J C Wells

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File:John Wells 1991.jpg
J C Wells in 1991
John Christopher Wells (born 1939 in Bootle, Merseyside) is a British phonetician and Esperanto teacher. Until his retirement in 2006 he was professor of phonetics at University College London.

He early developed an interest in languages. Having learned Welsh, he was interviewed in Welsh on radio; he has a reasonable knowledge of ten different languages. He was apparently approached by the Home Office to work on speaker identification, but turned down the offer as it was still considered unacceptable to be gsy at the time, and he feared that the security check would make his homosexuality public.[1]

He is well known for his book and cassette Accents of English, the book and CD The Sounds of the IPA, Lingvistikaj Aspektoj de Esperanto, and the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. He is the author of the most widely used English-Esperanto dictionary.

Wells was president of the World Esperanto Association (UEA) from 1989 to 1995. He is currently president of the Esperanto Association of Britain and since 2007 has been president of the Esperanto Academy.

Wells is a member of the London Gay Men's Chorus and has featured in their It Gets Better video.[2] He is also a player of the melodeon and has uploaded videos of his playing to YouTube.[3]

Wells' first serious boyfriend was Jamaican, and he has retained a keen interest in the West Indies, and Caribbean varieties of English. His civil partner, Gabriel, is from Montserrat, and they have houses in Montserrat (replacing an earlier house that was destroyed by a volcano in 1997) and in Merton Park, South London.

Wells is a keen amateur runner, and has completed a number of marathons.


  1. Bio at UCL.
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dx-BjfAvW6o&feature=related
  3. See "Personal" section on http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/wells/