SHE was the ”words woman” for the Herald, an academic and teacher who loved nothing more than sharing her passion for the English language with the rest of the world.
Ruth Wajnryb, a renowned linguist who wrote a weekly ”Words” column in the Herald’s Spectrum section for six years, died from metastatic melanoma on Saturday. She was 63.
”She really believed in the power of language and one thing that she wanted to do was to open normal people’s eyes to that power,” her son, Sasha Wajnryb, said yesterday.
Dr Wajnryb was an Applied Linguistics scholar and writer who specialised in TESOL – teaching English as a second language – and worked with Australian, American and Japanese universities. She also wrote a regular language blog.
But although she had a close relationship with the academic world and received her PhD in education and linguistics from Macquarie University, she ”wasn’t one of those academics that sat in an ivory tower in a locked room doing research”, Mr Wajnryb said.
”She was much more about the democratisation of language, and making sure that anyone who was interested in this could understand what she was writing.”
The editor of Spectrum, John Saxby, said Dr Wajnryb’s column was popular with readers and ”always a joy to receive”.
Dr Wajnryb was born in Sydney in 1948 and grew up in Campbelltown. The child of Polish doctors who survived the Holocaust, she developed a love for English that her parents encouraged and nurtured.
One of her interests was exploring the effects of the Holocaust on people and how they used language to describe their experiences.
A single mother for almost a decade, she is survived by Mr Wajnryb, 35, her daughter Laura McDonald, 25, and Labradoodles Honey and Ginger.
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