In Memory of Prof. Dr. Carl James
With great sadness we have learned that Prof. Dr. Carl James passed away on November 1st 2016, having suffered for some time from Alzheimer’s disease.
Carl James was one of the original members of the Association for Language Awareness, and Chair of the Association from 2000 to 2006, after which he was elected as Honorary Member of the Association. Two years prior to the founding of the Association, together with Peter Garrett, he organised the 1989 BAAL Seminar on language awareness, at Bangor University, papers from which formed the basis for the book Language Awareness in the Classroom. His contributions to our Association will always be remembered.
Carl was a Professor in the Linguistics Department in Bangor, North Wales. His ideas developed in a beautiful environment. He worked in an impressive office with a fireplace, high ceiling and window, armchairs, bookshelf with glass doors, which overlooked the centre of Bangor and the entrance to the Menai Strait. He started working in Bangor in the late 1960s, where he built his career, learnt Welsh, and made his home. Although Carl’s interests and research activity in applied linguistics always encompassed a good range of areas, he is particularly associated with his work on Contrastive Analysis, Error Analysis, and Language Awareness. It is fair to say that Carl pursued Contrastive Analysis longer than many others did. He was very aware of this, and would quote what a reviewer said of his landmark monograph Contrastive Analysis (Longman, 1980): ‘Many people could have written this book, but only Carl James did’, attesting to his acumen and perseverance with that topic.
It is hard to do justice to Carl James’s numerous great qualities. There are many words that come to mind – for example, well-informed, inspiring, generous, empathetic, constructive, critical, kind and entertaining. Those fortunate enough to have been taught by Carl have so often praised his teaching sessions as being at the forefront of his discipline, challenging, enjoyable, and delivered with energy, clarity, and never short of humour. And to those who aspired to be teachers themselves, he was a paragon of pedagogical expertise. His teaching has been much admired by many cohorts of students.
Whether taught by Carl or not, we have all enjoyed working with him. At ALA conferences, he brought quality research and engaging ideas that fired us off into new and promising directions. And he was always a fully participating listener when attending papers presented by others, asking insightful questions, offering helpful suggestions, and greatly enlivening the discussion. If you were presenting a paper, it was always great to have Carl in your audience.
Alongside all this, we have fond memories of his sense of humour, his witty comments, amusing anecdotes, his sense of irony, and at times absurdity too. There are too many stories to mention more than one or two here of course. Carl came from a solid working-class family in Derby, and he used to like to tell us about how, after he’d started his job lecturing at Bangor, he would sometimes go home to Derby to visit his parents and his father would always ask him ‘When are you going to get a proper job, Carl?’ Apparently also, in these early days in Bangor, Carl had a brief dalliance with being a sailor and bought a boat for sailing in the waters of the Menai Strait. Sadly (perhaps), this did not last too long as a great storm came along and swept the boat away one day and it was washed along down the coast on the beach of neighbouring Llandudno (we think). Fortunately, Carl was not in it at the time, and also fortunately, he hadn’t given up his day job.
We take comfort in the fact that, in one sense at least, Carl will live on as future students read, appreciate and are influenced by his work, even if they will not be fortunate enough to meet him and benefit from his engagement with their work.
We feel lucky to have known him, lucky to have enjoyed time with him, and lucky to have enjoyed his immense wisdom and wit. We will remember Carl as an intelligent, kind and jovial man.
All of us appreciated the way he went out of his way to make new members feel welcome in our Association. At the recent ALA conferences, which he has been unable to attend, he has been sorely missed.
Our sympathy goes out to his wife Beti, his daughter Deborah, his granddaughter Alys and and his brother George.
Carl James will never be forgotten!
Peter Garrett, Josep Maria Cots, Claudia Finkbeiner, Joanna White, Richard Aplin, Andrea Young & Agneta Svalberg on behalf of the Association for Language Awareness & Phil Scholfield
Special Conference Issue of the Journal Language Awareness
As is customary, a special issue of the journal Language Awareness is planned that will showcase outstanding papers presented at the 13th International Conference of the Association for Language Awareness. The special issue will be published in 2018. Presenters at ALA 2016 are invited to submit their papers by January 31st, 2017.
The 14th International Conference of the Association for Language Awareness will take place in 2018. The venue and title of the conference will shortly be announced.
The Association for Language Awareness Committee decided unanimously to acknowledge Richard Aplin’s strong commitment, highly valuable contributions and important work for the Association for Language Awareness by making him an honorary member. This category of membership is reserved for members of the Association or other persons who have given meritorious service to the association and to the advancement of language awareness. After Eric Hawkins and Carl James, Richard Aplin is the third honorary member of our association.