Charles Albert Ferguson (July 6, 1921 – September 2, 1998) was an
American linguist who taught at Stanford University. He was one of the
founders of sociolinguistics and is best known for his work on
diglossia. The TOEFL test was created under his leadership at the
Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. Ferguson was also
the leader of a team of linguists in Ethiopia under the Ford
Foundation's Survey of Language Use and Language Teaching. One of the
many publications that came out of this was his article proposing the
Ethiopian Language Area (Ferguson 1976), an article that has become
widely cited and an important milestone in the study of contact
Ferguson is also widely noted for his seminal article on diglossia,
published in 1959 and (reprinted since then in other publications) and
frequently cited by others, listed by Google Scholar as having been
cited over 4,000 times.
He was honored with a two-volume collection of papers in a 1986
festschrift, edited by Joshua A. Fishman and others.
Life and education
Charles Albert Ferguson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in
1921. He had an early curiosity for language, system, and order which
led him to explore foreign languages through Oriental Studies at the
University of Pennsylvania (BA 1942, MA 1943 with a thesis on the
Moroccan Arabic Verb; PhD 1945 with a dissertation on Standard
^ Google Scholar entry
^ "Memorial resolution: Charles A. Ferguson (1921-1998)", Stanford
University news, Stanford Report, May 19, 1999
Ferguson, Charles A. 1959. Diglossia. Word 15: 325-340.
Ferguson, Charles. 1976. The Ethiopian Language Area. Language In
Ethiopia, ed. by M. Lionel Bender, J. Donald Bowen, R.L. Cooper,
Charles A. Ferguson, pp. 63–76. Oxford: Oxford University
Fishman, Joshua. 2000. "Obituary: Charles A. Ferguson, 1921-1998: An
Appreciation," Journal of Sociolinguistics 4/1: 121-128.
Fishman, Joshua, et al., eds. 1986. The Fergusonian impact: in honor
of Charles A. Ferguson on the occasion of his 65th birthday.
(Contributions to the sociology of language, 42.) Berlin: Mouton de
Huebner, Thom. 1999. "Obituary Charles Albert Ferguson". Language in
Society 28: 431-437.
ISNI: 0000 0001 0931 6835
BNF: cb123053480 (data)
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