Hello everybody!

(© Georg Anderhub, Photographer, Gibraltarstr. 10, 6003 Luzern)

Professor J. R. Schwyter, Ph.D. (Cambridge)

I used to be Professor of English Linguistics and Head of the Lausanne English Department when, in February 2009, I suffered a severe brain stroke. I continue to recover, albeit slowly, and am now working at the Department again at 50%.

For all those not familiar with a brain stroke and the severe consequences – particularly on language – it can have, I recommend reading the articles I wrote for CUP’s English Today (‘“Me talk funny”: A stroke patient’s personal account’, and the update ‘Ten Years After the Stroke‘), for Babel (‘Losing Language – Multilingualism and Aphasia‘) and for the International Journal of English Linguistics (‘Multilingualism in Stoke Patients’). You might find the pamphlet ‘fascination brain’, including my contribution on multilingualism on pp. 15-16, published by the Ligue Suisse pour le Cerveau, Schweizerische Hirnliga, Lega Svizerra per il Cervello also very helpful.

Brain strokes are the 3rd most common cause of death and the most common cause of handicap and disabilities in Switzerland; and if you survive, which is about 80% in the E.U. and 90% in Switzerland, two thirds of patients need, one year after the stroke, assistance in one way or another. I was extremely lucky because, by now, I can manage my daily life quite well – except for some slight paralysis on the right side of my body and, if I’m excited or tired, the difficulty to articulate speech (aphasia).

IMG_0704My research interests focus, naturally, on all aspects of language and the brain. Also, I pursue my “former” fields of specialisation in socio- and historical linguistics.

I am particularly proud of my book Dictating to the Mob: The History of the BBC Advisory Committee on Spoken English, published by Oxford University Press (2016); a book (and related article in Babel: The Language Magazine) which I have written as a stroke survivor.

Also in 2016, Raphaël Meyer made a film entitled [Jürg], which is about the stroke and my handicaps, especially aphasia. It can be accessed here (the password is: gunter).

[Jürg] was shown in 2017 at the Bamberg Short Film Festival, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (Missoula, MT), the Nuit du Court Métrage (Morges, Switzerland), the Central Michigan International Film Festival (Mount Pleasant, MI), the Festival Internacional de Cortometrejes y Arte sobre Enfermedades (Valencia), the Twin Lion International Film Festival (Karnataka, India), the shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival (Bern), the Jacksonville Documentary Film Festival (Jacksonville, FL), the Switzerland International Film Festival (online), the NYC Short Documentary Film Festival (New York City, NY), the London International Documentary Festival LIDF (London, UK), the APHA Global Public Health Film Festival (Atlanta, GA), Ciné Jeunesse «On Tour» (Suisse Romande), Cinema Touching: The Disability Film Festival (Austin, TX), the Festival Cinéma Jeune Public (Lausanne, Switzerland) and finally at the 41. Schweizer Jugendfilmtage in Zurich where it won the first prize for best documentary and the audience prize.

In addition, [Jürg] was presented at the 2017 ‘Science of Aphasia’ conference in the University of Geneva, at the Cinéclub of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), at the Faculté des lettres of the University of Lausanne, at the Centre for Speech and Language Intervention Research (CSLIR), University College London, and it was also screened on television, TV4TNG (26 April 2018, 9 PM).

For more information on all of these, see also my unisciences page at: https://applicationspub.unil.ch/interpub/noauth/php/Un/UnPers.php?PerNum=37256&LanCode=37


(I would like to thank Marie Emilie Walz, Camille Marshall, Marcel Elias, Anas Sareen and Juliette Loesch for their help with this blog; without their precious aid I would never have managed it.)

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