I am thrilled to announce that “The Catford Tapes: Professor Catford’s Life in Linguistics” are now available to the world. This is a very happy day for me.
The Catford Tapes are a series of eight one-hour lectures given by Ian Catford in early 1985, on the occasion of his retirement from the University of Michigan Linguistics Department. For anyone with an interest in linguistics, from theoretical to applied, from English to Kabardian, from grammar to phonetics, from Henry Sweet to … well, to Ian Catford, these lectures make clear just how fascinating and remarkably broad Professor Catford’s life in linguistics has been. You can read the background and history of the Catford Tapes below.
You can find videos of the lectures at Deep Blue, the University of Michigan’s service providing access to work in research and teaching:
Lecture 1, February 7, 1985:
Lecture 2, February 14, 1985:
Lecture 3, February 21, 1985:
Lecture 4, March 7, 1985:
Lecture 5, March 14, 1985:
Lecture 6, March 28, 1985:
Lecture 7, April 4, 1985:
Lecture 8, April 18, 1985:
or simply go to Deep Blue’s home page ( http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/ ) and search for “catford”
By the way, as I understand it, this is the first instance of Bentley material being hosted by Deep Blue.
My deepest thanks go to all the following for freely giving their time, advice and effort to promote the project of preserving this treasure and making it freely accessible.
- Ian Catford, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, University of Michigan
- John Swales, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Director Emeritus, English Language Institute
- Fran Blouin, Director, Bentley Historical Library, Professor of Information and Professor of History
- Jim Otaviani, Coordinator Deep Blue
- Tom Bray, Managing Producer Media Resources, Digital Media Commons and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art, School of Art and Design
- Greg Kinney and Brian Williams, Associate Archivists, Bentley Historical Library
- Nancy Deromedi, Assistant Archivist, Bentley Historical Library
- David Erdody, Media Development/Services, English Language Institute
Background / History
In 2002, the Catford Tapes had been stored for nearly 20 years at the University of Michigan but it was unclear exactly where and whether anyone was actually benefiting from the fascinating content and story-telling therein. Making sure that the lectures were not lost to obscurity or to failing media or to technology change was important, and so the mission was to have the tapes archived somewhere, somehow, and made available to a larger audience.
The original eight VHS tapes were not, as one might have expected, at the Linguistics Department, but rather at the English Language Institute Library. They were finally found in a cardboard box at the old, about-to-be-demolished NUBS building the very week that the ELI was in upheaval, getting ready to move to its new location. I was given permission to take the original tapes with the intent to more properly archive them. I contacted Greg Kinney at the Bentley Historical Library of the University and Tom Bray for technical advice and help.
The VHS tapes had not been viewed in 17 years but fortunately transfered to digital tapes easily. These masters then became the basis for other derivatives: other digital tape formats, tapes edited with introductory titles, eventually mpeg files and DVDs. Masters, DVDs and the original accompanying handouts, obtained from Professor Catford himself, were accessioned by the Bentley. All along I was supported by John Swales and the folks from the Bentley.
Two missions are better than one. The next step was to see who might host web-accessible versions of the videos. Jim Ottaviani helped coordinate with the Bentley and the ELI to arrange rights sign offs and got downloadable and streaming versions of the lectures into Deep Blue. And here we are today. Follow the links above.