A British citizen, Peter Cannings studied French and linguistics at the School of Economics and Political Science of the University of London and then received a Maîtrise and Doctorat de troisième cycle at the Université de Provence in Aix-en-Provence. He joined the faculty of the Department in 1974 where he distinguished himself as an enthusiastic and creative teacher and a highly talented scholar in theoretical linguistics. He helped found the journal Studies in French Linguistics but did not live to see its first issue published in 1978. His life was cut short at the age of 27 by a car accident after less than four years at IU, in October 1977. His family helped establish this award in his memory, for a student of French or general linguistics.