LINGUIST List 5.1032

Fri 23 Sep 1994

FYI: Obituary for Robert Austerlitz

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  1. , Obituary for Robert Austerlitz

Message 1: Obituary for Robert Austerlitz

Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 11:10:24 Obituary for Robert Austerlitz
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Subject: Obituary for Robert Austerlitz

The following obituary for Professor Robert Austerlitz
appeared in the New York Times on Sunday, 18 September.

Robert Austerlitz, an authority on linguistics whose
professorship was at Columbia University and whose fieldwork
ranged the globe, died on Sept. 9 in Calvary Hospital in
the Bronx. He was 70 and lived in the Morningside Heights
section of Manhattan.

He had cancer, his family said.

Professor Austerlitz retired in December from the Columbia
faculty after having been a full professor since 1965 and
chairman of the department of linguistics from 1965 to
1968. He had taught there since 1958.

His fieldwork took him to Hungary, to study Gypsy
folklore, and to Alaska, New Mexico and northern Japan --
places where he studied indigenous, preliterate tongues.

Among his scholarly interests were the languages and
cultures of northern Eurasia, the historical reconstruction
of grammar and vocabulary and the formal structure of poetry
and music.

His writings included "Finnish Reader and Glossary" (1963),
and he was the editor of "The Scope of American Linguistics"
(1976). Among the publications he coedited was, from 1960
to 1965, the journal Word. And in 1967, he put together a
map of language families of Eurasia for the Smithsonian

Professor Austerlitz was a fellow of the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences, a past president of the Linguistic
Society of America and the American Oriental Society and a
member or honorary or corresponding member of various other
learned bodies.

In 1972 and 1973, he was a senior fellow of the National
Endowment for the Humanities, and he had been a visiting
professor at Yale, Berkeley, Ohio State, the Universities
of Washington, Hawaii, Cologne and Helsinki, and elsewhere.
The awards and honors he received included Finland's Order
of the Lion.

He was born in Bucharest, Romania, came to the United
States in 1938 and earned a bachelor's degree from the
New School for Social Research in 1950 and M.A. and
PhD degrees from Columbia.

His wife, the former Sylvi Nevanlinna, whom he married in
1953, died in 1981.

He is survived by his companion, Victoria Salter; a daughter
Monica, of Minneapolis, and a son, Paul, of South Gate,
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