About Emeritus Morris Halle


During the early years, before MIT had a graduate program in linguistics, my work focused mainly on speech acoustics, a subject about which I knew very little when I arrived. I very quickly learned a lot about it thanks to various colleagues who were working in nearby offices and with whom I socialized a great deal. Not being married at the time, I would have dinner at various nearby restaurants, none of which was memorable for its cuisine, but all of which provided excellent settings for long discussions and hot exchanges. These discussions would continue after dinner in Building 20. The topics discussed ranged from cybernetics and information theory to technical problems in circuit theory, and the grounding I received in those areas has stood me in good stead for the rest of my career. There was a great variety in the backgrounds of the people. There were no computer scientists in the 1950s, but there were many electrical engineers, psychologists, neurophysiologists, and linguists. One of my frequent discussion partners was Ken Stevens, who was then in the Acoustics lab, and some of our discussions have resulted in joint publications, the first appearing in 1959 and the latest in 1991, with another planned for 1998.