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In Memoriam

Nicole Domingue, 1932-2011

It is with considerable regret that we report the death of Nicole Domingue, formerly Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Linguistics, who died in Toronto on December 15th 2011. Nicole was born in Strasbourg, France, in 1932 and educated at the Sorbonne, completing a first degree in geography in 1954, followed by a postgraduate certificate in Social Anthropology in 1955. She worked for three years as a research assistant in anthropology for the Musée de l’homme in Paris, obtaining a diploma in West African Studies in 1959. Following her marriage in 1960, she moved to Austin, Texas, and enrolled in the PhD program in Linguistics at the University of Texas, where she also taught French. Her PhD dissertation focused on linguistic properties of Mauritian Bhojpuri and Mauritian Creole, particularly with respect to language interference, linguistic variation and historical change. She was one of the first linguists to apply the methodology of sociolinguistics to the to study of Mauritian Creole. After obtaining her PhD in 1971, she was appointed as an Assistant Professor in Linguistics at Indiana University at South Bend. In 1975, she joined the Department of Linguistics at McGill. She was granted tenure in 1982 and retired from McGill in December 1994.

Nicole Domingue’s teaching focused on anthropological linguistics and sociolinguistics. She taught undergraduate and graduate courses and supervised graduate students in these areas. In her research, she continued to pursue interests developed from ideas originally investigated in her PhD dissertation, with an ongoing focus on creoles, including Mauritian Creole and Middle English (which, she argued, is also a Creole). She also investigated how the development of language is influenced by language contact and borrowing. Her interest in language contact led her to the study of bilingualism and multilingualism in individuals and society.

Nicole Domingue was especially appreciated at the departmental and Faculty level for her contributions to service. In the Department of Linguistics, she served as both undergraduate and graduate advisor. She was appointed Chair in 1985 and served two terms, ending in 1992. In 1994, she accepted an appointment in the Faculty of Arts as Acting Associate Dean, Student Affairs, a position which she held until her retirement.

Nicole will be remembered above all as a genuinely caring person, committed to colleagues and students, generous and accessible. She had an open-door policy and was always ready to discuss problems and propose solutions. Students at all levels – her own students as well as others -consistently commented on her availability and helpfulness. Nicole was well used to managing the pressures of juggling an academic career with family needs (she brought up four children) and she was a mentor to others in the same situation.

Nicole had many outside interests. She was passionate about music, a passion she passed on to her four children. During her years in Montreal, she and her family lived in the Point and she was dedicated to the needs of the community there.

Nicole is survived by her four children and three grandchildren and we extend our deepest sympathies to them.


Written by Lydia White