SEBEOK, Thomas Albert

SEBEOK, Thomas Albert (Hungarian Sebők). Budapest 9.11.1920 — Bloomington 21.12.2001. U.S. (born Hungarian) Linguist and Semiotician. Son of Dezső Sebők and Vera Perlmann. After school in Budapest moved to the U.S.A. when 17, naturalized 1944. B.A. 1941 University of Chicago. M.A. 1943 Princeton, in anthropological linguistics (under R. Jakobson). Ph.D. 1945 Princeton. From 1943 taught at Indiana University in Boomington, retired 1991 as Distinguished Professor of Linguistcs. Married 1947 Mary Eleanor Lawton (divorced), one daughter, and 1973 the semiotic scholar Donna Jean Umiker, two daughters.

Sebeok was a many-sided linguist. Himself he conducted fieldwork on Winnebago og Wisconsin and Aymara of Bolivia. At university he developed the study of Uralic, Altaic, Central Asia and Tibetan. He created zoosemiotics, developed semiotics and worked on psycholinguistics, ethnolinguistics and stylistics.

Publications: “An Examination of the Austroasiatic Language Family”, Language 18, 1942, 206–217; “Phonemic System of Santali”, JAOS 63, 1943, 66f.

– Diss. Finnish and Hungarian case systems: their form and function. Manuscript 1945.

– Edited: Current Trends in Linguistics. 5. Linguistics in South Asia. 832 p. the Hague 1969.

– Edited: Portraits of Linguists. A Biographical Source Book for the History of Western Linguistics 1746–1963. 1-2. Bloomington & London 1966.

– Much on Finno-Ugrian, on general linguistics, on semiotics and zoosemiotics, etc., more than 450 books and articles.

Sources: M. Danesi & A. Valdman, Language 80, 2004, 312-317; Wikipedia with photo.

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