FERGUSON, Charles A.

FERGUSON, Charles Albert (“Fergie”). Philadelphia, PA 6.7.1921 — Palo Alto, CAL 2.9.1998. U.S. Linguist (Bengali Scholar) and Linguist. Professor in Stanford. From 1939 studies at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia: B.A. 1942, A.M. 1943 (thesis on Arabic), Ph.D. 1945 (Bengali). In 1946-55 Scientific Linguist, Near Eastern Languages at Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State, working in Beirut. In 1955-59 Lecturer in Linguistics at Harvard (also taught Arabic), then 1959-67 Director of Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. In 1956 visiting scholar at Deccan College. From 1967 Professor of Linguisticsat Stanford University, retired 1988. MarriedJonna Eichmuller (divorce, d. 1974), four children, then 1979 Shirley Brice Heath.

Ferguson was much interested in psycholinguistics and one of the founders of sociolinguistics.Further themes were child language, diglossia and development of literacy. Also interested in Semitic (M.A. on Moroccan Arabic, later fieldwork in Ethiopia).

Publications: Diss. The phonology and morphology of standard colloquial Bengali. Manuscript 1945.

Ed. with J. J. Gumperz: Linguistic Diversity in South Asia. Studies in Regional, Social and Functional Variation. 8+118 p. International Journal of American Linguistics III:26:3, 1960.

Articles on Bengali in JAOS, Language, etc., e.g. “Diglossia”, Word 15, 1959, 325-340; with M. Chowdhury, “The Phonems of Bengali”, Language 36, 1960, 22-59; “Verbs of ‘being’ in Bengali, with a note on Amharic”, J. W. M. Verhaar (ed.), The verb ‘be’ and its synonyms. Dordrecht 1972, 74-114.

– “South Asia as a sociolinguistic area”, Dimensions of Sociolinguistics in South Asia. Papers in Memory of G. Kelley. N.D. 1992, 25-36.

Also wrote on Semitic, linguistics, etc.; Sociolinguistic perspectives. Papers on Language and Society 1959–1994. Ed. by Th. Huebner. N.Y. 1996..

Sources: Dir. of Am. Sch. 8th ed. 3; R.K. Belnap, Encyclop. of Linguistics 2005, 331-333; *J. Fishman, Journal of Sociolinguistics 4, 2000, 121-128; *Th. Huebner, Language in Society 28, 1999, 431-437; *Fishman, Joshua, et al. (eds.), The Fergusonian impact: in honor of Charles A. Ferguson on the occasion of his 65th birthday. Contributions to the sociology of language 42. Berlin 1986; L. Menn, W. Bright & Khalil Barhoum, Language 75, 1999, 781-800 with bibliography; briefly Wikipedia.

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