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  • Dean S. Worth In Memoriam
  • Henning Andersen

The Slavic linguistics community lost one of its great leaders in 2016. Dean Stoddard Worth, who lived in retirement in Lititz, Pennsylvania, passed away after a long illness on 29 February at the age of 88 years.

Worth, who was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1927, earned his BA at Dartmouth College, studied Slavic languages in Paris at the École nationale des langues vivantes and at the Sorbonne (Diploma and Certificat 1952) and went on to Harvard, where he completed the PhD in 1956 with a dissertation on a problem in Russian syntax, written under the supervision of Roman Jakobson. In 1957 he hired on at UCLA, where he rose through the ranks, retiring in 1994.

During his career Worth made significant contributions in Russian linguistics, descriptive as well as historical, with early publications on syntactic problems and numerous papers on morphophonemics and morphology, especially word formation. In many other studies he applied linguistic analysis to Russian texts from all periods, chronicles as well as literary, from the Igor’ Tale to Kantemir. He produced more than a dozen papers on rime and metrics, both in classical and in oral literature, where he showed a special interest in the Russian lament. His many studies of the language of these many text types from different periods formed the background for contributions to our understanding of the historical development of the Russian literary language. Besides publications in Russian linguistics, Worth wrote several studies of the southern Kamchatka language Kamchadal (Russian Itel’men). He also edited and coedited several conference volumes and was editor of the International Journal of Slavic Linguistics and Poetics from its first issue (1959) to its last (2006). In between he wrote some fifty reviews, about a quarter of the items in his list of publications.

Two collections of Worth’s research articles were published (1977, 2006). The latter lists his publications through 2004.

Among Worth’s book-length publications are a volume of edited Kamchadal texts, a Kamchadal dictionary, a Russian derivational dictionary (1970), a bibliography of Russian word formation (1977), a two-volume bibliography of Slavic linguistics (1966, 1970), and a monograph on the development of Russian grammar writing (1983).

At UCLA Worth played a decisive role in his department’s development into a preeminent center of Slavic studies, the result of judicious hiring and a [End Page 269] stream of visiting lecturers and professors from Slavic countries. He served several terms as department chair, as director of the Advisory Committee of the UCLA Center for Russian and East European Studies, as well as on a variety of campus-wide committees.

Beyond the walls of the university, Worth served on, and at times chaired, both the American and the International Committee of Slavists and at various times was a consultant to the RAND Corporation, the National Science Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Social Sciences Research Council.

Over the years Worth was awarded research funding from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the International Research and Exchange Board, the National Science Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1984 he was awarded the UCLA College of Letters and Science Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching, Research, and Service. In 1992 he received the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages. He was honored by colleagues with a Festschrift to celebrate his 65th birthday, and former students marked his 70th birthday and 40th anniversary at UCLA with a Festschrift for him in 1997.

His students and colleagues will remember him for his high standards in teaching and scholarship, his generosity, his hospitality, and his spirit of conviviality.

Dean Worth is survived by his wife, Professor Emerita Emily Klenin, and by a niece and two nephews.

Henning Andersen
Slavic Languages and Cultures Department
University of California Los Angeles
Humanities Bldg. Ste. 322
Los Angeles, CA 90095 USA
Received: October 2016


Birnbaum, Henrik and Michael S. Flier, eds. (1995) The language and verse of Russia: In honor of Dean S. Worth on his sixty-fifth birthday. Moscow: Izdatel’skaja firma Vostočnaja literatura RAN...


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