Allan Metcalf, 1940-2022

Allan MetcalfIt is with great sadness that we mark the passing of our friend and colleague Allan Metcalf. Allan was the executive secretary of the American Dialect Society for 37 years until retiring in 2018. He was also the author of eight popular books on language, including OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word and From Skedaddle to Selfie: Words of the Generations. Among his lasting impacts, besides shepherding this society and its members through the decades and his founding of the society’s words-of-the-year event, was setting an example of openness in welcoming newcomers to linguistics and sociolinguistics, whether they be students, amateurs, schoolteachers, or fellow scholars. His kindness and gentle insistence could keep rooms full of joke- and tangent-prone linguists on track, and as a public face of the field of linguistics, he was professional, well-spoken, and expert.

For more about his work, books, and career, see his personal website.

An obituary written by his family has information about his life and a memorial to be held June 19, 2022.

The Springfield, Illinois, State Journal-Register has posted a remembrance. On his blog, editor Jack Limbert has collected comments and thoughts about Allan.