Henry Gleitman

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Henry Gleitman (January 4, 1925 – September 2, 2015) was a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. [1] [2]

Psychology is the science of behavior and mind. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope. Psychologists seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of phenomena linked to those emergent properties, joining this way the broader neuroscientific group of researchers. As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.

University of Pennsylvania Private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence and the first institution of higher learning in the United States to refer to itself as a university. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.


Personal life

Gleitman obtained both his bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology: the bachelor's degree from the City College of New York, and his master's from the University of California. [3] Henry Gleitman was wed to another psychologist named Lila R. Gleitman. Together, they penned a book together called Phrase and Paraphrase. The book was released in 1970. [4] He fathered two daughters. Their names are Ellen Luchette and Claire Gleitman. Gleitman was born in Leipzig, Germany. He received his PhD in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. He then taught at Swarthmore College before joining the Penn faculty in 1953.

Leipzig Place in Saxony, Germany

Leipzig is the most populous city in the German federal state of Saxony. With a population of 587,857 inhabitants as of 2018, it is Germany's eighth most populous city as well as the second most populous city in the area of former East Germany after (East) Berlin. Together with Halle (Saale), the largest city of the neighbouring state of Saxony-Anhalt, the city forms the polycentric conurbation of Leipzig-Halle. Between the two cities lies Leipzig/Halle International Airport.

University of California, Berkeley Public university in California, USA

The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. It was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship campus of the ten campuses of the University of California. Berkeley has since grown to instruct over 40,000 students in approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering numerous disciplines.

Swarthmore College Liberal arts college in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

Swarthmore College is a private liberal arts college in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1864, with its first classes being held in 1869, Swarthmore was one of the earliest coeducational colleges in the United States. It was established to be a college "...under the care of Friends, at which an education may be obtained equal to that of the best institutions of learning in our country." By 1906, Swarthmore had dropped its religious affiliation and became officially non-sectarian.

Gleitman was a cognitive psychologist with interests in language (especially the relationship between semantics and syntax), but he claimed, "I'm probably better identified as a general psychologist whose research interests range over many of the traditional areas of psychological inquiry." [5] Gleitman was willing to work with students in any field of psychology if that student can interest him in his/her proposed field of research.

Language Capacity to communicate using signs, such as words or gestures

Language is a system that consists of the development, acquisition, maintenance and use of complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so; a language is any specific example of such a system.

Semantics is the linguistic and philosophical study of meaning in language, programming languages, formal logics, and semiotics. It is concerned with the relationship between signifiers—like words, phrases, signs, and symbols—and what they stand for in reality, their denotation.

In linguistics, syntax is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of sentences in a given language, usually including word order. The term syntax is also used to refer to the study of such principles and processes. The goal of many syntacticians is to discover the syntactic rules common to all languages.

Gleitman is best known for his authorship of Psychology, a classic textbook first published in 1981 used in many Introduction to Psychology classes, now in its eighth edition. [6]

Gleitman was married to fellow psychologist Lila R. Gleitman, an internationally renowned language acquisition researcher, who is also a Professor Emerita of Psychology and Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Lila Gleitman is a professor emerita of psychology and linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. She is an internationally renowned expert on language acquisition and developmental psycholinguistics, focusing on children's learning of their first language. Gleitman's research interests include, Language acquisition, morphology and syntactic structure, Psycholinguistics, syntax, and construction of the lexicon. Notable former students include Elissa Newport and Susan Goldin-Meadow.

Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language, as well as to produce and use words and sentences to communicate.

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It involves analysing language form, language meaning, and language in context. The earliest activities in the documentation and description of language have been attributed to the 6th-century-BC Indian grammarian Pāṇini who wrote a formal description of the Sanskrit language in his Aṣṭādhyāyī.

Major Accomplishments

In his field, Gleitman had been awarded by the American Psychological Foundation for the distinguished teaching in psychology award in 1982. He was also awarded the Abrams Award in 1988 as well as the Lindback Award in 1977. He is a very well rounded individual with many accomplishments, such as serving as president of the APA’S Division 1 (General Psychology) and Division 10 ( Psychology and the Arts). Within his five decades of teaching and educating other he has taught introductory psychology to over 40,000 students. [7]

Gleitman had an array of interest and accomplishments, such as being a known polymath, he was also involved in the arts of theatre in which he both acted and directed while at Berkeley, Philadelphia, and New York City. Besides his interest in psychology, theatrics was a major part of life and he worked with actors of all ages ranging from children all the way up to seasoned professionals. Gleitman would refer to himself as a bigamist because when it came to psychology and theatre, he dichotomized the thought of having to choose, but always found a way to entertain both. [8]


"A dream is a kind of nocturnal drama to which the only price of admission is falling asleep." – Psychology

"God must have loved the C student, because he made so many of them." – Henry Gleitman

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  1. "Dr Henry Gleitman". Philly.com. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  2. Landau, Barbara; Sabini, John; Jonides, John; et al., eds. (July 24, 2000). Perception, Cognition, and Language: Essays in Honor of Henry and Lila Gleitman. First Edition, Second Impression. ISBN   978-0262122283.
  3. "Death: Henry Gleitman, Psychology".
  4. Rozin, Paul (2018). "Journal Article Henry Gleitman". American Psychologist. 73 (7): 940. doi:10.1037/amp0000372. PMID   30284896.
  5. "Henry Gleitman's Homepage" . Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  6. Henry Gleitman, James Gross, Daniel Reisberg (2010), Psychology, ISBN   978-0-393-93250-8
  7. "Henry Gleitman | W. W. Norton & Company". books.wwnorton.com. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  8. "9/8/15, Death: Henry Gleitman, Psychology – Almanac, Vol. 62, No. 04". almanac.upenn.edu. Retrieved 2018-11-20.