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Title: Zellig Harris
Subtitle: From American Linguistics to Socialist Zionism
Written By: Robert F Barsky

In 1995, Robert Barsky met with Noam Chomsky to discuss his
work-in-progress, "Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent" (MIT Press, 1997).
Chomsky told Barsky that he should focus his attention instead on
midcentury linguist and activist Zellig Harris, who was, Chomsky modestly
insisted, more interesting than Chomsky himself. Intrigued, Barsky began to
research Harris (1909–1992) and discovered the story of a major figure in
American intellectual life "sitting in a corner in the middle of the
room"--part of crucial twentieth-century conversations about language,
technology, labor, politics, and Zionism. The intersecting worlds of
Harris’s intellectual and political activities were populated by such
figures as Louis Brandeis, Albert Einstein, Franz Boas, Nathan Glazer, and

Barsky describes Harris’s work in language studies, and his pioneering
ideas about discourse analysis, structural linguistics, and information
representation. He also discusses Harris’s part in the pre-1948 Zionist
movement--;when many Jews on the Left envisioned a socialist Palestine that
would be a haven not only for persecuted Jews but also for disenfranchised
Arabs and anyone seeking a sanctuary against oppression--;and recounts
Harris’s debates on the subject with Brandeis, Einstein, and a large group
of students involved with a Zionist organization called Avukah. And Barsky
describes Harris’s views on capitalism, worker-owner relations, and worker
self-management, the legacy of which can be found in some of his students’
writings, notably those of Seymour Melman. Barsky shows how Harris, as
mentor, teacher, and colleague, powerfully influenced figures who came to
dominate the twentieth century's political discussion-thinkers as different
as Noam Chomsky and Nathan Glazer.

Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: MIT Press
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Linguistic Field(s): History of Linguistics
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0262015269
ISBN-13: 9780262015264
Pages: 371
Prices: U.S. $ 29.95