Dr. Robert F. Dakin, co-founder of the Department of Linguistics with Dr. Gil Schneider (1920-1999), passed away on May 4th, 2017 at the age of 97. Widely known at OHIO as the founder and first Director of OPIE in 1967, he also played a major role not only in establishing the Department of Linguistics in 1970, but as its first Chair, he was also instrumental in developing the department’s mission and core curriculum as an Applied Linguistics Program. We in the Department of Linguistics want to express our deepest sympathies to the Dakin family for their loss, and wish to acknowledge again (see below) Dr. Dakin’s place in the history of our department.
With great respect, admiration, and appreciation – Dr. Dakin, Rest in Peace.
Christopher S. Thompson
Chair, Department of Linguistics
On May 4th, 2010, the Department of Linguistics celebrated its 40th Anniversary during which a special colloquium was held entitled, “The Founding and Mission of Linguistics and OPIE.” The featured speaker was Dr. Robert Dakin. Photos from this special event appear below.
Link to colloquium program, “The Founding and Mission of Linguistics and OPIE”, can be seen here.
For more information about Dr. Dakin’s Memorial Service, please click here.
For more information about Dr. Dakin, please visit the OPIE website here.
Robert F. Dakin completed his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Michigan in 1966. The Dialect Vocabulary of the Ohio River Valley; a survey of the distribution of selected vocabulary forms in an area of complex settlement history (3 vols.) outlined the competing dialect forms in a valley populated by New Englanders, Pennsylvanians, and Virginians in the 18th century. The result, he claimed, was an area participating in a “trans-Appalachian” variety of American English distinctive yet today. Examining 200 words and grammatical structures from 200 local residents interviewed for the Linguistic Atlas of the North Central States (LANCS), originally under the directorship of the late Albert H. Marckwardt, the work is still considered seminal in variation studies. Michael Montgomery, a scholar of Appalachian English and the editor of the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English (2004), wrote “I have 148 quotations from his dissertation in my dictionary, a very valuable harvest” (p.c.), evidencing again the connection of our region with the general South Midland/Appalachian dialect area. Bob was honored for his work at a conference held at The Ohio State University in 2001 focusing on Language Diversity in Michigan and Ohio, his two “home” states. (The conference papers were published under this title in 2005.) The photo on this page, of Bob and his wife Elizabeth, was taken at that conference.
When Dr. Dakin came to Ohio University in 1967, he founded the Ohio Program of Intensive English, first in the English Department until moving it to the newly established Department of Linguistics, founded with Dr. Gilbert Schneider in 1970. In his introduction to Bob at the 40th anniversary celebration of the department’s founding, Dr. Richard McGinn said: “To our great good fortune, Bob’s knowledge and skills in linguistics, Ohio dialect geography, and ESL teaching made him highly attractive to Ohio University. In 1967 Bob and his beloved wife, Elizabeth, moved to Athens for the express purpose of helping to found a new Department of Linguistics and a sister OPIE program. The way I heard the story, both new programs were needed to support President Vernon Alden’s goal of making Ohio University a major venue for International Studies, with particular emphasis on three missions: language research; teaching Americans about Africa, Asia and Latin America; and teaching English to students from around the world wishing to obtain an academic degree from an American university. The young Bob Dakin of Michigan was hired to make it all happen from the standpoint of language learning, teaching, and research.” We owe much of our success in the past 50 years to his visionary efforts in all three domains.
Beverly Olson Flanigan
Associate Professor Emerita
Department of Linguistics