Geoffrey K. Pullum

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Geoffrey K. Pullum
Born Geoffrey Keith Pullum
(1945-03-08) March 8, 1945 (age 77)
Irvine, Scotland, UK
Citizenship British;
United States (since 1987)
Alma mater University of York (B.A.)
University of London (PhD)
Occupation Linguist
Employer University of Edinburgh
Known for Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band;
The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language;
Language Log
Title Professor of General Linguistics
Spouse(s) Joan E. Rainford (1967–93)
Barbara C. Scholz (1994–2011)
Patricia C. Shannon (2014– )
Awards Leonard Bloomfield Book Award (2004; shared with Rodney Huddleston)
Linguistics, Language, and the Public Award (2009; shared with Mark Liberman)

Geoffrey Keith "Geoff" Pullum (/ˈpʊləm/; born March 8, 1945) is a British-American linguist specialising in the study of English. Since 2007 he has been Professor of General Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh.

Pullum is a co-author of The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (2002), a comprehensive descriptive grammar of English. He is also a contributor to Language Log and Lingua Franca at The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Geoffrey K. Pullum was born in Irvine, Scotland, on March 8, 1945, and moved to West Wickham, England while very young. He left secondary school at age 16 and toured Germany as a pianist in the rock and roll band Sonny Stewart and the Dynamos. A year and a half later, he returned to England and co-founded a soul band, Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band, with Pete Gage.

After the band broke up, Pullum enrolled in the University of York in 1968, graduating in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts with first class honours. In 1976 he completed a PhD in Linguistics at University College London.

Pullum left Britain in 1980, taking visiting positions at the University of Washington and Stanford University. In 1987, he became a United States citizen. He worked at the University of California, Santa Cruz from 1981 to 2007.

In 2000, he published, in the style of Dr. Seuss, a proof of Turing's theorem that the Halting Problem is recursively unsolvable.[1]

In 2002, Pullum co-authored The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language with Rodney Huddleston and other linguists, which won the Leonard Bloomfield Book Award of the Linguistic Society of America in 2004.

In 2003 he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2009 a Fellow of the British Academy.

In 2007, he moved to the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh, where he is currently Professor of General Linguistics and was formerly Head of Linguistics and English Language.

Selected publications


  1. Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2000) “Scooping the loop snooper: An elementary proof of the undecidability of the halting problem.” Mathematics Magazine 73.4 (October 2000), 319-320. A corrected version appears on the author's website as “Scooping the loop snooper: A proof that the Halting Problem is undecidable”.

External links