Haiim B. Rosén 1999


On Saturday, October 2 (1999), Professor Haiim B. Rosén passed away in Paris, and the funeral took place today in Jerusalem. Rosén was the most important expounder of structuralism in Israel. He was a charismatic teacher, and hundreds of graduates of the Department of Linguistics at the Hebrew University remember his ongoing three-part introductory course spanning all the years of the BA, entitled "Foundations of Language Analysis", covering synchronic linguistics, diachronic linguistics, and comparative and typological linguistics. As graduate students we always came back to this course, to better understand what we might have missed before. In all his other teachings we always experience love and intimate knowledge of the themes and languages discussed.

Early in the 1950s, Rosén declared that there was a new language in Israel, Israeli Hebrew, which has its own état de langue, deserving synchronic investigation. This language, said Rosén, was not an immature mixture of its historical components to be corrected an shaped by prescriptivists, but rather it showed clear signs of normal behavior through regular internal language processes. A decade of linguistic and cultural debates followed this declaration, which paved the way for all the research conducted on Israeli Hebrew since then.

Rosén was both a structuralist linguist and a philologist, and I have no doubts that his many contributions to Indo-European linguistics, Semitics, and to Greek philology, as well as many other domains, will remain an asset to the linguistic community for many years to come.

Ron Kuzar (via FUNKNET, with kind permission of the author)