In memoriam Bernard Spolsky

EL Publishing is very sad to report that Advisory Board member Professor Bernard Spolsky passed away on 20th August 2022 aged 90 years.

Bernard was an emminent and highly respected scholar with interests in language testing, second language learning, computers in the humanities, applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, language landscape, Jewish languages, language policy, and language management. He was emeritus professor at Bar-Ilan University, having previously taught in McGill University (Canada), Indiana University (US) and University of New Mexico (US). He retired from Bar-Ilan in 2000, but continued active research, presentations, and publication up to this year.

Bernard was an active and encouraging supporter of the work of EL Publishing and its Foundation Editors, and a strong mentor of the Endangered Languages Programme at SOAS from its inception in 2003 to its end in 2015. He gave the 2009 Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project annual public lecture on one of his long-standing research interests, the revitalisation of the Maori language, spoken in his home country of New Zealand — we published his lecture in Language Documentation and Description Volume 6 as “Rescuing Maori: the last 40 years“, accompanied by an interactive CD with audio recording (now out of print, but a future republication in an online format is planned). He also published “Language management for endangered languages: the case of Navajo” in the same issue of LDD.

Bernard was also a contributor to two volumes edited by Austin and Sallabank:

  • Spolsky, Bernard. 2011. Language and society. In Peter K. Austin and Julia Sallabank (eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Endangered Languages, 141-156. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Spolsky, Bernard. 2014. Language Beliefs and the Management of Endangered Languages. In Peter K. Austin and Julia Sallabank (eds.) Endangered Languages: Beliefs and Ideologies, 407-422. Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy.

In addition to his role as a researcher, author, mentor, and supporter of our work, Bernard will also be much missed as a gentle, affable, kind, and caring friend. Requiescat in pace.