Thursday, 13 November 2008

Ed Klima

Ed Klima died recently at the age of 77. He was a linguist extraordinaire and also a very nice guy. When I was an undergraduate, I was infatuated with formal languages and their application. While taking musicianship, it occurred to me that harmony was a set of rules that could be formalized with grammars. Somehow (and I don't remember how), I was sent to Ed Klima. At the time, he was chair of the linguistics department, so I had to make an appointment to see him. He was soft spoken and quiet but interested, and so he set me to work on an independent study. My lasting impression of him is sitting out in the warm La Jolla sun. And my lasting conversation from him is this: "Klima: Do you read French?" (Me: "No."). Klima: "For an intellectual to not read french is a shame". (He wanted me to read his friend Ruvet in the original). (n.b. I can read technical french... now).

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