Richard Coates

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For the English footballer, see Richard Coates (footballer).
Richard Coates
Born 16 April 1949 (1949-04-16) (age 67)
Grimsby, Lincolnshire
Residence Bristol
Citizenship United Kingdom
Nationality English
Fields Linguistics
Institutions University of the West of England, Bristol (previously at University of Sussex)
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Doctoral advisor J. L. M. Trim
Other academic advisors Pieter A. M. Seuren, Erik C. Fudge, Roy A. Wisbey, Peter Rickard, Martin Harris
Known for Historical linguistics
Philology of northern and western European languages
Onomastics, especially place-names,
theory of names and naming

Richard Coates (born 16 April 1949, in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, and educated at Wintringham School) is an English linguist. He is professor of linguistics (alternatively professor of onomastics) at the University of the West of England, Bristol. From 1977 to 2006 he taught at the University of Sussex, where he served as professor of linguistics (1991–2006) and as Dean of the School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences (1998–2003). From 1980–9 he was assistant secretary and then secretary of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain. He has been honorary director of the Survey of English Place-Names since 2003, having previously (1997–2002) served as president of the English Place-Name Society which conducts the Survey. From 2002 to 2008, he was secretary of the International Council of Onomastic Sciences, a body devoted to the promotion of the study of names, and elected as one of its two vice-presidents from 2011–14 and 2014-17. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1992 and of the Royal Society of Arts in 2001.

His main academic interests are proper names (both from the historical and the theoretical perspective), historical linguistics in general, the philology of the Germanic, Romance and Celtic languages, regional variation in language, and local history. He is editor of the Survey of English Place-Names for Hampshire and principal investigator of the AHRC-funded project Family Names of the United Kingdom (FaNUK), running from 2010–14, of which Patrick Hanks is lead researcher.

He has written books on the names of the Channel Islands, the local place-names of St Kilda, Hampshire and Sussex, the dialect of Sussex, and, with Andrew Breeze, on Celtic place-names in England, as well as about 400 academic articles, notes, and collections on related topics. For example, in 1998, he introduced a new etymology of the name London, deriving it from the pre-Celtic Old European *(p)lowonidā, meaning 'boat river' or 'swim river', i.e. 'river too wide or deep to ford', and suggested that this was a name given to the part of the River Thames which flows through London; from this, the settlement gained the Celtic form of its name, *Lowonidonjon, by suffixation.[1] His main contribution to linguistic theory is The Pragmatic Theory of Properhood, set out in a number of articles since 2000.[2][3][4][5]

He is also the author of Word Structure, a students' introduction to linguistic morphology (Routledge), and of online resources on Shakespeare's character-names and on the place-names of Hayling Island.

See also[edit]

Books, dissertations and selected other freestanding publications[edit]

1977 The status of rules in historical phonology. Doctoral dissertation 10301, University of Cambridge. [Unpublished.]

1983 The linguistic history of early Sussex: the place-name evidence. University of Sussex Centre for Continuing Education Occasional Paper 20; pp. iii + 49 (ISBN 0 904242 23 4, ISSN 0306-1108).

1987 (co-ed. with John Lyons, Margaret Deuchar and Gerald Gazdar) New horizons in linguistics 2. Harmondsworth: Pelican; pp. viii + 465 (ISBN 978-0-14-022612-6).

1987 A classified bibliography on Sussex place-names, 1586–1987, with an introductory essay. Brighton: Younsmere Press; pp. iii + 138 (ISBN 0 9512309 0 5). [A supplement was issued in 1996.]

1988 Toponymic topics: essays on the early toponymy of the British Isles. Brighton: Younsmere Press; pp. v + 124 (ISBN 0 9512309 1 3).

1988 A bibliography of place-names in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, with a section on Hampshire dialect. Brighton: Younsmere Press; pp. iii + 60 (ISBN 0 9512309 3 X). [Second, revised, edition 1992.]

1989 The place-names of Hampshire. London: Batsford; pp. vii + 193 (ISBN 0 7134 5625 6).

1990 The place-names of St Kilda: nomina hirtensia. Lampeter: Edwin Mellen (Welsh Studies 3; later Celtic Studies 1); pp. viii + 221 (ISBN 0 88946 077 9).

1990 Some place-names of the downland fringe: seven Sussex essays of 1990. Brighton: Younsmere Press; pp. vii + 51 (ISBN 0 9512309 5 6).

1991 The ancient and modern names of the Channel Islands: a linguistic history. Stamford: Paul Watkins; pp. xiv + 144 (ISBN 1 871615 15 1).

1991 The place-names of Hayling Island, Hampshire. [Manuscript. Web-published in 2007; see there.]

1992 A bibliography of place-names in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, with a section on Hampshire dialect. Brighton: Younsmere Press. Second, enlarged, edition (first edition 1988); pp. 72 (ISBN 0 9512309 7 2).

1992 (ed.) De A.B.C. psalms by Jim Cladpole (James Richards). Brighton: Younsmere Press; pp. 46 (ISBN 0 9512309 6 4).

1992 (co-ed. with Lynne J. Cahill) Sussex papers in general and computational linguistics presented to the conference of the LAGB, Brighton, 6–8 April 1992. Cognitive Science Research Paper 239, University of Sussex.

1993 Hampshire place-names. Southampton: Ensign Publications. Paperback edition of The place-names of Hampshire; pp. 193 (ISBN 185455 090 X).

1996–2007 (ed.) Locus focus: forum of the Sussex place-names net (7 vols, 14 issues).

1998 A bibliography of Channel Islands French and the linguistic situation in the islands to 1997. Cognitive Science Research Paper 485, University of Sussex. Provisional edition, pp. 102 (ISSN 1350-3162).

1999 The place-names of West Thorney. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society (supplementary series 1); pp. v + 64 (ISBN pbk 0904889 52 1).

1999 Word structure. London and New York: Routledge (Routledge Language Workbooks); pp. ix + 101 (ISBN pbk 0 415 20631 6). [Student guide to morphology. Also available as an e-book from 2005.]

2000 (with Andrew Breeze; including a contribution by David Horovitz) Celtic voices, English places: studies of the Celtic impact on place-names in England. Stamford: Shaun Tyas; pp. xiv + 433 (ISBN 1 900289 41 5).

2005 Word structure. London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis e-Library; pp. 120 (ISBN 9780203056462). [First published in paperback in 1999.]

2006 (guest ed.) Name theory. Special issue of Onoma, vol. 41 (spine date 2006; appeared 2011); pp. 309 (ISSN 0078-463X, eISSN 1783-1644).

2007 The place-names of Hayling Island, Hampshire. [MS. of 1991. Web-publication;; pp. 96.]

2010 A place-name history of the parishes of Rottingdean and Ovingdean in Sussex (including Woodingdean and Saltdean). Nottingham: English Place-Name Society (Regional series 2); pp. xviii + 222, ISBN 978-0-904889-84-0. [Published with the aid of a grant from the British Academy.]

2010 The traditional dialect of Sussex: a history, description, selected texts, bibliography and discography. Lewes: Pomegranate Press; pp. 349. (ISBN 978-1-907242-09-0.) [Published with the aid of a grant from the Marc Fitch Fund.]

2011 The street-names of Shirehampton and Avonmouth. Shirehampton: Shire Community Newspaper. Web-publication, online at; pp. 86.

2012 The farm- and field-names of old Shirehampton. Shirehampton: Shire Community Newspaper. Web-publication, online at; pp. 42.

in preparation (co-ed. with Patrick Hanks and others) Family names of the United Kingdom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

in preparation A dictionary of Sussex place-names [working title]. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society.

in preparation The place-names of Hampshire [multi-volume work]. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society.

in preparation (ed.) Purty middlin'. A selection of writings in Sussex dialect.

External links[edit]

  • [1], University of the West of England: Richard Coates, where a list of his main recent publications can be found.


  1. ^ Coates, Richard (1998). "A new explanation of the name of London". Transactions of the Philological Society. 96 (2): 203–229. doi:10.1111/1467-968X.00027. 
  2. ^ Coates, Richard (2006). "Properhood". Language. 82 (2): 356–382. doi:10.1353/lan.2006.0084. .
  3. ^ Coates, Richard (2006). "Some consequences and critiques of The Pragmatic Theory of Properhood". Onoma. 41: 27–44. .
  4. ^ Coates, Richard (2007). "A strictly Millian approach to the definition of the proper name.". Mind and Language. 24 (4): 433–444. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0017.2009.01369.x. .
  5. ^ Coates, Richard (2012). "Eight issues in The Pragmatic Theory of Properhood". Acta Linguistica Lithuanica/ Lietuvių kalbotyros klausimai. 66: 119–140. .