Dell Hymes

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Dell Hathaway Hymes (June 7, 1927, Portland, Oregon - November 13, 2009, Charlottesville, Virginia) was a sociolinguist, anthropologist, and folklorist whose work dealt primarily with languages of the Pacific Northwest. He was one of the first to call the fourth subfield of anthropology "linguistic anthropology" instead of "anthropological linguistics". The terminological shift draws attention to the field's grounding in anthropology rather than in what, by that time, had already become an autonomous discipline (linguistics).

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Early life and education

He was educated at Reed College, studying under David H. French, and graduated in 1950 after a stint in prewar Korea. His work in the Army as a decoder is part of what influenced him to become a linguist. Hymes earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1955,[1] and took a job at Harvard University.

Even at that young age, Hymes had a reputation as a strong linguist; his dissertation, completed in one year, was a grammar of the Kathlamet language spoken near the mouth of the Columbia and known primarily from Franz Boas’s work at the end of the 19th century.

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