Archive for January, 2011
Nicholas Ostler is an author of books on language history: Empires of the Word – a language history of the world (2005), Ad Infinitum – a biography of Latin (2007), and most recently The Last Lingua Franca – English until the return of Babel. He is also Chairman of the charity, Foundation for Endangered Languages, a post he has held for the last fifteen years.
Nicholas grew up in Kent, where he attended Tonbridge School. He graduated with firsts in Classics and then Philosophy and Economics at Balliol College, Oxford, before taking a Ph.D. in Linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His thesis, supervised by Paul Kiparsky, was A Theory of Noun Case and Verb Diathesis, applied to Classical Sanskrit.
After teaching English and Linguistics in Japanese universities (Toyama, Kanazawa, Meiji Gakuin) for three years, he returned to the UK. There he worked as a software and management consultant during the 1980s, founding his own consulting company Linguacubun in 1991. His focus was on knowledge-based systems, and speech and language technologies, and he co-ordinated and monitored various projects in this field on behalf of the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry, and the European Union’s directorate for Information Technology. He was the UK government’s monitor of the EU joint project in machine translation, EUROTRA, for its last four years, and later also served on the advisory board of the British National Corpus project.
In 1995 he founded the charity, Foundation for Endangered Languages (www.ogmios.org), which has since held fourteen conferences all over the world, and given away approximately £50,000 in grants. For ten years he edited its newsletter Ogmios, named for the Celtic god of eloquence. This year’s conference (in September 2011) will be held in Quito, Ecuador.
He has been a research fellow at the universities of Lancaster, Bath and (currently) London (at the School of Oriental and African Studies). He is writing descriptive grammars of the extinct language Chibcha, and its descendant U’wa, both spoken in Colombia, South America.
He lives in Bath with his wife Jane Dunn, the literary biographer, two whippets and four cats. His children (a daughter and five steps) are long grown up and gone. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ITI is pleased to announce its keynote speaker for the 25th Anniversary Conference, to take place on 7 & 8 May at the NEC Gallery near Birmingham. The keynote session will be given by Nicholas Ostler, the well known scholar and author of books on language history.
Taking the title “English: the Last Lingua Franca?” for his speech, Nicholas will talk around the themes of his latest book, ”The Last Lingua Franca – English until the Return to Babel”. Nicholas is a popular and entertaining speaker and his insight into the development of the English language will be of great interest to translators and interpreters working into and out of English.
More information about Nicholas can be found in his biography on the conference website, while reviews of his book can be found at:
One of the key benefits of the ITI Conference for many delegates is the opportunity to meet up informally with colleagues working in similar fields and those with shared language combinations.
At the NEC Gallery venue in Birmingham, we have plenty of open space in which informal groups can gather together. So if you want to put faces to twitter IDs, practise your Spanish or chat about the latest news in your field of specialisation, then let us know using the comments form.
The Conference Fringe is a great chance for you to maximise the benefits of attending the conference – don’t miss out!
In the latest edition of ITI’s journal, the Bulletin, the booking form for the conference on the inside back cover indicates that the conference dinner will be held at the Hilton Metropole hotel at the National Exhibition Centre. Please note that this has actually not yet been confirmed, and may change. An announcement concerning the dinner will be made within the next couple of weeks, before the end of January.
We apologise for any confusion and inconvenience this may have caused.