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Who was Frank Palmer?

Everyone at the Reading University has heard of the Palmer building in the centre of campus but few people really know the history of the man that it was named after.

Frank Palmer was born in 1922 and he passed away in 2019 at the age of 97. He was a British linguist who was instrumental in the development of the Department of Linguistic Science at the University of Reading.

He became a member of the British Army in 1940 and at the end of World War II Palmer became a member of the teaching staff at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

He then moved on to became a Professor of Linguistics at University CollegeBangor in 1960.

In 1965 he and a few colleagues moved to the University of Reading to establish the Department of Linguistic Science. He quickly raised the department to an international reputation.

In 1971 Palmer was appointed one of the Professorship Holders of the Linguistic Society of America and he retired in 1987.

During this time, he was an editor of the Journal of Linguistics from 1969 until 1979 where he worked with Sir John Lyons. The Journal of Linguistics is a peer reviewed journal that was first established in 1965.

He was also a member of the British academy Fellows which is a fellowship of around 1,400 national and academics who are appointed due to their academic distinction.

He published a number of books, a number of which are available in the library on the 3rd floor. To really get to grips with his research I would recommend reading ‘Grammar’ which was published in 1971.

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