Dell Hymes

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I just heard that Dell Hymes died peacefully in his sleep last Friday (13 November 2009).    Linguists, anthropologists, and folklorists will all mourn his passing.  According to the grapevine, there will be a memorial gathering to remember him at the upcoming American Anthropological Association meeting in Philadelphia (specifically: Saturday, December 5, 7:30-9:30 P.M., in Grand Ballroom III at the Courtyard Marriott).  Dell's many scholarly accomplishments will be praised by others, people who know his work much better than I do; I have mostly admired his work from a distance, although I've often consulted his 1955 dissertation, The Language of the Kathlamet Chinook,  in my efforts to understand the structure of  the Northwest pidgin language Chinook Jargon.   But I have always been most grateful to Dell for the role he played in my own career — I'm reasonably sure that I would not have gotten tenure, all those years ago, if he had not written such a detailed and generous letter about my few and flimsy publications.

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6 Comments »

  1. marie-lucie said,

    November 16, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

    Thank you for passing this on, Sally. He was an inspiration to many.

  2. James C. said,

    November 17, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

    I have emailed with him several times and had always hoped to meet him. His few messages were terse yet inspirational. Alas.

  3. Prof. Kofi Agyekum said,

    November 20, 2009 @ 10:56 am

    It is so sad to hear about the death of such a great man in Ethnography of Communication and Anthropological Linguistics. I have used his ACRONYM SPEAKING and many of his works in a lot of my reaserch works in Akan traditional communication and linguistic anthropology. Without him I would not have got deeper insight into language and culture. May his SOUL rest in perfect peace.

    Kofi Agyekum Dept. of Linguistics, Univ. of Ghana, Legon Accra-Ghana.

  4. Iles Minoff said,

    November 21, 2009 @ 3:49 pm

    I just saw the article by Emily Langer in Friday's Washington Post. I have often thought about Dell and his family over the years since I was a grad student at Penn and his editorial assistant when the journal Sociolingustics was launched. I hopt to make it to the memorial service in Philadelphia. Thanks for posting.

    Iles Minoff, Arlington, Virginia

  5. Jorge L.R.Morell said,

    November 26, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

    For us Cuban Educational, Communication and Linguist anthrolologists, who did our PhD mainly based on Professor Hymes ´s contribution to these various and interraleted fields, his memory will always be alive and his example and dedication will always continue being as inspirational as close to our daily academic work.

  6. HERMINIA MENEZ said,

    May 25, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

    I JUST READ ABOUT THE PASSING OF PROF. DELL HYMES. HE WAS A GREAT INSPIRATION TO ME AND SHAPED PROFOUNDLY MY THINKING ABOUT FOLKLORE PERFORMANCE. I STILL REMEMBER THE LAST CLASS I TOOK FROM HIM AT PENN. MY CONDOLENCES TO HIS FAMILY.

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