the linguist Michael Clyne. He will be remembered for his original work on the immigrant languages of Australia, on sociolinguistics (pragmatics, language contact and quantitative work on census data), and on bilingualism.
But most of all, many of us will miss his great generosity and his passion for helping speakers of all languages use the languages of their choice. Two strongly-held beliefs which he fought hard to get his colleagues, Governments and people to share were:
1. the importance of language rights: the right to learn a language and the right to learn through a language
2. the dangers of the monolingual mindset which, through ignorance, both discriminates against speakers of other languages, and destroys the social, cultural and economic resources that multilingualism affords a country.
Letters, speeches, opinion pieces and articles flowed from him in support of these causes (e.g. 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010). Good that his efforts were recognised – he was made a Member of the Order of Australia.
Another cause was the need to bridge the divide between applied linguistics and general linguistics, a divide that he strongly believed was unnecessary and counter-productive. Bridging it in himself, he was a member of both the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and of the Australian Academy of Humanities. Until illness slowed him down, he faithfully attended annual meetings of both the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia and the Australian Linguistics Society. And he devised a delightful way of bringing them together – by establishing a prize administered by both societies – for the best postgraduate research thesis on some aspect of immigrant bilingualism and language contact.
What a man. Vaarwel, adieu, farvel, addio, farewell.
*via Facebook – bad news comes now so quickly.