RL Trask was born in western New York State in 1944. Having come to England in 1970, he obtained his Ph. D. from the University of London in 1983. He taught linguistics at the University of Liverpool from 1979 to 1988, and then at the School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences (now the Linguistics and English Language Department) at the University of Sussex. His special interests were historical linguistics, grammar and the Basque language. He wrote a number of books, including A Dictionary of Grammatical Terms in Linguistics, Language Change, Language: The Basics, The Penguin Guide to Punctuation, The Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar and Mind the Gaffe. How to Write Effective Emails is sadly his last book for Penguin as he died in 2004.