Archive for the ‘Death notices’ Category

Lauri Karttunen

March 22, 2022

My old friend (for about 55 years now) and wonderful colleague Lauri Karttunen died two days ago (in the morning of 3/20). The briefest summary from the Stanford linguistics chair, Chris Potts, that morning:

Lauri was a towering figure in linguistics and NLP. Numerous observations, concepts, and hypotheses that we all take for granted in these fields trace to his foundational work. The breadth and depth of these contributions is really remarkable: discourse referents, presupposition plugs / holes / filters, implicative verbs, finite state morphology, Finnish morphophonology, natural language inference, and on and on. In all these areas and more, he helped to set the research agenda.

And of course we all know Lauri as a vibrant presence in Linguistics, in the NLP Group, and at CSLI [Stanford’s  Center for the Study of Language and Information]. He shaped the work of generations of Stanford scholars — including turning a number of them into Finnish scholars via his legendary Structure of Finnish courses with Arto [Anttila] and Paul [Kiparsky]!

I’m no longer able to write death notices afresh — for people whose work (of whatever kind) I’ve admired, mentors, colleagues, former students, friends, lovers, whose deaths now pile up in such numbers that I can no longer do them honor, as I once tried to do.

Today, though, I will manage some Musings On Life: on being of some age (only 4 months younger than me, Lauri was for practical purposes the same age as me); and on intimate personal and professional relationships (Lauri having had both with Annie Zaenen, his wife and frequent collaborator, who survives him).


Lila Gleitman

October 1, 2021

🐇 🐇 🐇 Discouraged day yesterday, which I tried to find relief from by posting something small but entertaining, but every posting I started ballooned into a sizable project — including this one, but I’m going to ruthlessly cut out a big file on Lila that I assembled a couple of years ago, when she was still alive and I wanted to celebrate her, but then it just became one of hundreds of other similar merely nascent projects, so instead I’m going to ramble on about Lila and my life and Chuck Fillmore and probably my Aunt Marion, who like Lila was a sporty woman, direct and funny and tonic to be around.

The spur for this posting was Lane Greene’s Johnson column in the 8/21/21 issue of the Economist (which I finally got to yesterday; I’m hopelessly behind on my reading as well as my writing — though I got the bulletin about Lila’s dying — on 8/8, at the age of 91 — from Barbara Partee the day it happened).


Joseph R. Applegate

September 26, 2021

Today’s morning name, of a linguist who deserves to be better known, though he received some belated recognition late in his life (he was born in 1925) and after his 2003 death. I’ll tell his story by, first, reproducing a thumbnail photo of him; and then, referencing websites about him, from some of the viewpoints that are significant to the story of his life. And finally, a note about another viewpoint that is, as far as I know, utterly missing from these official records.

The photo:


The best show I can do

August 2, 2020

From the New York Times on 7/3 (in print), in an obit for for “Freddy Cole, 88, Bluesy Performer Who Emerged From Nat’s Shadow” by Giovanni Russonello: this modest and touching statement from Cole about his goals late in life:

“What I worry about is sounding good. I go and play music and do the best show I can do.”

I think this would be an excellent maxim for me: go and write my stuff and do the best show I can do.


David Stampe

June 26, 2020

A preliminary death notice for David Stampe, an old friend and hugely influential colleague in my work in linguistics. A first pass, deficient in many of the customary details about academic careers, reproducing the death notice on Facebook from David’s son John (with some amendments in square brackets):


South Cackalacky

June 10, 2020

Today’s morning name: South Cackalacky, mildly derogatory slang for South Carolina (suggesting crudeness, rusticity, and remoteness: the boondocks). And Cackalacky, for the Carolinas taken together, with the same associations. (Sorry,  Charleston, Charlotte, and Research Triangle.)

Then, of course, such associations can be inverted, to connote local pride, down-hominess, and the like. As has happened in this case.


Socka Hitsch

February 14, 2020

… otherwise known as Christian Zwicky, which is why I note the death of an old eccentric rural Swiss roadside sock vendor. The big picture:

(#1) On the Archyde news website on 2/12


Roses now, or roses later

January 29, 2020

On Sunday at the Palo Alto shapenote singing, we came to #340 in the 1991 Denson Sacred Harp, Odem (Second), with the chorus “Give me the roses while I live”. Counterbalanced, as it turns out, on the preceding page by #339, When I Am Gone, with the second verse “Plant you a rose that shall bloom o’er my grave, / When I am gone”.

Roses now, or roses later.


The C.L. Baker Award

July 24, 2019

On March 6th, the Linguistic Society of America announced the creation of the C.L. Baker Award (named in memory of Carl Leroy Baker, known as Lee), and on July 12th put out the call for nominations.

Lee, who died in 1997, was my first Ph.D., the first person to finish a Ph.D. under my direction, with the excellent 1968 dissertation Indirect Questions in English (at the Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). Also a friend and a fine person (modest, gently humorous, earnestly principled, and humane).


Presidents Day weekend in Berkeley

February 16, 2019

A bit of personal and intellectual history, having to do with the fact that there was a period of years when on the Friday before Presidents Day my husband-equivalent Jacques Transue and I would drive from Palo Alto to Berkeley for the annual meeting of the BLS, the Berkeley Linguistics Society, then held in Dwinelle Hall at UCB over the three-day weekend. (It has since moved its dates to less crowded times during winter quarter.)