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 ’), for Babel (‘Losing Language – Multilingualism and Aphasia‘) and for the International Journal of English Linguistics (‘Multilingualism in Stoke Patients’). 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).
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 is shown in 2017 at the Bamberg Short Film Festival, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (Missoula, MT), the Central Michigan International Film Festival (Mount Pleasant, MI), the Festival Internacional de Cortometrejes y Arte sobre Enfermedades (Valencia), the NYC Short Documentary Film Festival (New York City, NY), and finally at the 41. Schweizer Jugendfilmtage in Zurich where it won a first prize for best documentary and an audience prize.
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.)