Donald Laycock (1936–1988) was an Australian linguist and anthropologist. He is best remembered for his work on the languages of Papua New Guinea
He was a graduate of University of Newcastle
, New South Wales, Australia and later worked as a researcher at the University of Adelaide
. He undertook his Ph.D. at the Australian National University
in linguistics and became a world authority on the languages of Papua New Guinea
He performed several pioneering surveys of the languages of the Sepik
region of New Guinea
. The first of these, his Ph.D. research under the supervision of Stephen Wurm
, was published as ''The Ndu languages'' (1965), and established the existence of this closely related group of languages. In subsequent surveys, Laycock found the Ndu languages
were part of a larger language family extending through the middle and upper Sepik valley (the "Sepik subphylum"), and in 1973 he proposed that these languages formed part of a Sepik–Ramu phylum
. This remained the general consensus in the linguistic world for over 30 years. While more recent work by William A. Foley
and Malcolm Ross
has cast doubt on a link between the Ramu – Lower Sepik languages
and the Sepik languages
, the "Sepik subphylum" seems established as a genuine group.
Laycock also first identified the Torricelli
(1968) and Piawi
groups of languages. He published numerous papers in linguistics and anthropology.
He was described by his fellow authors of ''Skeptical'' (David Vernon
, Dr Colin Groves
and Simon Brown
) as a 20th-century 'Renaissance Man' as his interests were wide-ranging from Melanesian languages, to channelling
, Tarot cards
and bawdy songs
He was a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (FAHA), Vice President of the Australian Linguistic Society (ALS) and a member of Mensa
. A keen member of the Australian Skeptics
he entertained many people at Skeptic's conventions with his demonstrations of glossolalia
and going into trances. After his death, Laycock's meticulous work on the Enochian
'language' (which was allegedly channelled to an associate of the Elizabethan mystic John Dee
) was turned by a colleague into one of the very few classics of skeptical linguistics.
He died, after a short illness, in Canberra
, on 27 December 1988.
* Kwomtari–Baibai languages
* Ndu languages
* Papuan languages
* Piawi languages
* Sepik languages
* Sepik–Ramu languages
* Torricelli languages
* Stephen Wurm
* ''The Ndu language family (Sepik District, New Guinea)''. Pacific Linguistics C-1. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 1965.
* "Languages of the Lumi subdistrict (West Sepik district), New Guinea." ''Oceanic Linguistics'' 7: 36-66. 1968.
* ''Sepik languages - checklist and preliminary classification''. Pacific Linguistics B-25. Canberra, 1973.
* (with John Z'graggen
) "The Sepik–Ramu phylum." In: Stephen A. Wurm, ed. ''Papuan languages and the New Guinea linguistic scene: New Guinea area languages and language study 1''. Pacific Linguistics C-38. 731-763. Canberra, 1975.
* ''The Complete Enochian Dictionary: A Dictionary of the Angelic Language as Revealed to Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley'', London: Askin Publishers. 1978
* ''The Best Bawdry'', Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1982
* ''The World's Best Dirty Songs'', Angus & Robertson, North Ryde, 1987,
* (with Alice Buffet) ''Speak Norfuk Today'', Norfolk Island, 1988
* ''Skeptical'' Eds. Don Laycock, David Vernon
, Colin Groves
, Simon Brown
, Canberra Skeptics
* ''A Dictionary of Buin, a language of Bougainville'', ed. Masayuki Onishi (Pacific Linguistics 537, 2003)--published posthumously. .
* ''The Skeptic'', Vol 19, No 1, p7
* ''The Second Coming'', Barry Williams, Australian Skeptics, Sydney, 1990
* ''Aspects of meaning in fieldwork'', in Tom Dutton, Malcolm Ross
and Darrell Tryon
(eds)The language game: Papers in memory of Don C. Laycock
Pacific Linguistics, C 110, 22 pp., Canberra: ANU, 1993
Category:Linguists from Australia
Category:Linguists of Papuan languages
Category:Fellows of the Australian Academy of the Humanities
Category:Australian National University alumni
Category:Place of birth missing
Category:Linguists of Sepik languages
Category:Linguists of Torricelli languages
Category:Linguists of South Bougainville languages
Category:Linguists of Norfuk