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Murray Emeneau, 101; Founded UC Berkeley Linguistics Department

September 13, 2005|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Murray Barnson Emeneau, 101, an expert in Sanskrit and Dravidian languages who founded the UC Berkeley Linguistics Department, died Aug. 29 in his sleep of natural causes at his Berkeley home.

Born Feb. 28, 1904, in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, Canada, Emeneau studied French, German and Latin in high school and Greek and Latin at Canada's Dalhousie University.

He was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in England and earned his doctorate in Sanskrit and classical languages at Yale.

After teaching Sanskrit at Yale, he traveled to India in 1936 to study Dravidian languages, including Toda, Badaga, Kolami and Kota.

His 21 books include grammar texts and other works on those languages.

He joined the Berkeley faculty in 1940, teaching Sanskrit and general linguistics until his retirement in 1971.

In 1953, Emeneau persuaded UC Berkeley to establish a Department of Linguistics and became its first chairman.

He also set up what became the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages, which continues to document indigenous languages of California and the continental United States.

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