Vivian Cook had an infectious enthusiasm, a welcoming attitude to everybody, always provided constructive criticism and he was a truly original thinker. He was also incredibly well read: I’ve sat next to him at EUROSLA conferences where he regularly grumbled that the speaker had failed to mention the study of X (1966) or Z (1994) that I had never heard of. The concept of “multi-competence” is truly excellent to explain changing patterns in multilinguals’ use of languages, dynamic values and behaviours linked to acculturation. He will be sorely missed!
Professor Vivian Cook I know
I got to know Professor Vivian Cook in person when he came to work at Newcastle University. He was not only a worldwide well-known professor in applied linguistics and second language acquisition field, but also a walking encyclopaedia. He never stopped exploring new things and was always at the forefront. He was among the first group of academics who had their personal webpage. Vivian’s webpage contains theories, key readings and research tools, a rich resource for teaching and research in second language. His websites have benefited students and researchers all over the world. Vivian was very down-to-earth despite his fame. He was very approachable and cared for his students. He initiated study groups, exploring topics nominated by PhD students. He would say, ‘Nobody doing it does not necessarily mean it is worth researching it.’ I learned a lot from Vivian in terms of being an academic. Vivian also introduced me to appreciate different kinds of jazz. It was the trip to Perugia with Vivian and Pam for the Jazz festival got me hooked with Jazz ever since. In the past few years, Vivian’s breath problems was getting worse, but he never stopped writing. Every time I rang, he would talk about his progress of writing. Whenever I am thinking of Vivian, is a man with white electric shocked hair, a bright colourful jumper, a pair of long and loose trousers, and a pair of yellow or red crocs. A real character! It is a great honour to know and be able to work with Vivian. His passaway is a huge loss to the second language research world, but his contributions to the theories and practice will influence teachers and researchers of this generation and generations to come.
A colleague and a friend
20 Dec 2021
It seems impossible that Viv is gone. Others will speak eloquently of his tremendous influence on the study of SLA, Applied linguistics, and his role as founding father of Eurosla. But at this moment I think more of the man who was erudite and a razor-sharp thinker while also being kind, intellectually generous, and funny. These are rare qualities in the same individual. Viv was all these things in abundance. I shall miss him very much.
Vivian James Cook taught me the most entertaining fascinating and enthralling interesting facts from the age of three and a half to twelve years old as I had refused to let him read me a bedtime story. It supplemented my own reading which had started with Ramona the Pest and via the route of the available books in the house was Gogol at the time the interesting facts ended.
Topics ranging from ley lines to Elvis and facts which turned out to be theories later disproved led me to question the very nature of the notion of fact.
The jazz concerts so constant in my life, Ornette Coleman, Mike Osborne and all things elsewhere in that free world were my childhood toys. Abdullah Ibrahim and Dudu Pukwana all these and our ultimate experience the Last Exit concert in London when I was sixteen years old. That year I was inspired on by these wonders to begin studying avant garde and experimental music. I was on the radio with a song of mine four days before he died.
I texted him to tell him about it and he simply replied “cool”.
Every night he sent me a text that said
” night night love Dad x “
All I can say to finish these memories of Vivian James Cook is….
Night night XNick
It is with great sadness I heard of Viv’s death shortly before Christmas. He has been a guiding light throughout my career of over 30 years. He was in the audience at my very first academic paper in the 80s, and in what I came to know as his typical unassuming and warm manner, he came to discuss my research at the end of my talk. As always, he was insightful, sharp, and full of constructive and original ideas.
Over the years, he has made a huge contribution to our field: not only by his highly innovative and original research, his immensely generous mentoring of numerous junior researchers, but also by his contribution to our discipline’s infrastructure. He founded EuroSLA (European Second Language Association) in 1989 to give a platform for discussion for research this side of the Atlantic, and it has gone from strength to strength since then.
Not only was he a prolific writer and original thinker, making many invaluable contributions to our field, but he also played an important part in making different areas of linguistics accessible to the general public.
His legacy is immeasurable, and he will be sadly missed.
I am sad beyond words and can hardly believe that Vivian Cook is no longer with us in person. When I came to Newcastle in 2006 to take up my studies, I was just hoping to be able to hear his lectures – I could hardly believe my luck when he agreed to be my PhD supervisor. Writers before me have talked about his eloquence, his wit, his wealth of knowledge and rightly so. In my memory this ground-breaking, wise language expert first and foremost will exist as a deeply human being. Each of us who had been on a PhD journey knows that there are quite a few depressed and depressing lows to live through. Vivian Cook always managed to bring hope into these lows, and when I thanked him for that, he just said, ‘That’s our job’. I very much hope I will be able to do a fraction of this for my own students. Thank goodness he was such a prolific writer – so his very personal presence can be with us for longer.
You took my wife and me on a Colchester sightseeing drive in your favourite little Peugeot. We had a good, but a little bit scary memory of you driving as you kept pointing to the ramparts where Humpty Dumpty used to sit. Pam greeted us at the door with a smile. I recall our delightful afternoon tea conversation
that day. I wonder who will take care of the frogs in the small Wabi-Sabi garden pond in your Maldon Road home which holds so many good memories. I know you must be busy continuing research even today in heaven. Please add me as a co-author when we meet again.
Don’t work too hard, Vivian.