From: Brian Migliazza <brian_migliazzasil.org>
Subject: Obituary of Len Newell - (1926-2008)
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We mourn the passing of our colleague and friend, Len Newell, who worked a
lifetime in the Philippines and contributed widely in the field of
lexicography. He died this past April 10th at the age of 82, in British
Columbia, Canada, after a brief struggle with cancer.
As a frequent contributor in lexicography, he was known not only in the
Philippines but also throughout Asia for his teaching and many
publications. Len was unaware that he had cancer and was planning a trip to
teach in the Philippines in April, before dying on April 10th. He was
publishing up until the end, with his last book in press for this year -
"Role relationships and lexical descriptions applied to Batad Ifugao."
Arriving in the Philippines in 1953, he began a lifelong relationship with
the Ifugao people of northern Luzon, and later with the
Romblomanon-speaking people of the central Philippines. Newell’s
publications included literacy materials, and landmark dictionaries in both
Ifugao and Romblomanon.
A convener of the First Asia International Lexicography Conference in
Manila in 1992, Len Newell believed that the best representation of the
‘heart’ of a language is a good dictionary. Newell’s 1993 seminal 7,500
word Ifugao–English main entry / 16,000 word Ifugao–English index "Batad
Ifugao Dictionary with Ethnographic Notes" (Linguistic Society of the
Philippines [LSP] Special Monograph Issue, 33) received wide acclaim as a
landmark volume in the field of lexicography. "A magnificent dictionary of
exceptional linguistic and anthropological value...a rare gem...advances
greatly the standards of lexicographic research," wrote Yale University’s
Dr. Harold C. Conklin in the foreword.
Len Newell was born in 1926 in Alberta, Canada, and received his MA in
Southeast Asia Studies from Yale University in 1967. In 1993 he earned a
Doctor of Arts degree in Language and Literature from De La Salle
University, Manila, Philippines. His dissertation in the field led to the
publication of the 1995 "Handbook on Lexicography" (LSP Special Monograph
Following his work in Ifugao, Newell began research in a language community
at the center of the Philippine archipelago. His 853-page "Romblomanon
Dictionary" (LSP Special Monograph Issue, 52; including a phonology and
grammar and 24 appendices) was published in 2006. Recent and forthcoming
publications include "Bridging Cultures with a Bilingual Dictionary" in
Current Issues in Philippine Linguistics and Anthropology: Parangal kay
Lawrence A. Reid. (Liao and Rubino, LSP and SIL, 2005, pp. 211–213) and
"Role Relationships and Lexical Descriptions Applied to Batad Ifugao", in
press (LSP Special Monograph Issue, 55).
Len Newell’s life embodied a philosophy of professionalism and high
scholarly standards in applied linguistics, translation, and language
development. Newell explains in his 2006 preface, "Literature provides the
opportunity for a linguistic community to record and share its knowledge
and culture with the world, and also opens a window to share the wisdom and
enjoyment of other cultures."
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