Halle, Morris

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HALLE, MORRIS (Pinkowitz ; 1923– ), U.S. linguist. Born in Liepaja, Latvia, Halle was educated in American universities, receiving his M.A. in linguistics from the University of Chicago in 1948 and his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1955. He began his teaching career as an instructor of Russian at North Park College, Chicago. Thereafter he lectured at Chicago and at Harvard. In 1951 he joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he became professor of modern languages in 1961. In the same year, he founded the university's doctoral program in linguistics. Halle taught linguistics, phonology, morphology, phonetics, and Slavic languages. Over the years he held positions at mit ranging from assistant professor and department head to institute professor. He retired from mit in 1996 and became institute professor emeritus.

Halle was renowned for his research in linguistic science. Russian, Slavic, and English were the languages most often involved in his linguistic studies. He also focused on the linguistic aspects of Swedish, Arabic, German, Polish, Old and American English, the dialects of southern Russia, and – in one case – Hebrew ("The Term Canaan in Medieval Hebrew," by R. Jakobson and M. Halle, in For Max Weinreich on his 70thBirthday (1964), pages 147–172). Halle noted the implications of the computer for linguistics, and co-authored "On the Recognition of Speech by Machine" (in Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Processing 1959 (1960), 252–6). He received recognition for his book The Sound Pattern of Russian (1959), and for two books he co-authored, The Sound Pattern of English (with N. Chomsky, 1968) and Preliminaries to Speech Analysis (1952, 5th repr. 1963).

Regarded by many as the father of the modern study of speech sounds (phonological and phonetic theory), Halle also wrote Fundamentals of Language (with R. Jakobson, 1956), English Stress (with S. Keyser, 1971), Problem Book in Phonology (with G. Clements, 1983), Language Sound and Structure (1984), Handbook of Phonological Theory (with W. Idsardi, 1994), and From Memory to Speech and Back (2002). He edited, among other books, Roman Jakobson: What He Taught Us (1983).

Halle served as vice president of the Linguistic Society of America in 1973 and as president in 1974. For decades he was a member of the Linguistic Society of America, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]