Evelyn Todd

Malcolm Ross malcolm.ross at ANU.EDU.AU
Mon Sep 1 23:53:09 UTC 2008

Colleagues working on Pacific languages will be sad to hear of the  
death of Professor Evelyn Todd, who passed away in her home town,  
Peterborough, Ontario, on 12th March after a series of heart attacks  
and strokes.

Evelyn joined the Department of Anthropology at Trent University,  
Ontario, as an  Assistant Professor of Anthropology on 1st July 1968,  
received her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  
in 1970, and remained on the staff at Trent until her retirement on  
1st July 1999, by which time she was a full professor.

Evelyn did pioneer work on the languages of the central and western  
Solomons and Bougainvill̋e. She contributed a chapter on the Papuan  
languages of the Solomons to S.A. Wurm's massive 1975 *New Guinea area  
languages and language study* at a time when she was probably the only  
person who could have made such a contribution. In 1978 she published  
two major articles in the Proceedings of the Second International  
Conference on Austronesian Linguistics. The first was on Roviana  
syntax, and drew attention to the fact that Roviana was syntactically  
unlike all then known Oceanic languages. The other was a grammar  
sketch of Nissan (Nehan), the language of a small island midway  
between Buka Island and New Ireland, which remains the only published  
description of this language. Among other the material in it provides  
information crucial to our understanding of the history of the  
languages of north Bougainville and Buka. In 1980 she published a  
short paper on Qae, an Oceanic language of Guadalcanal, and its  

Evelyn spent the second half of 1998 in the Department of Linguistics  
of the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian  
National University. At that time, her passion was the Papuan language  
Savosavo, a member of the Solomons language family, of which she was  
working on a grammar and a dictionary. Sadly, she was overtaken by ill  
health before this work could be completed.

Languages of the southwest Pacific were just one of Evelyn's  
interests. She also worked on indigenous Canadian languages,  
particularly Ojibwa.

We regret the delay in announcing Evelyn's passing, but even in the  
age of the internet, some pieces of news travel at a Melanesian pace.

- Malcolm Ross

Emeritus Professor Malcolm Ross
Department of Linguistics
Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies
Building No. 9, The Australian National University
CANBERRA A.C.T. 0200, Australia

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