James R Hurford Back to
Born 1941, Reading, England.
Married 1964, to Sue Ann Davis,
Eve Hurford (b.1971, d.2013), who was a
video and slide installation artist working in Berlin
(b.1980), who, after completing a Masters in Epidemiology at
State University, works for the Alzheimers Disease Cooperative Study.
1950 - 1960 Exeter School, Exeter.
1960 - 1963 St John's College, Cambridge, reading Modern and Medieval
Languages (French and German). Graduated 1963, with a B.A. (2.i).
1964 - 1967 Department of Phonetics, University College, London.
Graduated 1967 with University of London PhD. Thesis title: `The Speech of One Family: a
phonetic comparison of the speech of three generations in a family of
1963 - 1964 Associate, Department of Germanic Languages, UCLA, teaching
elementary and intermediate German.
1967 - 1968 Postdoctoral Research Fellow,
Corporation, Santa Monica, California. (Researching early automatic
question-answering systems, e.g. Protosynthex.)
1968 - 1971 Assistant Professor, Department of English,
California at Davis.
1972 - 1979 Lecturer and Senior Lecturer, Department of Linguistics and
Modern English Language, University of Lancaster.
1979 - 2007 Professor of General Linguistics, University of
1975 The Linguistic Theory of Numerals, Cambridge University
1983 (with Brendan Heasley)
Semantics: a Coursebook, Cambridge
University Press. 2nd edition, with Brendan Heasley and Michael Smith,
Number: the emergence of a cognitive system,
Basil Blackwell, Oxford.
Student's Guide, Cambridge University Press.
1998 (edited with Michael Studdert-Kennedy and Chris Knight)
Approaches to the Evolution of Language: social and cognitive bases,
Cambridge University Press.
2000 (edited with Chris Knight and Michael Studdert-Kennedy) The
Evolutionary Emergence of Language: Social function and the origins of
linguistic form, Cambridge University Press.
2007 The Origins of Meaning, Oxford
2011 The Origins of Grammar, Oxford
2014 The Origins of
Language: A Slim Guide Oxford University Press.
Jim Hurford was trained as an articulatory phonetician, and has written
textbooks on semantics and grammar, two books of numeral systems and three
books on the origins and evolution of language, beside articles and book
chapters on phonetics, syntax, phonology, language acquisition and
pragmatics. He has a broad interest in reconciling various traditions in
Linguistics which have tended to conflict. His work is interdisciplinary,
based in linguistics, but reaching out to, and taking insights and data
from, anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, genetics, artificial
intelligence and philosophy. His work brings together the work of formal
linguists who study words and sentences out of their communicative
context, psycholinguists and neuroscientists who study the brain processes
underlying language use, and anthropologists and sociolinguists who
emphasize how language is embedded in social groups. He has worked on
articulating frameworks in which representations of languages in
individual minds interact with properties of languages used in
communities. These frameworks emphasize the interaction of evolution,
learning and communication. Early work focussed on the properties of
numeral systems, and this broadened out to the topic of the evolution of
language, in all senses of that phrase. He produced some of the earliest
computer simulations of aspects of the evolution of language.
Jim Hurford was elected to the British
Academy in 2015.