Edward S. Klima

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Dr. Edward S. Klima died on September 25 at the age of 77 from complications of brain surgery. Dr. Klima was founder and professor emeritus of the Department of Linguistics at UC San Diego (my home department), adjunct professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and associate director of the Salk's Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience.

Dr. Klima's wife and longtime collaborator is the equally eminent Dr. Ursula Bellugi. Perhaps their best-known work is their book The Signs of Language (Harvard University Press, 1979), which was named the Most Outstanding Book in the Behavioral Sciences by the Association of American Publishers. This book was instrumental not only in establishing the importance of sign language research in linguistics and cognitive science more broadly, but also in affirming the finding — not widely appreciated at the time — that sign languages are natural human languages in the same way that spoken languages are. Drs. Klima and Bellugi were jointly awarded the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award by the American Psychological Association in 1993.

UCSD has a news release here, and the New York Times obituary is here.

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