Erik Fudge obituary

Erica Fudge
·2-min read

My father, Erik Fudge, a professor of linguistics and non-stipendiary priest, has died at the age of 86, having tested positive for Covid-19.

Following a PhD in linguistics at Cambridge University, a Fulbright scholarship took Erik to Indiana University in the US from 1963 to 1965, after which he was appointed lecturer in linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. In 1968 he took up a university lectureship in linguistics (phonetics) at Cambridge, and the family moved to Bar Hill on the outskirts of the city. When Dad became chair at the University of Hull in 1974, we moved to Hessle. He remained at Hull as head of the department of linguistics until 1988, before moving to the University of Reading as professor of linguistic science. Dad was the editor of the Journal of Linguistics (1977-82), and author of numerous papers and of the book English Word-Stress (1984). He retired from academia in 1999.

Born in Southampton to Herbert and Hilda (nee Lille), both schoolteachers, Dad attended Itchen grammar school. He was admitted to Cambridge University to read maths in 1952, but transferred to modern and medieval languages, graduating in 1955.

Having been demobbed in 1957, he took a PGCE at Southampton University and spent the next four years in that city teaching at St Denys junior school and then Moorhill secondary school. While out carol singing in Southampton on Christmas Eve 1957, he met Heather Hunter. They married two years later.

Dad became a lay reader in the Church of England in 1960, and fulfilled a long-held wish when he was ordained as a non-stipendiary priest in 1994. He continued to serve at St Sebastian’s church in Wokingham Without, Berkshire, where we moved to in 1988, until the week before his death.

An expert builder of intricate drainage networks on numerous sandy beaches while on holiday in Wales in the 1970s, Dad continued to dig on those same beaches in his role as grandpa. He had the loudest clap in the universe, which he enjoyed displaying at our annual pilgrimage to the Oval for day two of the Test match (it is by happy chance that on our last trip we saw Australia bowled out in less than a day). He was unlucky enough to always be dealt the worst hand possible in every card game he ever played; could write you directions off the top of his head from Wokingham to anywhere in the UK using only A and B roads; knew the age of every ancient bus he ever saw; could (and did) read The Goon Show scripts with all the voices; and whistled all the time, which meant you knew when he had stopped in the street to read a bus-stop timetable as the noise became faint.

He is survived by Heather, his children, Tim, Tessa and me, and his three grandsons, Osian, Oran and Macsen.