Distinguished linguist Ruqaiya Hasan dies
With great sorrow we announce that eminent semanticist and sociolinguist Ruqaiya Hasan has died.
For Ruqaiya Hasan, who will be greatly missed by the academic world of Linguistics, language was a mental tool built out of an intricate system of co-dependent choices. As a system of choices in how to mean, language carried with it the realisation of a given society's culture and history. Her thought was shaped after and with her life’s partner –one of the most important linguists of our times– M.A.K Halliday.
Hasan, more directly than any other scholar, brought out in detail how cultural context and grammatical patterns were interwoven. This work also led to empirical research on semantic variation – how groups within "the same" language community gave different weighting to cultural values like individuation and what counted as sufficient reasons. Uncomfortably for many academics, these variations were related statistically to two differences in how mothers talk to children. These differences were the gender of the child and the social autonomy of the family –a measure of social class. Hasan concluded that different social classes have different "ways of meaning", in that they frame their questions, answers, requests and explanations according to different assumptions about the world. Such differences had profound consequences for schooling.