Gordon, Ian A(listair) 1908-2004

views updated

GORDON, Ian A(listair) 1908-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born July 30, 1908, in Edinburgh, Scotland; died September 26, 2004. Linguist, educator, and author. A professor emeritus at the Victoria University of Wellington, Gordon was considered by many to be the father of lexicography in New Zealand. After graduating in 1936 with a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, he moved to Wellington, New Zealand, to accept a post as professor of English language and literature at the university where he would spend his career; he would also serve as dean of the Faculty of Arts there from 1944 to 1947, and again in 1952 and 1957 to 1961, was vice chancellor from 1947 to 1953, and was chair of the New Zealand Literary Fund from 1951 to 1973. Retiring in 1974, Gordon remained active in university affairs for many years afterwards. His long-standing interest in language, especially New Zealand slang, and to language education, led to his writing of several publications, including The Teaching of English (1947), The Movement of English Prose (1966), which is still considered to be a classic book on the subject, and A Word in Your Ear (1980), the last of which was adapted as a New Zealand television program in 1982; he also wrote a popular column for the New Zealand Listener on language usage. In addition, Gordon published biographies, such as John Skelton, Poet Laureate (1943) and John Galt: The Life of a Writer (1972), edited several Galt's books, and edited the Collins Concise English Dictionary (1982). Through his books and teaching, Gordon proved himself an influential figure in the field of lexicography, and many of his students went on to edit important dictionaries such as the Oxford English Dictionary. Among the honors awarded to Gordon for his contributions were his appointment as a commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1971, the 1995 Massey University Medal, and an honorary doctorate from Victoria University presented in 2004 by his university. He gave back to his university generously with a half-million-dollar gift presented in 2003 for the construction of a linguistics and English language institute.



Times (London, England), October 21, 2004, p. 72.


Scotsman,http://news.scotsman.com/ (October 1, 2004).

About this article

Gordon, Ian A(listair) 1908-2004

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article