SOAS University of London

Tribute to Emmon Bach

9 December 2014
Emmon Bach

The Linguistics Department is deeply saddened to announce that Professor Emmon Bach (1929-2014) passed away on 28 November in Oxford.

Emmon was a leading scholar in formal semantics, field linguistics, and the study of North American languages. Having spent most of his career at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he engaged more closely with linguistics in the UK in the 2000s, and had close ties with SOAS and the University of Oxford. 

He was closely involved with the study of endangered languages at SOAS, contributing to the successful SOAS bid which led to the establishment of the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project in 2002, and holding an ELDP grant for the documentation and analysis of Haisla and Henaaksiala (North Wakashan) of Kitamaat Village, British Columbia from 2004 to 2007. Emmon took an active part in many departmental activities, contributing to teaching, research and events. In 2010 he was an organiser of FirthDay which commemorated the 120th anniversary of the birth of J. R. Firth, first professor of general linguistics in the UK.   

Emmon provided inspiration for many students and colleagues here at SOAS in so many areas of his wide interests, including semantics, linguistic theory, language documentation and the history of linguistics. He will be remembered as a brilliant scholar and a kind and generous person.

The Language Log that celebrates the life and work of Emmon is here. Information about funeral arrangements can be found at