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Geoffrey K. Pullum : biography

March 8, 1945 -

Geoffrey Keith "Geoff" Pullum ( born March 8, 1945 in Irvine, Scotland) is a British-American linguist specialising in the study of English. , he is Professor of General Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh.

Pullum is a co-author of The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (2002), a comprehensive descriptive grammar of English. He is also a regular contributor to Language Log, a collaborative linguistics weblog.

In 2000, he published a proof of the Turing Halting Problem in the style of Dr. Seuss. Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2000) “Scooping the loop snooper: An elementary proof of the undecidability of the halting problem.” Mathematics Magazine 73.4 (October 2000), 319-320


Geoffrey K. Pullum was born in Irvine, Scotland, on 8 March 1945, and moved to West Wickham, England, while very young. He left secondary school early at age 16, and he toured Germany as a pianist in the rock and roll band Sonny Stewart and the Dynamos. A year and a half later, he came back to England and joined a soul band, Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band.

After his band disbanded, Pullum enrolled in the University of York in 1968, graduating in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts with first class honours. In 1976 he completed a PhD in Linguistics at University College London.

Pullum left Britain in 1980, taking visiting positions at the University of Washington and Stanford University. In 1987, he became a United States citizen. He worked at the University of California, Santa Cruz from 1981 to 2007.

In 2002, Pullum co-authored The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language with Rodney Huddleston and other linguists, which won the Leonard Bloomfield Book Award of the Linguistic Society of America in 2004.

In 2007, he moved to the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh, where he currently is Professor of General Linguistics and Head of Linguistics and English Language.

Pullum is also a frequent contributor to the blog Language Log upon which he can often be found arguing for linguistic descriptivism.

Selected publications

  • Gazdar, Gerald; Klein, Ewan; Pullum, Geoffrey K.; and Sag, Ivan A. (1985). Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar. Basil Blackwell, Oxford. ISBN 0-631-13206-6
  • Pullum, Geoffrey K. (1991). The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax and Other Irreverent Essays on the Study of Language, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-68534-9. (See also Eskimo words for snow)
  • Pullum, Geoffrey K. and Ladusaw, William A. (1996). Phonetic Symbol Guide, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-68535-7
  • Huddleston, Rodney D. and Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43146-8
  • Huddleston, Rodney D. and Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2005). A Student's Introduction to English Grammar, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-61288-8
  • Liberman, Mark and Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2006). Far from the Madding Gerund and Other Dispatches from the Language Log, William, James & Company. ISBN 1-59028-055-5

An of linguistics-related publications by Pullum is available on his website.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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