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BOOK NOTICES 653 parages the value of any crossdialectal phonemic analysis of English (51, 98), based on his somewhat unsophisticated exposition of phonemic analysis as the simple discovery of minimal pairs. With studied resoluteness G insists that [?] is an independent phoneme in all varieties of English, despite its limited distribution, the reappearance of the conditioning velar in forms like longer and strongest, and the failure of [rj] ever to appear morpheme-medially without the conditioning velar (cf. anger, finger). Yet despite these shortcomings and a couple of transcription errors, G's book is a wonderful compendium of data and an intelligent discussion of the same. [Brian M. Sietsema, Merriam -Webster, Inc.] A life for language: A biographical memoir of Leonard Bloomfield. By Robert A. Hall, Jr. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1990. Pp. x, 129. $29.00. Hall has crafted a readable and engaging portrait of a quite reticent man who was fiercely committed to building and applying a science of linguistics to American education and life. This slender volume revives a personality few people knew. Not an intellectual biography, it manages to give the reader a definite sense of what Bloomfield was like, even though H does not claim to have been an intimate of Bloomfield 's—from what he and others report, it appears that Bloomfield's only intimate was his fiercely protective wife. The story H tells is the tragedy of the collapse of one spouse and then the other after an unnecessary move from Chicago , where Mrs. Bloomfield was deeply rooted and where Bloomfield was highly regarded, though he apparently didn't know it. H also shows the saint at play, seeming, indeed, to give more space to 'the whimsical Bloomfield' than to Bloomfield's linguistic contributions. It bears stressing that, despite his ascetic refusal to celebrate his own accomplishments, Bloomfield's academic career and professional reputation steadily rose, culminating in the Sterling chair at Yale; he was revered by the next generation of linguists, to the point of having his name used as the appellation for the dominant American linguistics at the time of his death. Unfortunately. Mrs. Bloomfield was unable to enjoy—or even notice—this worldly success. The elevation to Yale turned out to be a poisoned reward for Bloomfield, as earlier it had been for Sapir. Neither of them recognized that they were appreciated and well off at Chicago . Neither of them foresaw the problems that moving to New Haven was going to create in their personal lives. The summer before the call to Yale, Bloomfield had his 'one major triumph as a teacher' at the 1938 Linguistic Institute (52, citing Charles Hockett in A Leonard Bloomfield anthology , 1970:546); but H does not explain what prompted the enthusiasm or describe what Bloomfield taught there. From his own experience , H reports that Bloomfield 'was a quiet but very firm and demanding teacher, insisting on exactitude in both translation and linguistic analysis' (42). H does not describe the qualities that made Bloomfield an inspiration to the linguists who were preparing analyses and teaching materials in potentially militarily strategic languages in the wartime Intensive Language Program. Not much is recoverable about Bloomfield's early years, but I think that H could have told readers more about how Bloomfield worked with informants and with younger linguists, both during the wartime endeavors and at Linguistic Institutes. H does not even draw on Ives Goddard 's painstakingly detailed reconstruction of Bloomfield's methods of recording, analyzing, and standardizing Menomini from a book H himself edited (Leonard Bloomfield: Essays on his life and work; Benjamins, 1987). The slenderness of the volume is thus not simply a function of lack of information. This is particularly the case with regard to H's portrait of Bloomfield 's posthumous eclipse. According to its publisher, the hardcover edition ofBloomfield's 1933 book Language remained in print until 1976, and sold more than twice as many copies after 1957 as before 1957. In contrast, until 1970 Bloomfield's other writings were not readily available. 1 would agree with H (92) that Bloomfield 's reputation was at a low ebb during the 1960s, but I think that Hockett's 1970 anthology was the turning point...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 653-654
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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