Obituary: Katrina Hayward

By Radice, William | The Independent (London, England), March 24, 2001 | Go to article overview
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Obituary: Katrina Hayward


Radice, William, The Independent (London, England)


KATRINA HAYWARD was a linguist of great versatility and Senior Lecturer in Indonesian and Linguistics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

She was born Katrina Mickey in 1951, in Los Angeles. Her scientific approach to the study of language was grounded in a joint degree at Harvard in Linguistics and Mathematics. There she acquired a lasting passion for Greek, and also learnt Russian. In 1972 she came to London, and studied phonetics as an occasional student at University College. Unusually, though, for one for whom living speech was language's most captivating feature, she continued to study historical linguistics. She followed a Diploma in Comparative Philology at Oxford in 1974 by researching for a DPhil on "Studies in the Greek Dialects and the Language of Greek Verse Inscriptions".

Her supervisor, Professor Anna Morpurgo Davies was worried that shyness at interview might handicap her. When she applied for a lectureship at Soas, Professor R.H. Robins was happy to report that she had been "a wonderful interviewee". This became the pattern of her life: fellow specialists instantly recognised her quality, while those who were ignorant of her work did not realise how truly distinguished she was.

As a condition of her appointment at Soas, she was asked to concentrate on phonetics. This became her main research field. She was given responsibility for the Phonetics Laboratory, and by the late 1980s was publishing articles on the phonetics of languages as diverse as Shona, Swahili, Arabic and Korean. The culmination of this work was Experimental Phonetics (2000), which had been commissioned by Robins for the Longman Linguistics Library. It confirmed, by the wide range of her expertise in experimental techniques, Katrina Hayward's standing as one of Britain's leading phoneticians.

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