In Memoriam: Charles J. Fillmore (PhD 1962)


Feb 17, 2014 Bookmark and Share

Fillmore

Charles Fillmore graduated from the University of Michigan Linguistics Department in 1962 with a dissertation titled, “A System for Characterizing Phonological Theories.”  As reported by the International Computer Science Institute, “Fillmore received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, after which he spent three years in the U.S. Army stationed in Japan, intercepting coded Russian conversations on short–wave radio. When he was off duty, he walked around the streets with a notebook and worked at teaching himself Japanese. After he was discharged — the first U.S. soldier to be discharged locally in Japan — he taught English at a Buddhist girls' school while taking classes at Kyoto University. He returned to the U.S. to receive his doctorate at the University of Michigan, and then spent ten years teaching at Ohio State University in Columbus. He spent one year as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in what he calls "senseless luxury," and came to UC Berkeley in 1971.”

Charles Fillmore was instrumental in several different areas of linguistics, including case grammar and frame semantics, construction grammar and computational lexicography and lexical semantics. Following his retirement from the faculty of the University of Berkeley in 1995, he became the project director for FrameNet. FrameNet is based on Frame Semantics and represents an on-going project to build a lexical database of English that is machine readable and based on annotated examples of words in use. In 2012, Fillmore received a Lifetime Achievement award from the Association for Computational Linguistics for his work on FrameNet. The video of his acceptance speech is available and well worth viewing for anyone interested in the field.

Charles Fillmore served as the primary advisor to notable linguists working within semantics and discourse, including Amy Dahlstrom, Laura Michaelis, and Eve Sweetser.  Charles Fillmore served as the President of the Linguistic Society of America in 1991 and was a lifetime member.

Fillmore passed away on Feb. 13, 2014.  We are honored to count him among our illustrious graduates.

Image from: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/~bgzimmer/fillmore.png