Darrell Tryon

Alex Francois francois at VJF.CNRS.FR
Thu May 16 09:58:12 UTC 2013

Like many of us here, I am shocked by the sudden news about Darrell Tryon.

Darrell was one of the pioneers of Vanuatu linguistics.
When the next generation began working in Vanuatu, his
was the only source of data for most languages, and in some parts of
the archipelago this remains true today. Many years later, he would tell me
his memories of fieldwork in various islands of the then New Hebrides.
I've been recently inspired by his insights on dialect chaining and social
networks in Vanuatu (Tryon

After his 1976 book, Darrell later published another massive work on the
languages of the Solomon Islands (Tryon & Hackman
On the occasion of working in the Solomons, he was especially intrigued in
the Santa Cruz archipelago: his publications (his “Eastern Outer
are still today the main source of our knowledge on the remote languages of
Vanikoro and Utupua.

Darrell published also on Bislama – whether in the form of a teach-yourself
or of scholarly publications on its historical origins (Tryon & Charpentier

He was the (co)editor of a number of important publications on Pacific
languages and cultures. This includes the massive Comparative Austronesian
edited in 1995, but also Language
contact and change in the Austronesian world
The Austronesians<http://books.google.fr/books?id=9uyuHAXBuRkC&lpg=PP1&hl=fr&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q&f=false>(1995);
of Languages of Intercultural Communication in the Pacific, Asia, and the
the beautiful Arts
of Vanuatu<http://books.google.fr/books?id=Lm9sq0RYOlYC&lpg=PP1&hl=fr&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false>(1996);
Boy from Bundaberg<http://books.google.fr/books/about/The_Boy_from_Bundaberg.html?id=XLFiAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y>(2001);
and just recently, Oceanic
Encounters <http://epress.anu.edu.au/titles/oceanic-encounters> (2009).

​he breadth of his i​
nterests and publications was impressive, and went
​well ​
beyond Vanuatu or the Solomons – including work on the languages of the
Loyalty Islands
on Tahitian<http://books.google.fr/books?id=PdqxF5KgZzIC&lpg=PR7&ots=EZ0FpEB9EA&dq=darrell%20tryon&lr&hl=fr&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false>,
Rapa Nui<http://books.google.fr/books/about/The_language_of_Easter_Island.html?id=Z9BkAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y>;
on Maranungku<http://www.amazon.com/introduction-Maranungku-Northern-Australia-Linguistics/dp/B0006C6XR6>and
​ the​
Daly languages<http://books.google.fr/books/about/Daly_family_languages_Australia.html?id=AFpxAAAAIAAJ&redir_esc=y>of
Northern Australia; and many
others <https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/tryon-dt#publications>.

On a more personal note, I have fond memories of the first weeks I ever
spent in Australia and Vanuatu, back in 1997.  Darrell was kind enough to
pick me up at Canberra airport and set things up for my first stay at the
ANU;  thanks to him I met Tom Dutton, Stephen Wurm, Malcolm Ross, Andy
Pawley – scholars who later played an important role in my life.  A week
later I was with Darrell again in Port Vila, as he was organising the
annual workshop of the Fieldworkers of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre. He was
always ready to drive me around, tell me the history of such and such
building in Port Vila, or teach me some words of Bislama I was then just
Even my first hours of fieldwork were spent with him: I became his field
assistant for a couple of days, collecting ethnobotanical vocabulary in a
few languages of southern Espiritu Santo – including the endangered Araki,
which was to become a longer story for me.  Darrell always had the right
tip and advice at the right moment, and was always kind with everyone.

I owe him a lot, and will miss his presence.


Alex François
LACITO-CNRS <http://lacito.vjf.cnrs.fr/membres/francois.htm>, France
Australian National
Personal homepage <http://alex.francois.free.fr>
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