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Abercrombie, David

  1. Adam Brown

Published Online: 5 NOV 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal0001

The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics

How to Cite

Brown, A. 2012. Abercrombie, David. The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 NOV 2012


David Abercrombie (1909–1992) was born into a family with a literary heritage—his father was the poet Lascelles Abercrombie. When World War I began, his family moved to Liverpool, where his father subsequently became a lecturer at Liverpool University and David was educated at Liverpool College. His father was then appointed professor of English literature at Leeds University and David attended Leeds Grammar School. He went on to Leeds University where he graduated with a third-class honours BA in English. While living with his parents in London, he worked on an MA on i-mutation, which he never completed. As Ladefoged (1997, p. 85) notes, he “never set much store on academic credentials.” His father served on the BBC Advisory Committee on Spoken English with George Bernard Shaw and Daniel Jones. When Jones was told of David's interest in speech, he mentored him for the next seven years at University College London (UCL). As a result, David became involved in topics such as spelling reform and the teaching of English to native speakers of other languages.


  • 20th century;
  • language teaching;
  • phonetics;
  • phonology;
  • pronunciation;
  • prosody