April 14, 1925–December 11, 1997


ROGER BROWN COMBINED a remarkably creative mind, natural gentleness, and a passion for language into a persona marked by generosity, unfeigned humility, and a dazzling writing talent. Although he was the father of developmental psycholinguistics—Roger's students dominate this domain of inquiry—he moved away from the brightest spot on the stage to share credit with his students in order to promote their young careers. The title of his chair, "The John Lindsley Professor of Psychology in the memory of William James," was especially apt for a psychologist who probed the subjective frame with a sureness that reflected his faith in the validity of personal experience as a primary source of evidence. There is the hint of a paradox in Roger's wariness of Platonic abstractions that floated too far from their evidential origins. Roger loved language, but he distrusted words.

It is certain that biographers are most likely to select his summary of the first stage of the acquisition of English as his seminal work, while simultaneously praising his ability to attract so many bright scholars to the study of language development. Yet, his first teaching assignment in 1952 was as a social psychologist at Harvard University. Roger had

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