Morris Halle
Halle in 2011
Morris Pinkowitz

(1923-07-23)July 23, 1923
Liepāja, Latvia
DiedApril 2, 2018(2018-04-02) (aged 94)
Academic background
Alma materHarvard University, Columbia University, University of Chicago, City College of New York
Doctoral advisorRoman Jakobson
Academic work
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Notable studentsMark Aronoff
John Goldsmith
Bruce Hayes
Mark Liberman
Elisabeth Selkirk
Moira Yip
Arnold Zwicky

Morris Halle, Pinkowitz (/ˈhæli/; July 23, 1923 – April 2, 2018), was a Latvian-born American linguist who was an Institute Professor, and later professor emeritus, of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The father of "modern phonology",[1] he was best known for his pioneering work in generative phonology, having written "On Accent and Juncture in English" in 1956 with Noam Chomsky and Fred Lukoff and The Sound Pattern of English in 1968 with Chomsky. He also co-authored (with Samuel Jay Keyser) the earliest theory of generative metrics.[2]

Life and career

Halle was born - as Morris Pinkowitz (Latvian: Moriss Pinkovics) - on July 23, 1923, in Liepāja, Latvia. In 1929 he moved with his Jewish family to Riga.[3] He arrived in the United States in 1940 and graduated from George Washington High School.[4] From 1941 to 1943, he studied engineering at the City College of New York. He entered the United States Army in 1943 and was discharged in 1946, at which point he went to the University of Chicago, where he got his master's degree in linguistics in 1948. He then studied at Columbia University under Roman Jakobson, became a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1951, and earned his PhD from Harvard University in 1955. He is considered to be, with Noam Chomsky, the founder of the modern linguistics department at MIT.[5] He retired from MIT in 1996, but he remained active in research and publication. He was fluent in German, Yiddish, Latvian, Russian, Hebrew and English.[6]

Halle was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1960.[7] He was President of the Linguistic Society of America in 1974.[8] He was also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.[9][10]

Halle was married for fifty-six years to painter, artist and activist Rosamond Thaxter Halle (née Strong), until her death in April 2011. They had three sons: David, John and Timothy.[11]

Halle resided in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He died on April 2, 2018, at the age of 94.[12]


  1. ^ Thus considered by Noam Chomsky, see Morris Halle (MIT): On the morpho-phonology of the Latin verb, introduced by Noam Chomsky.
  2. ^ Liberman, Mark (2016-01-14). "Morris Halle: An Appreciation". Annual Review of Linguistics. 2 (1): 1–9. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-060515-105131. ISSN 2333-9683.
  3. ^ E.K. Brown, R.E. Asher, and J.M.Y. Simpson, Encyclopedia of language & linguistics, Volume 1. 2006.
  4. ^ "In memoriam: Sylvain Bromberger". MIT Press. 2018-10-31. Retrieved 2022-06-06.
  5. ^ Marcus, Gary (19 July 2013). "Happy Birthday, Morris Halle". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  6. ^ "Institute Professor Emeritus Morris Halle, innovative and influential linguist, dies at 94". MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  7. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Morris Halle". Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  8. ^ "Presidents | Linguistic Society of America". Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  9. ^ "Morris Halle". Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  10. ^ "Halle, Morris |". Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  11. ^ "Rosamond Thaxter Strong Halle (Unknown-2011) -..." Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  12. ^ Dizikes, Peter (April 3, 2018). "Institute Professor Emeritus Morris Halle, innovative and influential linguist, dies at 94". MIT News. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.