We represent several generations of language researchers whose careers have been shaped by knowing Susan Ervin-Tripp. Here we briefly tell our readers who we are in the context of the scholar and teacher whom we celebrate in this festschrift.
My interaction with Sue goes back to 1963, before we even met. She had been invited to review psycholinguistics for the Annual Review of Psychology and had heard that I -- then a graduate student at Harvard -- had been reviewing the Soviet literature on psycholinguistics and child language. She wanted to include Soviet work in her review, and asked me to co-author the chapter with her -- a flattering invitation that led to continuing collaboration when I moved to Berkeley a year later. I had come fresh from the heady days of early transformational grammar, and Sue introduced me into a group of researchers at Berkeley who were considering language in much broader, and equally exciting frameworks of ethnography, philosophy, and a new field that came to call itself the study of "communicative competence." While this approach fit my natural fascination with crosslinguistic comparison, it took me a long time to learn from Sue (and John Gumperz, Erving Goffman, Dell Hymes, John Searle, and their students) that language could not be studied without attention to the social and interactive contexts in which it is learned and used. In the course of teaching seminars and proseminars with Sue, and following every step of her research over the years, I have become a different kind of psycholinguist. And, in watching her interact with her students and colleagues, I hope to have become a better teacher and member of the academic and larger communities. Over the years, we have worked together to create a functionalist, interactionist, and cross-cultural approach to language. This collection of essays is one of the fruits of that approach.
I met Susan Ervin-Tripp when I first began graduate school at Berkeley in 1975. The first thing that struck me about Sue's voice was that it was always heard in counterpoint to the voices of others: She was always engaged in a spirited dialectic with other positions -- whether it be cognitive universals, indirect speech acts, developmental stage theory, psycholinguistic processing, generative semantics, etc., and she encouraged this attitude