In Memory

Robert B Rardin II

Robert B Rardin II

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05/26/17 09:21 AM #1    

Stephen Maurer

I had a lot of interesting talks about language with Bob. I remember a freshman meal conversation about whether some languages were better for poetry.  I proposed that French was especially good, with its melifluous soft sounds. He vehemently objected that Russian was much better, since it was capable of being either harsh or soft.

On another occasion we talked about regional American accents, and I proposed as a test word "cream cheese" because I knew in some places the first word was heavily accented, and in others both words got equal stress. He immediately pointed out that where he came from (Ohio?) the strong stress was on the 2nd word! Try "cream cheese" in a sentence and see how you say it.

A year or so after graduation I saw him once in Boston (I think he was a ling grad student at MIT) and he showed me a page (perhaps written by Chomsky)  illustrating various interesting features of English usage with all the example sentences damning and scurrilous statements about the US leaders dragging us through the Vietnam war.

I gather Bob suffered from depression and angst about his sexual preferences , but I don't think I knew anything about that at the time.


06/03/17 04:19 PM #2    

Mark Sherkow

Bob was my best friend at Swarthmore.  He was one of the stars of the swimming team, which I also was on, and I think he was co-captain our senior year.  We wrote each other after college and he visited me.  He told me about how he had had a psychotic episode at the airport as he was leading a student tour group back from a trip abroad.  He thought the airplanes were coming to get him.  He had to be hospitalized.  He came out of it when they were going to give him a shock treatment and he said no.  He was put on the drug lithium but after that I think he had periodic mental health issues.  He had been a linguistics professor at Hampshire College but eventually lost that job.  He and I continued to write a bit, until I heard that he had died.  He was a smart and funny guy and I was so sad to hear that he had died. 

By the way, Mark Vonnegut of the class of 1969 has two books out about his own battles with mental health issues: "Eden Express" and "Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So."  The latter book is especially interesting, as Mark talks about going to Harvard Medical School and becoming a pediatrician, some years after having been hospitalized for a serious mental health issue, and then dealing with a relapse years later.  



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