LINGUIST List 32.1740

Tue May 18 2021

All: The Iranian Linguistics Community Lost a Legend

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 13-May-2021
From: Simin Karimi <>
Subject: The Iranian Linguistics Community Lost a Legend
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The Iranian linguistics community lost a legend this week: Professor Mohammad Reza Bateni, the father of modern linguistics in Iran. He was the first to introduce his students and the linguistics communities in Iran to structural linguistics and then to generative linguistics through his teachings at the University of Tehran and his numerous books and articles. Many of his students are now training younger linguists in Iran and around the world.

Professor Bateni was born on December 30, 1934 in Isfehan-Iran, and passed away on May 11, 2021 in Tehran-Iran. He received his BA in English from Daneshsara-ye Aali (Institute of Higher Education) in Tehran and his MA in linguistics from University of Leeds in England. He also spent two years conducting research at University College London. Upon his return to Iran, he obtained his PhD in linguistics from the University of Tehran. He was later hired as a professor at the University of Tehran where he trained numerous linguists till he was forced into retirement in 1981 after the Islamic revolution imposed its ‘cultural revolution’ on the Iranian academia. Professor Bateni also spent time as a researcher in the Linguistics Departments at MIT and University of California, Berkeley. He has published a large number of books and articles introducing structural and generative linguistics, and discussing various syntactic, morphological and semantic aspects of the Persian language. Some of his books have been republished up to 22 times.

During the last decades of his professional life, Professor Bateni devoted his work to creating some of the best dictionaries related to Persian, including one on complex predicates in this language. His innovative style in writing dictionaries is testimony to his vast linguistic knowledge and his deep understanding of the Persian language.

Professor Bateni strongly opposed the dictatorship during the era of the last Shah of Iran, and even more so during the highly oppressive and corrupt Islamic regime which has ruled Iran for the past 42 years. He was never reluctant to express his opposition against both dictatorships and faced the consequences. He refused to receive awards for his publications offered to him by the Islamic regime.

On a personal level, he was my advisor and mentor at the University of Tehran when I was an MA student of linguistics. He was one of the most caring, dedicated, effective and knowledgeable teachers I had in my own education in three different continents. I established a valuable friendship with him and his family which I have cherished during the last several decades.

Professor Bateni’s passing has left a huge vacuum in the Iranian linguistics community. However, his influence on our field will continue through his numerous publications. Many of the linguists he trained will continue his path and legacy around the globe. He will also be remembered for his brave and steadfast opposition to dictatorship, injustice and violations of Human Rights. May he rest in peace.

Simin Karimi

Linguistic Field(s): Discipline of Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Persian, Iranian (pes)

Page Updated: 18-May-2021