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RIP: Robert de Beaugrande

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am sorry to pass on the news of the death several days ago of Robert de Beaugrande, a good friend and an outstanding linguist who contributed much to the inception of text and discourse analysis and to critical discourse linguistics.

Robert helped to develop what was known at one time as the Vienna School of Textlinguistik, and also to some early work on cognitive linguistics. In his later work, he contributed to what we now call Critical Discourse Analysis, and wrote many insightful and incisive analyses of politically charged texts and issues, combining methods of functional linguistics with the emerging techniques of computer-based corpus analysis.

Robert had a flamboyant personal style and a strong commitment to progressive politics. He worked in and supported students in several developing African nations, in Asia, the mid-East, and Brazil, as well as having a prestigious appointment for several years at the University of Vienna.

In semi-retirement, he devoted himself to producing a website with full text of many of his classic and newer publications, making it a treasure house of information especially for those around the world who cannot afford the exorbitant prices of academic books today.

The site is at:


Jay Lemke

Educational Studies

University of Michigan


Professor de Beaugrande was a member of the LNC list at . He contributed in innumerable ways. He will be missed.


1 Janina { 10.21.08 at 22:28 }

What is your contact information Mr Brendel?

Janina Brutt-Griffler

2 Wendy R. Ban { 10.30.08 at 12:40 }

Mr. Brendel – I may have met you a couple of times in the late 1970’s when Robert was at OSU and I was a graduate student helping with his research – just before he went to Florida. Robert spoke seldom of personal matters, but I am fairly certain he was born in Boulder, Colorado. I don’t know if his parents were Theodore and Eunice Shoemaker, but two such individuals did in fact exist in Missoula (SDI records), b1915-d1994 and b1918-d2003, respectively. Robert did mention to me that some ancestor/relative or other was an early Western settler and did outdoors work – perhaps mining or forestry – it has been too long and my recollections are dim. A quick web search shows an early Shormaker (probably Theodore’s father, also named Theodore) as rather distinguished for forestry work in Montana. My recollection is that Robert said he knew something about horses, which didn’t seem to fit with his very urban persona. It has been 30 years and this is all dim in memory, but he did allude to a few details about his origins, which were otherwise mysterious. What is your contact information?

3 Jane Hankey { 11.12.08 at 22:13 }

Robert de Beaugrande aka James Shoemaker was my first cousin. My father, Eugene Daniel Hankey and his mother, Eunice Hankey Shoemaker were brother and sister. It is possible that he was born in Colorado but he was raised in Missoula,Montana where his father Theodore was a professor at The University of Montana. I don’t have much information about when it happened but at some point during his education after he had left Montana, he changed his name to Robert de Beaugrande and affected a German accent.

During his lifetime I would not have responded to this query but after I read of his death, I decided that those who are confused about his origins deserved to know the truth. Unfortunately his only sister, Ellen Shoemaker died in 2003, the same year as his mother.