Journal of the International Phonetic Association

IPA News

In Memoriam: John Cunnison ‘Ian’ Catford and Stanley Ellis

Jimmy G. Harrisa1 and Jack Windsor Lewisa2

a1 University of Victoria


JOHN CUNNISON ‘IAN’ CATFORD, IPA Council member and one of the great phoneticians, died peacefully on 6 October 2009. Catford was not only one of the best phoneticians; he was also a good, kind, honest human being. He always gave credit where and when credit was due. Catford first became seriously interested in phonetics when, at age 14, his parents took him to see a stage performance of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. From that time until his death, he maintained a professional interest in phonetics and linguistics. Soon after seeing Pygmalion, he found a copy of A Primer of Phonetics by Henry Sweet in a second-hand bookstore in Edinburgh. It became his ‘bible’, and over the next two years he read every book on phonetics and linguistics he found in the Edinburgh Public Library. About the same time, he started keeping notebooks on his ideas and phonetic observations.