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University of Massachusetts Amherst

Language Research Acquisition Research Center


To extend LARC's congratulations to co-Director Tom Roeper's for his election to Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America at the 2013 Annual Meeting, LARC opened the semester with an extended champagne and caviar toast to him. "Roasters" were welcome, too, as you can see in the notes to him below.

Picture captions:

1. Alice Harris makes a toast, Jeremy Hartment and Kristine Yu (Left to right) look on.

2. Barbara Pearson reads "telegrams" sent for the occasion. Visible in the background, (l to r) Seth Cable, Lucia, Liane Jeschull, and Brian Dillon.

3. Tom listens (not convinced).

4. All eyes off-screen: (l to r) Mike Clauss, Tom, Jeremy Hartman, Kristine Yu

5. Luiz Amaral holds forth/ Joe Pater (left) awaits his turn.

6. It must have been funny (front to back) Athulia Aravind, Lucia, Liane Jeschull, Brian Dillion, (plus others partially visible)

7. Magda Oiry (left) and Jill de Villiers (right) take turns -- toasting and roasting, respectively.

8. Tom gets it. (Former students will recognize the hand gesture.) Jill de Villiers and Mike Clauss looking on.

(Pictures by Laura Holland)


When I studied with Tom in the 70s, there really wasn’t much published work on theoretical approaches to language acquisition. With important exceptions, the psychologists who dominated the language acquisition field didn’t know much about language, and were threatened by theoreticians. Linguists were totally wedded to conventional methods of intuitional research, and mostly watched from a distance. Through the narrow road that remained rode Tom Roeper on a motorcycle with no helmet. (Note the ambiguity in the last sentence. Please test children on their perception of it, perhaps tonight if there’s still time.) And while he didn’t ride alone, he didn’t have too much company either. Tom was always an explosion of ideas, largely ideas about how to learn about the human language faculty through the study of the development of language in children. His distinguished record as a scholar shows that an awful lot of these ideas turned out to be good ones. I’m delighted to have a chance to say these things. I know these comments are too long for a toast, but that shouldn’t matter much to Tom, who was never much of a drinker anyway.
Congrats and warmest wishes to Tom. --Larry Solan

Please extend my congratulations to Tom. We all know how deserving he is and the Fellow award is well overdue. We also know how brilliantly clever he is at devising experiments under just about any conditions. In fact, I first noticed this propensity during our squash and racquetball matches where I became curious about his constant talking to himself silently during the matches. It soon became evident that he was simply devising potential experiments. I never discouraged him since there was a direct correlation between the amount of his “self talk” and my victories. And, his experimental meandering led to some great research partnerships. So knowing Tom has been a win, win situation—having a collaborative and beatable colleague who is also a terrific friend.

TOM, YOU BE THE MAN! --Harry Seymour

Dear Tom -- what an honor, but definitely not undeserved! You are one of the most influential linguists given your pioneering approach of combining child language and syntactic theorizing...and this of course is something we really need to understand in order to figure out what's really going on with language! Congratulations on this important milestone...and best wishes always to you and your family,
from your old student Anne Vainikka

I just wanted to say that Tom was the gentlest, and most supportive professor ever! Great congratulations to him!
All the best,
Dave LeBeaux

Wish I could be there to give you a big hug! But instead, thought I would send you a few warm smiles to let you know how happy I am that you have received this honor (see attached...I'm sending you multiple T Wyatt smiles so you can pick your favorite one :). I just don't know how in the world it took them this long when I picked you as one of my dissertation advisors more than 20 years ago. That alone should have been more than worth its weight in gold.
Best wishes with much love!
Dr. T. (alias Toya Wyatt)

Tom, congratulation! You are a genius and a legend, your country and the world of science should be thankful & Proud of you. You have devoted your life to give innovative knowledge to generations to come across the world through your honorable character of generosity, noble human values of equality, honesty, courage & integrity. You are a human treasure indeed. So be proud of you as I am. Thank you for mentoring me & teaching me. I am always honored.
Lamya Abdulkarim