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Dell Hymes, 1927-2009
November 20, 2009 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Dell Hymes, a giant of sociolinguistic theory, has died. "He didn't have much patience for wasting your time in academic endeavors that wouldn't have a direct relevance for the world and for righting some of the inequalities in the world," [Dr. Nancy] Hornberger said. Or as Dr. Hymes himself put it, describing his approach to anthropology: "I am always interested in combating elitism and narrowness. . . . The justification for the existence of anthropology is to find out about the world, not produce third-rate philosophers."

Explore In Vain I Tried To Tell You on Google Books.

Prof. Hymes' Web Page at the University of Virginia

Jason Baird Jackson's thoughts on Prof. Hymes' passing.

And we lost another major figure in the history of Native American Studies recently as well, at nearly the same age. Karl Kroeber, 1926-2009.
posted by fourcheesemac (13 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
He didn't have much patience wasting your time in academic endeavors that wouldn't have a direct relevance for the world and for righting some of the inequalities in the world.

A quality all too rare.

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posted by Lutoslawski at 9:52 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll comment only once to say that while I did not know Dell well, we corresponded on the subject of poetry and anthropology when I was a graduate student, and his willingness to do so was inspiring. His qualities as a mentor were evident even on the typed pages of his letters.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:55 AM on November 20, 2009


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posted by iamkimiam at 9:56 AM on November 20, 2009


<3

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posted by WidgetAlley at 9:58 AM on November 20, 2009


Hymes also had a pretty significant impact on the communication discipline, particularly his work with John Gumperz on the ethnography of communication.

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posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:43 AM on November 20, 2009


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posted by zeugitai_guy at 10:44 AM on November 20, 2009


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posted by sciurus at 11:22 AM on November 20, 2009


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posted by zaelic at 1:26 PM on November 20, 2009


He was a wonderful scholar. I heartily recommend In Vain I Tried To Tell You; I quoted a couple of passages in my own obit post.
posted by languagehat at 1:41 PM on November 20, 2009


What a giant in my scholarly life.

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posted by bilabial at 2:38 PM on November 20, 2009


Out there walking round, looking out for food,
a rootstock, a birdcall, a seed that you can crack
plucking, digging, snaring, snagging,
barely getting by,

no food out there on dusty slopes of scree—
carry some—look for some,
go for a hungry dream.
Deer bone, Dall sheep,
bones hunger home.

Out there somewhere
a shrine for the old ones,
the dust of the old bones,
old songs and tales.

What we ate—who ate what—
how we all prevailed.

Old Bones, by Gary Snyder
it felt appropriate
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:52 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by jeanmari at 6:27 PM on November 20, 2009


Using the Instrumentality of the Metafilter Web site, I am able to communicate my emotional state at the news of Hymes' passing, in a manner that reflects the Metafilter community's Norms of Interaction and Interpretation:

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posted by MrBadExample at 7:59 PM on November 20, 2009


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