Department of English

Ian Hancock Made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II

Fri, January 25, 2019
Ian Hancock Made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II

Ian Hancock, a UT English and Linguistics Professor Emeritus, was recently made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to understanding of creole linguistics, the Romani language and to the emancipation of Romani people. The OBE recognizes great civil service and contributions to the arts, sciences and welfare organizations. Congratulations, Ian, for this high honor and incredible achievement!

While at UT Austin, Hancock directed the Romani Archives and Documentation Center and published extensively on the anthropology, history and language of the Roma — most notably his book, The Pariah Syndrome (2001), which was the first to document the enslavement of Roma in Europe.

Hancock is also credited with coining the term “porrajmos” to describe the genocide of the Roma at the hand of the Nazis. In 1997, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and served as State Commissioner on the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission for four years. And, with his most recent award from the British Empire, Hancock has been invited to join the commission in charge of building the memorial for the Roma who were murdered during the Holocaust at Lety u Písku.

Lolya Bernal, the Argentine Romani leader, explains the importance of Hancock’s work in Romani linguistics saying: “In the early 1980’s, I received a letter from Professor Ian Hancock . . . There in my hands, through his letters, an entirely new world was appearing — the origin of our culture, traditions, language, the clues of our Indian origin and many other things, none of which were taught us by the gadze (non-Roma). It encouraged me to continue working on our tales, language and, later, politics in searching for our destiny.”

For more information on Hancock's work and efforts, read "What's in a Name?" in Life & Letters (p. 12). 

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