Robert D. King

The Department of Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin regrets to report that our longtime colleague, Professor Emeritus Robert D. King, died on July 6, 2023, after a lengthy illness.

Bob was born on Nov. 25, 1936, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Georgia Tech were in mathematics. After receiving his doctorate in German Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin Madison, Bob joined the faculty of UT Austin in 1965 as an assistant professor in German and became a member of the Department of Linguistics in 1968.  Bob was the founding dean of the College of Liberal Arts (1979-1989, 1991-1993). From 1994-1998, he chaired our department. He served the LSA as an associate editor of Language (1972-1977) and was elected to the Executive Committee (1988-1991).

His areas of research expertise included historical linguistics, particularly of the Germanic languages and most especially Yiddish, and the relationship between language and politics. His books include Historical Linguistics and Generative Grammar (1969, Prentice-Hall), Nehru and the Language Politics of India (1997, Oxford), and Goodbye Chomsky, and Other Essays on Language (2021, Austin Macauley Publishers). He was a funny, engaging, and beloved undergraduate teacher.

Bob worked throughout his career to build the discipline of linguistics at UT Austin. He will be deeply missed. Condolences to his family, and remembrances of his life, may be posted here: