Dr. Kess was the Chair in Japan & Asia-Pacific Relations at the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives and Professor Emeritus of Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Victoria.
Professor Kess' research interests include sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics, although he has directly engaged in many aspects of the discipline of linguistics.
He has worked on a wide variety of languages from diverse settings: for example, he has analyzed aspects of language structure and/or language use for Tagalog, Ilokano, and Hiligaynon in the Philippines, Japanese in both Japan and Hawaii, Motu from Papua NewGuinea, Kuanuan/Tolai from New Britain, the First Nations indigenous languages Ahousaht and Haida in British Columbia, Serbian and Croatian in the former Yugoslavia, and Slovene in Slovenia, Austrian Carinthia, and immigrant communities in North America. His main theoretical interests have focused on psycholinguistic aspects of language processing and language performance. His main applied interests have been in the sociolinguistic dimensions of language policies and language legislation which have served to enhance language maintenance or language shift in bilinguial and multilingual settings.
All told, in the totality of his 35-year academic career he has written or co-authored over a dozen books or monographs, over two dozen book chapters, and over 200 articles, reviews, and other contributions.
On the non-research side, he has written numerous evaluations for agencies such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Killam Fellowships, the National Science Foundation in the USA, as well as university and trade presses, served on several editorial boards, and chaired the SSHRCC adjudication committee for Linguistics twice. He served for over a half-dozen years on both the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities, acting in the capacity of both Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Aid to Scholarly Publications Committee. Lastly, over the years he has tried to encourage many younger scholars in their careers, having supervised numerous Ph.D., M. A., and Honours theses. He has also served on over 50 other University of Victoria Ph.D. Committees in Psychology (primarily), Linguistics, and Education, and over 60 other M. A. and M.Sc. Committees in Psychology (primarily), Linguistics, Education, Anthropology, English, Geography, and Germanic Studies. He has also served as External Examiner on 6 Ph. D. Committees (University of Alberta and Saskatchewan) and 5 M. A. Committees (University of Victoria).
Areas of interests:
Psycholinguistics (theoretical; experimental; developmental)
Sociolinguistics and Discourse Analysis
History and structure of the English language
Structure of Slovene, Japanese, Tagalog