W. E. Jones

Bill Jones (1919 -1978) was a Yorkshireman. He had his schooling at Doncaster and after teacher-training at York and war service in the Royal Navy read English at Leeds. He followed his B.A. with an M.A. in the same department which took the form of a study on 'The definite article in living Yorkshire dialect' published in Leeds Studies in English and Kindred Languages in 1952.

He spent the 1950s as Lecturer in Phonetics in London at the School of Oriental and African Studies. His war-period service had taken him to India and given him an abiding interest in several of the sub-continent's languages. It had also given him a knowledge of electronics which served as a background to his special interests in the phonetics laboratory at Edinburgh where he moved in 1961, becoming Senior Lecturer in Phonetics there in 1964. In that year he underwent a serious operation for a kidney complaint which had troubled him for some time. His health had been much improved for six years until he was cruelly afflicted with a paralysing stroke in the summer of 1970.

Even his speech had been affected. He had to rehabilitate it from a condition of dysphasia and aphonia which he turned characteristically to account in a paper published in 1972 in the British Journal of Disorders of Communication. Many of his friends and colleagues will recall his bravely cheerful appearance at Leeds in 1975 at the Eighth International Congress of Phonetic Sciences in a wheelchair with the staunch support of his wife Joyce and one of their sons. He fought back courageously to keep his teaching going in such forms as he could manage and he even seemed to write more than he had ever done before.

He had previously published some articles and a few thoughtful, generous reviews mostly in JIPA (the Journal of the International Phonetic Association). He now edited (with John Laver) the excellent selection of articles Phonetics in Linguistlcs (1973) and contributed two articles on Hindi to to JIPA (published in 1971 and 1973) and worked at a scheme which developed from a projected Hindi phonetic reader into a full-blown thesis, presented shortly before his death, on Accent and Intonation in Hindi for which he was awarded a doctorate posthumously. This was work he did while in his last years only kept alive by dialysis.

Bill Jones will no doubt best be remembered for his outstandingly likeable personality. What he enjoyed most was human intercourse. He was the most companionable and convivial of friends and colleagues. He was the most sympathetic and helpful of teachers. His good-natured friendliness will be remembered not only by his colleagues and students in phonetics but also by all his pupils on courses, abroad and in this country, for teachers of English as a foreign language. He took immense pleasure in that side of his work particularly in the British Council London Summer School 'The Teaching of Spoken English' he set up and ran for eight years (1962-9).

His interests were wide. He loved music. He could keep a singsong going indefinitely from the piano. He enjoyed reading. He had been a very capable cricketer. He was a delightful raconteur, He was one of the nicest fellows you could possibly meet. His was a great loss to the fellowship of phoneticians.