Harriet E. Manelis Klein

Posted: September 2021

The LSA regrets to announce the passing of longtime LSA member Harriet Klein (Montclair State University and Stony Brook University). Klein first joined the LSA in 1971, and was active in the early years of the Society's Committee on the Status of Women in Linguistics (now the Committee on Gender Equity in Linguistics) and also as a past Chair of the Program Committee. Her colleagues and family have collaborated on the obituary below.

Harriet E. Manelis Klein, linguistic anthropologist, passed away on September 4, 2021 in Briarcliff Manor, NY. Born on September 8, 1936 to Sol and Kate (Wolffs) Manelis in New York City, Harriet and her younger sister Marion grew up in an English and German-speaking household that also introduced them to elements of Yiddish, Polish and Arabic. Harriet attended high school in Far Rockaway where she excelled at her studies and met future husband Herbert Klein. After their marriage the couple moved to Chicago, where Harriet completed a B.A. in Classics/Ancient Languages at the University of Chicago (1958), studying Greek, Latin and Hebrew; she taught Greek and Latin at the University’s lab school. During this time, she and Herb became proud parents to Rachel, Daniel and Jacob. The family had extended stays in other countries due to Harriet and Herb’s research and visiting professorships. Harriet studied the Indigenous languages of Guaycurú (Toba)(Argentina) and Guayamí (Panama) and deepened her knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese. Her doctoral research resulted in her 1973 Columbia University dissertation A grammar of Argentine Toba: verbal and nominal morphology, published in Spanish in Uruguay in 1978. Harriet’s numerous articles and edited volumes focused on aspects of time and space at the formal level of language as well as identities, language use and cultural practices.

After brief teaching stints at the University of Toronto-Scarborough and the Universidad de la República in Montevideo, Harriet took up a tenure-track position at Montclair State College in 1972, where she served as Deputy Chairperson, Director of International Studies, Special Assistant to the President, and Full Professor. Harriet’s service to the profession was extensive: as Book Review Editor for the International Journal of American Linguistics, as program chair for multiple meetings of the American Anthropological Association and the Linguistic Society of America and as contributor to the International Congress of Americanists, the International Linguistics Association and the Society for the Study of Indigenous Languages. Through her work with the Committee of the Status of Women in Anthropology and the Committee on the Status of Women in Linguistics, Harriet worked tirelessly to advance gender equity in both disciplines. She supported her South American colleagues with warm hospitality, often sharing her room at annual professional meetings with those on tight travel budgets. She met and mentored Vera Mark, Stephanie Kane and Joan Gross when they were graduate students at UT-Austin, eventually becoming lifelong friends. Later she and Kane enjoyed a fruitful collaboration in several conferences and workshops and with whom she co-authored “Gringo/a as sociolinguistic fractal” in Ethnologies (Vol. 35, Issue 1, 2013).

Following her retirement from Montclair and her divorce and subsequent remarriage to Perry Kalick, Professor of Education at Lehman College, Harriet relocated to Long Island in 1998. She became a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Linguistics at Stony Brook University, an active and valued member of the Stony Brook linguistics community. Harriet and Perry took numerous international trips, attended chamber music concerts and enjoyed long walks by the Long Island Sound before Perry’s death in April 2020. Both took immense joy and pride as parents and grandparents to their large blended family. Harriet’s wide-ranging knowledge, wisdom, kindness, unwavering commitment and extensive service to her multiple disciplines will be greatly missed. A collection of her field recordings and notebooks may be consulted at the AILLA, the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America, at UT-Austin. An announcement concerning a scholarship in her name will be made at a later date.