The Pro Bene Meritis Award is the highest honor bestowed by the College of Liberal Arts. It is given each spring to alumni, faculty and friends of the college who are committed to the liberal arts, who have made outstanding contributions in professional or philanthropic pursuits, or who have participated in service related to the college.
A member of the English Department’s faculty from 1972 until his retirement in 2011, Cable’s outstanding scholarship, prolific service and numerous teaching awards exemplify his dedication to the college. His book with Albert C. Baugh, “A History of the English Language,” is the most widely used text in the world on the subject.
FULL NAME: Thomas (Tom) Monroe Cable Ph.D., English ‘69
HOMETOWN: Conroe, Texas
YOUR FAVORITE WORD: I like the word “limestone.” Although the compound noun goes back only to the 16th century, the two elements, “lime” and “stone,” were in Anglo-Saxon and were recorded as early as the 9th century. The words derive from Common Germanic and have cognates in German, Dutch and Old Norse. The compound noun has two heavy stresses, a feature of medieval poetry in the Germanic languages. I like limestone, especially as it appears in the landscapes of Central Texas and the south of France. During the 1980s my wife Carole and I, with the help of Larry Speck, built a limestone library tower. W. H. Auden wrote one of the greatest poems of the 20th century titled “In Praise of Limestone.”
RETIREMENT: The great thing about retirement is the chance to continue nearly everything I enjoyed before but with more time to do it right. The one activity I loved and don’t do now, of course, is teaching, though even that I get to do by conducting seminars at conferences and such. I spent the first year of my retirement on the sixth edition of “A History of the English Language.” I added a chapter on “The Twenty-first Century,” which paid attention to Chinese as a global language and other topics that had not been covered before. I’ll continue jogging and practicing yoga.
JOGGING WITH SHAKESPEARE: I know most but not all of the 154 sonnets, and I recite them when I jog. In the thirty years of jogging ahead of me, I’ll eventually know them all. Whenever I recite several dozen sonnets on a run around the lake, I am reminded that I like some better than others. The ones I like are not surprising, because they are generally everyone’s favorites.