Joshua Fishman 1926-2015

On LinguistList (26.1159), two death notices for Joshua Fishman, from Ofelia Garcia at CUNY and from Ghil’ad Zuckerman in Adelaide. From Garcia:

A beloved teacher and influential scholar, Joshua A. Fishman passed away peacefully in his Bronx home, on Monday evening, March 1, 2015. He was 88 years old. Joshua A. Fishman leaves behind his devoted wife of over 60 years, Gella Schweid Fishman, three sons and daughters-in-law, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. But he also leaves behind thousands of students throughout the world who have learned much from him about sociology of language, the field he founded, and also about the possibility of being a generous and committed scholar to language minority communities. As he once said, his life was his work and his work was his life.

Joshua A. Fishman, nicknamed Shikl, was born in Philadelphia, PA, on July 18, Yiddish was the language of his childhood home, and his father regularly asked his sister, Rukhl, and him: “What did you do for Yiddish today?” The struggle for Yiddish in Jewish life was the impetus for his scholarly work. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a Masters degree in 1947, he collaborated with his good friend, Max Weinreich, the doyen of Yiddish linguistics, on a translation of Weinreich’s history of Yiddish. And it was through Yiddish that he came to another one of his interests – that of bilingualism. …Yiddish and bilingualism were interests he developed throughout his scholarly life.

The local connection:

In 1988, he became Professor Emeritus [at Yeshiva University] and began to divide the year between New York and California where he became visiting professor of education and linguistics at Stanford University.

So for part of each year, he and I were colleagues. Learnèd, passionate, and humane — and with a delightful sense of humor.

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