Anthony Traill (1938-2007)

By Childs, G. Tucker | Studies in African Linguistics, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

Anthony Traill (1938-2007)


Childs, G. Tucker, Studies in African Linguistics


Sadly I report the death of Anthony Traill, noted phonetician and general expert on Khoisan and other languages of southern Africa. Tony's most important scholarly contributions were in phonetics, especially his extensive work on clicks, e.g., Traill 1994a, but he also published on other phonetic phenomena such as depressor consonants, tone, voice quality, etc., e.g., Traill 1985. Tony also published extensively on the genetic relationships in Khoisan (or the lack thereof), e.g., Traill 1986, and documented the disappearance of the phylum's constituency, e.g., Traill 1996, as well as the languages themselves, e.g., Traill 1994b. One of his non-specialist productions was "Extinct South African Khoisan Languages", a CD documenting the death of Khoisan languages with digitized versions of the earliest recordings (Traill 1997). Because of the boycott of South Africa during the apartheid regime, not all of Tony's publications were known as well as they should have been. Nonetheless, among experts in his various fields his work was recognized as always being of the highest quality: fastidious, detailed, and often understated; eventual recognition was shown by his Honorary Membership in the Linguistic Society of America in 1998.

Tony's Ph.D. and B.A. were awarded by the University of the Witwatersrand ("Wits"), but he was also able to study at the University of Edinburg where he earned a master's degree. Virtually all of his academic career was spent at Wits, although he did spend a sabbatical year abroad in Germany, and traveled extensively to universities around the world once the ban on South Africa was lifted. …

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