From: William Forrest <lingdeptchass.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Obituary: H. Allan Gleason Jr. 1917-2007
H. Allan Gleason Jr.
April 18, 1917 – January 13, 2007
It is with regret that the Department of Linguistics at the University of
Toronto announces that Professor Emeritus Henry Alan Gleason passed away on
January 13, at the age of 89. He was a major figure in American linguistics
in the last half of the past century. He is survived by his wife of over 65
years, Frances Everett, son and daughter-in-law Henry and Jan Gleason, and a
daughter Martha, and many other loving family members. A memorial service
will be held in El Paso Texas on January 25.
Henry Allan Gleason, Jr., came to the University of Toronto in 1967 as a
Professor on the graduate faculty of the Department of English and in the
newly-formed Centre for Linguistic Studies. He had previously been a
visiting professor in India for two years, and before that he was a
Professor of Linguistics at the Hartford Seminary Foundation where he also
received his doctorate. He was known as a captivating lecturer and teacher,
and an amazing storyteller. His international reputation rested largely on
his Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics, published by Holt, Rinehart and
Winston in 1955 and revised in 1965. That book was the first introductory
textbook to gain general acceptance, and for some twenty-five years it
provided the rudiments of linguistic analysis. One could argue that the
textbook defined the field, distinguishing it in content and methodology
from the disciplines in which linguists of that time were located:
anthropology, rhetoric, grammar, language teaching, and translation.
Accompanying the textbook was his Workbook in Descriptive Linguistics, also
published by HRW in 1955 and revised in 1967. The exercises contained in the
workbook provided practice exercises for students based on data from many
languages from all parts of the world, and provided a paradigm for teaching
the discipline that exists to this day. At the University of Toronto,
Professor Gleason taught a graduate seminar called Structures of English for
literature students and a number of courses in the Linguistics department,
from the introductory course to specialist courses in Hindi analysis.
Professor Gleason was also a lay pastor who had served as a missionary in
his younger days as far afield as Appalachia and Punjab. One of his hobbies
was church history, and he spent many weekends while he lived in Toronto
(and everywhere else he lived) prowling the countryside seeking the folk
history of obscure denominations. He retired at age 65 in 1982.
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