S. I. Hayakawa

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S. I. Hayakawa
SIHayakawa.jpg
United States Senator
from California
In office
January 2, 1977 – January 3, 1983
Preceded by John V. Tunney
Succeeded by Pete Wilson
Personal details
Born (1906-07-18)July 18, 1906
Vancouver, British Columbia
Died February 27, 1992(1992-02-27) (aged 85)
Greenbrae, California
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of Manitoba
McGill University
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Profession English professor

Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa (July 18, 1906 – February 27, 1992) was a Canadian-born American academic and political figure of Japanese ancestry. He was an English professor, and served as president of San Francisco State University and then as United States Senator from California from 1977 to 1983. Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, he was educated in the public schools of Calgary, Alberta and Winnipeg, Manitoba and received an undergraduate degree from the University of Manitoba in 1927 and graduate degrees in English from McGill University in 1928 and the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1935.

Academic career[edit]

Professionally, Hayakawa was a linguist, psychologist, semanticist, teacher and writer. He was an instructor at the University of Wisconsin from 1936 to 1939 and at Armour Institute of Technology (now Illinois Institute of Technology) from 1939 to 1948. Hayakawa was an important semanticist. His first book on the subject, Language in Thought and Action, was published in 1949 as an expansion of the earlier work, Language in Action, written since 1938 and published in 1941 to be a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. It is currently in its fifth edition and has greatly helped popularize Alfred Korzybski's general semantics and in effect semantics in general, while semantics or theory of meaning was overwhelmed by mysticism, propagandism and even scientism. In the preface, Hayakawa cautioned:

The original version of this book, Language in Action, published in 1941, was in many respects a response to the dangers of propaganda, especially as exemplified in Adolf Hitler's success in persuading millions to share his maniacal and destructive views. It was the writer's conviction then, as it remains now, that everyone needs to have a habitually critical attitude towards language — his own as well as that of others — both for the sake of his personal well being and for his adequate functioning as a citizen. Hitler is gone, but if the majority of our fellow citizens are more susceptible to the slogans of fear and race hatred than to those of peaceful accommodation and mutual respect among human beings, our political liberties remain at the mercy of any eloquent and unscrupulous demagogue.

In addition to such motivation, he acknowledged his debt as follows:

My deepest debt in this book is to the General Semantics ('non-Aristotelian system') of Alfred Korzybski. I have also drawn heavily upon the works of other contributors to semantic thought: especially C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards, Thorstein Veblen, Edward Sapir, Leonard Bloomfield, Karl R. Popper, Thurman Arnold, Jerome Frank, Jean Piaget, Charles Morris, Wendell Johnson, Irving J. Lee, Ernst Cassirer, Anatol Rapoport, Stuart Chase. I am also deeply indebted to the writings of numerous psychologists and psychiatrists with one or another of the dynamic points of view inspired by Sigmund Freud: Karl Menninger, Trigant Burrow, Carl Rogers, Kurt Lewin, N. R. F. Maier, Jurgen Ruesch, Gregory Bateson, Rudolf Dreikurs, Milton Rokeach. I have also found extremely helpful the writings of cultural anthropologists, especially those of Benjamin Lee Whorf, Ruth Benedict, Clyde Kluckhohn, Leslie A. White, Margaret Mead, Weston La Barre.

He was a lecturer at the University of Chicago from 1950 to 1955. During this time he presented a talk at the 1954 Conference of Activity Vector Analysts[1] at Lake George, New York in which he discussed a theory of personality from the semantic point of view. This was later published as The Semantic Barrier. This was a definitive lecture as it discussed the Darwinism of the "survival of self" as contrasted with the "survival of self-concept". His ideas on General Semantics influenced A.E. Van Vogt's Null-A novels, The World of Null-A and The Pawns of Null-A. Van Vogt in The World of Null-A (ie non-Aristotelian) makes Hayakawa a character, introducing him as: "Professor Hayakawa is today's Mr. Null-A himself, the elected head of the International Society for General Semantics."[2]

Hayakawa was an English professor at San Francisco State College (now called San Francisco State University) from 1955 to 1968. In the early 1960s, he helped organize the Anti Digit Dialing League, a group in San Francisco that opposed the introduction of all digit telephone exchange names. Among the students he trained were commune leader Stephen Gaskin and author Gerald Haslam. He became president of San Francisco State College during the turbulent period of 1968 to 1973, while Ronald Reagan served as governor of California and Joseph Alioto served as mayor of San Francisco, becoming president emeritus in 1973. Hayakawa wrote a column for the Register & Tribune Syndicate from 1970 to 1976.

Student strike at San Francisco State University[edit]

During 1968-69, there was a bitter student and Black Panthers strike at San Francisco State University for the purpose of gaining an Ethnic Studies program. It was a major news event at the time and chapter in the radical history of the United States and the Bay Area. The strike was led by the Third World Liberation Front supported by Students for a Democratic Society, the Black Panthers and the counter-cultural community, among others. It proposed 15 "non-negotiable demands", including a Black Studies department to be chaired by sociologist Nathan Hare independent of the university administration and open admission to all black students to "put an end to racism", an unconditional, immediate end to the War in Vietnam and the university's involvement with it. It was threatened that if these demands were not immediately and completely satisfied the entire campus was to be forcibly shut down.[3] Hayakawa became popular with conservative voters in this period after he pulled the wires out from the loud speakers on a protesters' van at an outdoor rally, dramatically disrupting it.[4][5][6] Hayakawa relented on December 6, 1968 and created the first-in-the-nation College of Ethnic Studies [2].

Political career[edit]

1977, Congressional Pictorial Directory

Hayakawa was elected in California to the United States Senate as a Republican in 1976,[7] defeating incumbent Democrat John V. Tunney. Hayakawa served from January 3, 1977, to January 3, 1983.

During his 1976 Senate campaign, he spoke about the proposal to transfer possession of the Panama Canal and Canal Zone from the United States to Panama. Hayakawa said, "We should keep the Panama Canal. After all, we stole it fair and square."[8] However, in 1978 he helped win Senate approval of the Torrijos–Carter Treaties which transferred control of the zone and canal to Panama. [9]

He did not run for reelection in 1982 and was succeeded by Republican Pete Wilson.

Hayakawa founded the political lobbying organization U.S. English, which is dedicated to making the English language the official language of the United States.[10] As a former U.S. senator in the late 1980s, he opposed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided for apologies and monetary reparations to persons of Japanese ancestry who were interned by the federal government during World War II.[11]

Hayakawa was a resident of Mill Valley, California, until his death in nearby Greenbrae, in 1992. He was also a member of the Bohemian Club. He had an abiding interest in traditional jazz and wrote extensively on that subject, including several erudite sets of album liner notes. Sometimes in his lectures on semantics, he was joined by the respected traditional jazz pianist, Don Ewell, whom Hayakawa employed to demonstrate various points in which he analyzed semantic and musical principles. Hayakawa was often favorite fodder for the news media reporters, every time he was found napping through important legislative voting.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Hayakawa, S.I. Choose the Right Word: A Modern Guide to Synonyms and Related Words. 1968. Reprint. New York: Perennial Library, 1987. Originally published as Funk & Wagnalls Modern Guide to Synonyms and Related Words.
  • Hayakawa, S.I. "Education Revisited." In The World Today, edited by Phineas J. Sparer. Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1975.
  • Hayakawa, S.I. Language in Thought and Action. 1939. Enlarged ed. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978. Originally published as Language in Action.
  • Hayakawa, S.I. Symbol, Status, and Personality. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963.
  • Hayakawa, S.I. Through the Communication Barrier: On Speaking, Listening, and Understanding. Edited by Arthur Chandler. New York: Harper & Row, 1979.
  • Hayakawa, S.I., ed. Language, Meaning, and Maturity. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1954.
  • Hayakawa, S.I., ed. Our Language and Our World. 1959. Reprint. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1971.
  • Hayakawa, S.I., ed. The Use and Misuse of Language. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications, 1964.
  • Hayakawa, S.I., and William Dresser, eds. Dimensions of Meaning. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1970. Includes Hayakawa’s essays “General Semantics and the Cold War Mentality” and “Semantics and Sexuality.”
  • Paris, Richard, and Janet Brown, eds. Quotations from Chairman S.I. Hayakawa. San Francisco: n.p., 1969.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ AVA on the World Wide Web
  2. ^ Alfred Elton Van Vogt (1977). The World of Null-A. Berkley. p. 11. 
  3. ^ Hayward, Steven. The Age of Reagan, Volume I. Crown Forum. p. 446. 
  4. ^ The Harvard Crimson, Song of Hayakawa
  5. ^ Yaga.com[dead link]
  6. ^ Leonard Library, The San Francisco State College Strike Collection, Chronology of events
  7. ^ Biography of Senator S.I. Hayakawa
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ staff (February 28, 1992). "Ex-Sen. Hayakawa Dies; Unpredictable Iconoclast ...". Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ Language politics and policy in the United States: Implications for the immigration debate*, Working Paper 141
  11. ^ Maki, Mitchell Takeshi; Kitano, Harry H. L.; Berthold, Sarah Megan (1999). Achieving the Impossible Dream: How Japanese Americans Obtained Redress. University of Illinois. pp. 104–105. ISBN 0-252-02458-3. 

References[edit]

  • S. I. Hayakawa at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Fox, R. F. (1991). A conversation with the Hayakawas. The English Journal, Vol. 80, No. 2 (Feb., 1991), pp. 36–40.
  • Haslam, Gerald, and Janice E. Haslam. In Thought and Action: The Enigmatic Life of S.I. Hayakawa (U. of Nebraska Press; 2011) 427 pages; scholarly biography

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
John V. Tunney
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from California
1977–1983
Served alongside: Alan Cranston
Succeeded by
Pete Wilson
Party political offices
Preceded by
George Murphy
Republican Party nominee for United States Senator from California
1976
Succeeded by
Pete Wilson