Prof. Rodney F. Moag (1936-2023) began the Malayalam program at the University of Texas at Austin when he joined the university in 1981. He taught Malayalam at all levels until his retirement in 2004. Moag took an MA in Indian Studies (1966) and a PhD in Linguistics (1973) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the 1970s, he worked first at the University of Missouri, then took up a position as a Fulbright researcher at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, followed by a short stint at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (1978-80).
Moag published widely in a number of areas within linguistics and area studies including diglossia, language loss, vernacular education, language pedagogy, biculturalism, and non-native Englishes. He was also an early and prescient observer of the cultural and linguistic challenges faced by Indian diaspora communities in the United States, Fiji, and elsewhere. His studies of heritage language learners and pedagogy informed his two major academic works, the textbooks of Malayalam and Fiji Hindi.
2002. Malayalam: A University Course and Reference Grammar. 4th ed. Austin: Center for Asian Studies, UT-Austin.
1977. Fiji Hindi: A Basic Course and Reference Grammar. Canberra: Australian National University Press.
Outside of academia, Moag is better known as a performer, historian, and radio host of old-time, country, and bluegrass music. The “Pickin’ Singin’ Professor” has cut more than 10 albums between 1967 and 2018. His long-running radio show, The Country, Swing, and Rockabilly Jamboree, was heard on Austin’s community radio station KOOP-FM from 1995-2020.
In recognition of his pioneering contributions to the study of Malayalam in the US and at UT-Austin, the Rodney F. Moag Malayalam Studies Excellence Fund was established through the generosity of more than 200 friends, students, and colleagues of Dr. Moag.