Roman Jakobson To Be Honored As Father of Modern Linguistics

Internationally renowned scholars in linguisties and literary fields will gather at MIT on Friday for a symposium and memorial service honoring Roman Jakobson an MIT institute Professor Emeites and founder of the modern study of linguistics

Jakobson who was also the Cross Professor of Emeritus Languages and Literatures and General Linguistics Professor Emeritus at Harvard died July 18 in Cambridge at the age of 85.

Participants, who will give lectures on Jackobson work include MIT President Paul E. Gray. Calvert Walkins, Harvard Professor of Linguistics and the Classics international poet. Octavio Paz; and Sir Edmund Leach an anthropological from Cambridge University in England.

Born in Moscow in 1896, Jakobson was one of the lesders of the Moscow Linguistic Circle and speardheaded an avant-grade move ment in theory of literature and art.

After the Russian Revolution, Jakobson moved to Czechoslovakia. There in collabration-with a Czech scholar, he founded a new discipline, phenology, which marked a turning point in the modern science of Ilnguistics.


Fleening the Nazi occupation. Jakobson went first to Sweden and then to the United States, becoming a professor at Columbia University (1946-1949). Harvard (1949-1967) and finally MIT (1957-1982). While at Columbia and Harvard, Jakobson worked on a defence of the authenticity of the Old Russian epic. "The Igor Tale."

MIT professor Paul Klpersky, who will speak at the symposium, yesterday lauded Jakobson for his work in potics and phonology which Klparsky called "largely instrument in defining the field of linguistics."

"He was the greatest teacher I've ever known," Kiparsky added.

Watkins praised Jakobson's efforts in "his quest for the essence of language," adding, "If the term genius means anything Jakobson was a genius."

The symposium will take place in MIT's Kresge Auditorium from 1.30 to 4.30 p.m. followed by the memorial service from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.