Andrew Garrett: Biography

Andrew reading, Long Beach, NY

Reading in Long Beach, N.Y.

Andrew riding a trike, Seattle, NY

Driving in Seattle

I was born in Seattle. When I was young I lived there; in Manhattan; in Columbia, Missouri; and in Long Beach, New York. When I was very young the old Northwest Coast Hall in the American Museum of Natural History, designed by Franz Boas, scared me, I think because it was so dark and cavernous.

In my high school years I lived in Portland, Oregon; I've also lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Austin, Texas, but I prefer the Pacific Ocean. I learned to swim in 2015.

My sister is a Tibetanist, and so is my brother. He's a linguist working with language archives, and so am I. Our great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather did some Algic language documentation, so does our eighth cousin once removed, and so do I.

My father is a philosopher, and so is my uncle. That uncle was a provost, and another was a college president. My mother is a retired banker, my grandparents were teachers, a nurse, and a fireman, and their fathers were in farming, fishing, pharmacy, and the army. I have some Norwegian ancestors, including Odin, according to an online genealogy service.

I teach at Berkeley, and so do my wife and my fifth cousin once removed; all three of us received campus Distinguished Teaching Awards, as it happens. My fourth cousin seven times removed was said to have caused the Civil War; my tenth cousin died in a car accident in 1997.

My family's cats were each called "Kitty" when I was young, and so were my grandparents' cats. My sister's cat was also "Kitty", and my cousin's cat was "Black Kitty". For a while I was called "Boy". People in our family eat a lot of pie.

My wife has taught courses on Pindar, Herodotus, detective fiction, Sappho, and Elvis. Our late beloved cats Sam and Sophie (siblings) were avid birdwatchers; he studied fluid dynamics and optics, while she loved Elvis. Our current cats Sappho and Alcaeus (a bonded pair) enjoy tv and the newspaper. My college friends are artists, comedians, directors, and playwrights; or they are epidemiologists and scientists; or they teach at Boston College, Clark, Harvard, Ohio State, and Sheffield.

In sixth and seventh grades I was obsessed with Watergate; I watched the Senate hearings and got Judge Sirica's autograph. In high school I was fanatically devoted to Tolkien, and published two articles on his languages—work that now seems linguistically naive to me. In my first two years of college, I spent time on role-playing games with some suspect characters. Some years ago, I got a unique mini-pizza at the Cheese Board.

My work is mostly writing and teaching. My writing was deplored by an eminent linguist in a high-impact refereed journal, and my speaking by an influential journalist in a nationally known daily newspaper. Caveat emptor!