Haskins Laboratories

The Science of the Spoken and Written Word

Leigh Lisker

LEIGH LISKER (1918—2006)

Obituary from University of Pennsyvlania Almanac
Reprinted with the kind permission from:
Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, April 11, 2006, Volume 52 Number 29.

Dr. Leigh Lisker, emeritus professor of linguistics, died March 24 in Philadelphia. He was 87.

A three-time Penn alumnus, Dr. Lisker received his A.B. in 1941, with a major in German, his M.A. in 1946, and a Ph.D. in 1949 in linguistics. He was a major figure in phonetics, working both at Penn and at Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, CT, where he was a senior scientist from 1951 until the end of his life. He collaborated with several phoneticians, principally Arthur S. Abramson. Dr. Lisker also made important contributions to Dravidian linguistics, including the book Introduction to Spoken Telugu, and did research comparing phonetic and phonological perceptions on the part of linguistically naive and linguistically sophisticated speakers of different native language backgrounds. He conducted such studies in collaboration with Dr. Abramson of the University of Connecticut, Bh. Krishnamurti of Hyderabad University, India, Adrian Fourcin of London University, and M. Rossi of the Institut de Phonétique at the Université de Provence, Aix-en-Provence.

Dr. Lisker spent almost his entire career at Penn, where he was one of the first members of the linguistics department. He began as an assistant instructor of German in 1947 and began teaching linguistics in 1949. From 1951-1959 he was an assistant professor of linguistics and Dravidian linguistics, he was associate professor of linguistics and Dravidian linguistics,1960-1964, and professor of linguistics from 1965 until his retirement in 1989. He also served as chairman of the department of linguistics, 1970-1978. He was a visiting professor at Georgetown University, Princeton University, Columbia University, the Central Institute of Indian Languages (Mysore, India), and Osmania University (Hyderabad, India).

Dr. Lisker received several awards, including a 1967 Guggenheim fellowship and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Fulbright Foundation. He was elected fellow of the Acoustical Society of America in 1979.

Dr. Lisker is survived by his daughters, Carol Kennedy and Lisa; son, Roy; and two grandchildren. Donations can be sent to the Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine St., Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Links to original obituary: (pdf