Emmon Bach

On Language Log yesterday, an obituary for Emmon Bach (6/12/29 – 11/29/14) by Barbara Partee. Briefly: Emmon was born in Japan, gew up in Fresno CA and Boulder CO, finished a Ph.D. in Germanic Studies at Chicago, went on to German and then Linguistics at UTexas-Austin and ultimately to a long career at UMass-Amherst, and retired to an appointment at SOAS (University of London) and then at Oxford.

From Barbara:

As the Oxford linguists write, “Emmon was one of the brightest and most influential figures in formal semantics, and was also well known for his work on morphology and North American languages [notably those of British Columbia].  He also continued to do innovative research on morphology and semantics”

Now a few more personal notes.

I first met Emmon in the early 1960s, while I was a grad student. Emmon was an early adopter of generative grammar, trained outside the MIT orbit but attracted to Chomsky’s early work on syntax; Chuck Fillmore, Paul Postal, Paul Schachter, and Bob Stockwell were other early adopters. (Barbara Partee and I were early grad students at MIT.)

Here’s Emmon at a 1967 conference at UCLA on the English Syntax Project sponsored by the Air Force and directed by Stockwell, Schachter, and Partee there from 1966-68:

Yes, I was there, and so were dozens of others.

(The English Syntax Project resulted in a two-volume unpublished report and then in an edited and reduced version of this report, the 1973 book Major Syntactic Structures of English.)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: