Dr. Henry Hiz, professor emeritus of linguistics, died on December 19, 2007. He was 89 years old.
Dr. Hiz was born in Leningrad, Russia, to Polish parents. He was a resident of Warsaw, Poland, from 1920 to 1944. From 1940 to 1945 he was a member of the Polish resistance against German occupation.
Dr. Hiz received his B.A. in 1937 at the Ray Liceum in Warsaw, and went on to study philosophy at Warsaw University until 1939, when the war interrupted his studies. After the war he received his M.A. in philosophy at the Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) in 1946; in 1948 he received his Ph.D. in philosophy at Harvard University.
Beginning in the spring of 1951, Dr. Hiz served off-and-on as a visiting lecturer in philosophy at Penn. In 1959 he co-directed a research project with Dr. Zellig Harris, in the department of linguistics that resulted in the creation of the first computer program that could analyze the grammar of a human language, today known as a spelling and grammar checker. Dr. Hiz permanently joined the faculty when he was hired as an associate professor of linguistics in 1960. He was promoted to professor in 1964. From 1966 to 1973 he served as the chairman of the graduate group in linguistics. Dr. Hiz retired in 1988.
Dr. Hiz was a member of numerous mathematical and philosophical organizations. He had served as editor of a Formal Linguistics Series of books in 1970-71. He authored Questions (Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy) in 1978 and co-authored Papers on Syntax in 1981. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship Award in 1976.
Prior to coming to Penn, Dr. Hiz taught philosophy, Slavic languages and mathematics at the Underground University of Warsaw (1940-44, 1949-50), Harvard University (1948-49), University of Lodz (1950), Brooklyn College (1950), New York University (1950), University of Utah (1951-1953) and Penn State University (1954).
Dr. Henry M. Hoenigswald, emeritus professor of linguistics, died on June 16, 2003. He was 88 years old.
Dr. Hoenigswald earned his academic degrees in the classics and Indo-European studies from the University of Munich, the University of Padua and the University of Florence before fleeing Europe in 1939 to escape the Nazis. After immigrating to the U.S., Dr. Hoeingswald taught at Yale University and the University of Texas. He also worked for the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. State Department.
He joined the Penn faculty in 1948 and was appointed professor of lingustics in 1959. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1950 and received a fellowship form the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 1962. Dr. Hoenigswald retired from Penn in 1985.
He was a former president of the Linguistic Society of America and the Philadelphia Classical Society. Additionally, he was a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Anthony (Tony) Kroch, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, died of cancer at the age of 75 on April 27th in his home in Philadelphia. He was attended by his wife, family, and dedicated caregiver, Joyce Allen.
Anthony was born to German Jewish refugees, Adolph and Hilde Kroch, who fled the Nazis following the arrest of his maternal grandfather on Kristallnacht in 1938. His parents, stripped of their citizenship due to the Nuremberg laws, and with no legal immigration path, lived in the United States without status. Under an amnesty in 1945, they re-entered the United States through Canada and were granted permanent residency. Anthony was born in 1946 in New York City, and later that year, his parents were naturalized as US citizens.
Anthony was raised in New York City, White Plains, NY, and Needham, Massachusetts, and graduated from Needham High School in 1963. He attended Harvard University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year and graduated summa cum laude in Anthropology in 1967. After graduating, he obtained a fellowship to support a year of world travel. Accompanied by his wife Martha, he took the opportunity to live among indigenous people in Brazil and Senegal, and studied the formal narrative structure of their stories and myths.
On his return to the United States, Tony began graduate studies in linguistics at MIT with the aim of furthering his understanding of narrative structure. Indeed, his doctoral thesis was far removed from his initial interest; it was one of the first investigations of quantifier scope in natural language. The thesis, completed in 1974, was published in 1979 by Garland Press. Tony's thesis advisor was Paul Kiparsky; the other members of his thesis committee were Noam Chomsky and Kenneth Hale.
His academic pursuits were punctuated by activism against the Vietnam War and academic racism. He was a member of the Progressive Labor Party and organized student protests in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Following appointments in the Anthropology Departments at the University of Connecticut and Temple University, he obtained a fellowship in 1978 with William Labov in the Linguistics Department at the University of Pennsylvania to conduct sociolinguistic interviews with upper-class Philadelphians. The analysis of these interviews was important in rounding out the description of the intricate pattern of Philadelphia speech that had emerged from interviews with working-class and middle-class speakers. In 1981, Tony joined the faculty of the Linguistics Department, where he taught and conducted research for the rest of his career, apart from periodic visiting professorships in the United States and abroad. He retired in 2020.
Tony's work in linguistics was notable for the breadth of its range and the depth of its insight. The great bulk of his work, both published and unpublished, was carried out in collaboration with others, in accordance with the convivial spirit that lit up all aspects of his life. In collaboration with Aravind Joshi in the University of Pennsylvania's Computer Science Department, he applied Joshi's formalism of Tree-Adjoining Grammar to characterize various constructions in natural language in a mathematically precise way. Perhaps most widely known is his work on syntactic change, which gave rise to a mathematical result known as the Constant Rate Effect. The result was published in 1989, in the very first volume of Language Variation and Change, the journal that he co-founded with William Labov and David Sankoff and co-edited from its inception until 2006. Around the same time, Tony also helped bring into existence, together with David Lightfoot and Ian Roberts, a conference called Diachronic Generative Syntax (DiGS), which continues up to the present.
In order to provide a stable infrastructure for the work on syntactic change, Tony pioneered the construction of large syntactically annotated historical corpora; he was assisted from the 1990s to the present by Ann Taylor, who continued to construct historical corpora after her appointment at the University of York, England, and by Beatrice Santorini. With Beth Randall, he developed tools to search the corpora, which formed the empirical basis for Tony's own work, but more importantly from his point of view, the basis for replication and extension by other researchers. The beauty of the results that he and his students were able to obtain resonated with researchers, including several outside of linguistics, to the point of motivating the construction of an increasing number of parsed corpora for other languages both historical and modern. The desire to build ever larger corpora in order to increase the statistical reliability of the results led Tony to collaborate closely with computational linguists, often students of Aravind Joshi's. A final strand of Tony's research investigated the syntax-semantics interface, specifically various types of copular sentences, with the aim of elucidating the overarching architecture of grammar.
Though he made his career in linguistics, Tony felt himself to be less a traditional linguist than an applied mathematician. Early on, as an undergraduate, he realized that his mathematical talent, though notably versatile, was not powerful enough to enable him to make a career in mathematics. Undismayed, he marshalled his forces in the service of driving linguistics in a scientific direction by mathematicizing the field wherever he saw or could create the opportunity.
Tony loved life, and especially, he loved the life of the mind. He was a gifted researcher, talented teacher, generous mentor, genial conversation partner, skillful debater, child of the Enlightenment, good friend and wise counsellor, haven in the storm and secret worry-wart, a bundle of paradoxes like life itself. He could be curt, but he was not mean. To many of us, he embodied the concept of mensh. He will be missed by scores of colleagues and students, both in the United States and around the world, and we remember his spirit with gratitude, respect, and affection. It is to be hoped that the various strands of his work will be carried forward. Nothing, but nothing, would give him greater joy!
Dr. Leigh Lisker, emeritus professor of linguistics, died on March 24, 2006, in Philadelphia. He was 87 years old.
A three-time Penn alumnus, Dr. Lisker received his A.B. in 1941, with a major in German, his M.A. in 1946, and a Ph.D. in 1949 in linguistics. He was a major figure in phonetics, working both at Penn and at Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, CT, where he was a senior scientist from 1951 until the end of his life. He collaborated with several phoneticians, principally Arthur S. Abramson. Dr. Lisker also made important contributions to Dravidian linguistics, including the book Introduction to Spoken Telugu, and did research comparing phonetic and phonological perceptions on the part of linguistically naive and linguistically sophisticated speakers of different native language backgrounds. He conducted such studies in collaboration with Dr. Abramson of the University of Connecticut, Bh. Krishnamurti of Hyderabad University, India, Adrian Fourcin of London University, and M. Rossie of the Institute de Phonétique at the Univervsité de Provence, Aix-en-Provence.
Dr. Lisker spent almost his entire career at Penn, where he was one of the first members of the linguistics department. He began as an assistant instructor of German in 1947 and began teaching linguistics in 1949. From 1951-1959 he was an assistant professor of linguistics and Dravidian linguistics, he was associate professor of linguistics and Dravidian linguistics,1960-1964, and professor of linguistics from 1965 until his retirement in 1989. He also served as chairman of the department of linguistics, 1970-1978. He was a visiting professor at Georgetown University, Princeton University, Columbia University, the Central Institute of Indian Languages (Mysore, India), and Osmania University (Hyderabad, India).
Dr. Lisker received several awards, including a 1967 Guggenheim fellowship and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Fulbright Foundation. He was elected fellow of the Acoustical Society of America in 1979.
Dr. Ellen Prince, professor emerita of linguistics, died of cancer on October 24, 2010, at her home in Philadelphia. She was 66 years old.
Born in Brooklyn in 1944, Dr. Prince earned a BA (1964) and MA (1967) in French from Brooklyn College. She did graduate work in linguistics at NYU before earning a PhD from Penn in 1974. She joined the faculty of the Penn Linguistics Department as an associate professor that same year. She was promoted to full professor in 1987 and served as chair of the department from 1993 to 1997. Dr. Prince also held a secondary appointment in the department of computer and information science. She retired and was accorded emeritus status in 2005.
She was a visiting professor at many universities in the US and abroad, including the University of Amsterdam, Charles University in Prague and Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Dr. Prince was also active in the affairs of the Linguistic Society of America, serving on the executive committee and in many other capacities. Among her many honors were the Presidency of the Linguistic Society of America in 2008 and election to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
A pioneer in linguistic pragmatics, Dr. Prince worked on her own and with many colleagues and students on various aspects of the subject. Several of her incisive and tightly argued papers became classics in the field. She is perhaps best known for her typology of information statuses in discourse, based on the study of naturally-occurring data; she also devoted major efforts to the study of the pragmatic functions of syntactic constructions, including the various species of cleft and left-periphery constructions, including topicalization and left-dislocation. She had a particular interest in Yiddish and used her knowledge of that language to do groundbreaking work on the cross-linguistic comparison of the pragmatic functions of syntactic constructions. In later years, she continued her work on the referential status of noun phrases in the framework of centering theory, as developed by colleagues Aravind Joshi, Scott Weinstein and Barbara Grosz.