Andrew Garrett: Life

Andrew reading, Long Beach, NY

Reading in Long Beach, N.Y.

Andrew riding a trike, Seattle, NY

Driving in Seattle, wearing boots

I was born in Seattle. I grew up there and in Manhattan; in Columbia, Missouri; in Long Beach, New York; and in Portland, Oregon, where I went to high school. 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.

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 beloved cats Sam and Sophie were avid birdwatchers; he studied fluid dynamics, optics, and poststructuralist sociology, while she loved Elvis. My college friends teach at Clark, Harvard, Ohio State, Sheffield, Suffolk, and Whitworth; or they are epidemiologists and scientists; or artists, comedians, and playwrights in the linguistic area of Buffalo-Canadian Raising. My birthday turns out to be the same as an awesome graduate student and a friend and colleague I've known for thirty years.

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 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. But I have an Erdős-Bacon number of 8, if plays count, through Michael Houser & Maziar Toosarvandani to Johanna Nichols to Tandy Warnow to Paul Erdős, and through Lawrence Aronovitch to Kathy Logan to Christian Slater to Kevin Bacon.

Some modes of therapy for me nowadays are cooking, including pie; walking, ideally uphill; running; racetrack driving; and making fabular books. Also, I like shoes.