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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 89
CHARLES F. HOCKETT
January 17, 1916–November 3, 2000
BY JAMES W. GAIR
CHARLES F. HOCKETT—KNOWN to friends, students, and colleagues as “Chas”—was a leading figure in American structuralist linguistics, which flourished particularly in the four decades from the 1930s to the 1960s and did much to define linguistics as a science. Structuralist linguistics was sometimes referred to as Bloomfieldian linguistics from one of its pioneering figures, Leonard Bloomfield, who produced the seminal 1933 work Language. Hockett considered Bloomfield his master, and referred to his own influential 1958 work A Course in Modern Linguistics as “a commentary on Language.” Hockett was considered by many to be the brightest young contributor to linguistic theory in the framework of structural linguistics, to which he contributed a number of basic concepts and issues. But he was by no means narrow in his scope, and he firmly believed linguistics to be a branch of anthropology, to which he also made serious contributions.
Hockett was the fourth child of Homer Carey Hockett, who taught American history at Ohio State University, and Amy Francisco Hockett. He entered Ohio State in 1932 at
This obituary is largely drawn, with permission, from one by the same author that appeared in the Linguistic Society of America journal Language 79(3)(Sept. 2003):600-613.