Famous British Linguists

Find out more about the greatest British Linguists, including Percy Bysshe Shelley, Susie Dent, Enoch Powell, Max Müller and Harriet Martineau.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite British Linguists

 1 Enoch Powell

Enoch Powell.
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Birthdate: June 16, 1912
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Birmingham
Died: February 8, 1998

Enoch Powell was a British politician, linguist, classical scholar, philologist, and poet. Also a soldier, Powell served in World War II, reaching the rank of brigadier. His political career is remembered for his iconic and infamous Rivers of Blood speech, which was interpreted as a demonstration of racism. The speech became the subject of a play titled What Shadows.

 2 Katharine Gun

Katharine Gun.
4
Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: 1974 AD
Birthplace: Taiwan, Taiwan
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 3 Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville.
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Famous As: Mathematician, Linguist, Translator, Astronomer, Scientist
Birthdate: December 26, 1780
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jedburgh
Died: November 28, 1872

 4 J. L. Austin

J. L. Austin.
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: March 26, 1911
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lancaster, England
Died: February 8, 1960

Philosopher J. L. Austin is remembered for his study on ordinary-language philosophy and is also considered a pioneer of the theory of speech acts. His lectures at Harvard were later collected in How to Do Things with Words. He died of cancer while developing a theory on sound symbolism.

 5 Harriet Martineau

Harriet Martineau.
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Famous As: Linguist, Journalist, Economist, Historian, Translator, Writer, Sociologist, Essayist, Feminist
Birthdate: June 12, 1802
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Norwich
Died: June 27, 1876

Regarded by many as the first female sociologist, Harriet Martineau was a prominent 19th-century social theorist, classical economist, and intellectual who penned the iconic work The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte. She was partially deaf and had lost her sense of taste and smell in childhood.

 6 Michael Ventris

Michael Ventris
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Famous As: Linguist, Architect, Historian, Archaeologist
Birthdate: July 12, 1922
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wheathampstead
Died: September 6, 1956

 7 William Jones

William Jones
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Famous As: Philologist
Birthdate: September 28, 1746
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: April 27, 1794
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 8 Arthur Waley

Arthur Waley
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Famous As: Translator
Birthdate: August 19, 1889
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England
Died: June 27, 1966

 9 Guillermo Cabrera Infante

Guillermo Cabrera Infante
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Famous As: Linguist, Screenwriter, Translator, Essayist, Writer, Journalist
Birthdate: April 22, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cuba
Died: February 21, 2005

Guillermo Cabrera Infante was a Cuban novelist, essayist, translator, and screenwriter. He initially planned to become a doctor but ditched his plans to become a writer instead. He had a successful career and eventually became the editor of the magazine Carteles and director of the Instituto del Cine. He received the Premio Cervantes in 1997. 

 10 John Rupert Firth

John Rupert Firth
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Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: June 17, 1890
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Keighley, England
Died: December 14, 1960

 11 John Florio

John Florio
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Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: 1553 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Died: 1625 AD

 12 Peter Ladefoged

Peter Ladefoged
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Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: September 17, 1925
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sutton, England
Died: January 24, 2006

 13 Charles Kay Ogden

Charles Kay Ogden
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Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: June 1, 1889
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fleetwood, England
Died: March 20, 1957

 14 Elizabeth Carter

Elizabeth Carter
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 16, 1717
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Deal, England
Died: February 19, 1806

 15 Harry Johnston

Harry Johnston
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Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: June 12, 1858
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kennington Park, London,England
Died: July 31, 1927

 16 Reynold A. Nicholson

Reynold A. Nicholson
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Famous As: Translator
Birthdate: August 18, 1868
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Keighley, England
Died: August 27, 1945

 17 Sir George Abraham Grierson

Sir George Abraham Grierson
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Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: January 7, 1851
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glenageary, Ireland
Died: March 9, 1941

 18 Alexander John Ellis

Alexander John Ellis
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Famous As: Linguist, Musicologist, Music theorist, Ethnomusicologist, Mathematician
Birthdate: June 14, 1814
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 28, 1890

 19 Fleeming Jenkin

Fleeming Jenkin
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: March 25, 1833
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dungeness, England
Died: June 12, 1885

After a 10-year stint as an engineer working to construct and install submarine telegraph cables, Fleeming Jenkin published reports establishing the ohm as the unit of electrical resistance. He is also remembered as the inventor of the cable car and taught at institutes such as the University of Edinburgh.

 20 Sir Edward Howard Marsh

Sir Edward Howard Marsh
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Famous As: Translator
Birthdate: November 18, 1872
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 13, 1953

 21 Archibald Sayce

Archibald Sayce
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Famous As: Assyriologist
Birthdate: September 25, 1846
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Shirehampton, Bristol, England
Died: February 4, 1933

 22 David Samuel Margoliouth

David Samuel Margoliouth
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Famous As: Orientalist
Birthdate: October 17, 1858
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: March 22, 1940

 23 Peter Hebblethwaite

Peter Hebblethwaite
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Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: September 30, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ashton-under-Lyne, England
Died: December 18, 1994

 24 Thomas Hoby

Thomas Hoby
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Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: 1530 AD
Birthplace: England
Died: July 13, 1566

 25 John of Garland

John of Garland
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Famous As: Philologist
Birthdate: 1190 AD
Birthplace: England
Died: 1270 AD