Robert Hetzron

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Robert Hetzron, born Herzog (31 December 1938, Budapest – 12 August 1997, Santa Barbara, California), was a Hungarian-born linguist known for his work on the comparative study of Afro-Asiatic languages, as well as for his study of Cushitic and Ethiopian Semitic languages.[1]


Born in Hungary, Hetzron studied at the University of Budapest. After the 1956 Uprising in Hungary, he moved to Vienna and then to Paris, where he studied with André Martinet and Joseph Tubiana. In 1960/61 he studied Finnish at Jyväskylä, Somali in London, and Italian at Perugia. He received his M.A. degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1961-1964 under the supervision of Hans Jakob Polotsky, and his Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles, 1964-1966 under the supervision of Wolf Leslau. From 1966 and until his death he was professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.[1] Hetzron offered original ideas; first of all, about lingusitic subgrouping in diachrony. According to his explicit and theoretically grounded classification of Semitic, Arabic was grouped in Central rather than South Semitic. He demonstrated that in Ethiopian Semitic, the Gurage group is not genetically valid. His attempt to integrate the description of stress and intonation into syntax is unique (see his Hungarian publications).

Selected publications[edit]

Hungarian Language[edit]

  • Hetzron, R. (1962) L'accent en hongrois. Paris, Bulletin de la Société de Linguistique de Paris 57, pp. 192–205.
  • Hetzron, R. (1964) Les syntagmes à totalisateur du hongrois. Word 20, 55-71.

Cushitic languages[edit]

  • Hetzron, R. (1969). The Verbal System of Southern Agaw. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press.  (Ph.D.-thesis)

Ethiopian Semitic languages[edit]

  • Hetzron, R. (1972). Ethiopian Semitic: studies in classification. Manchester. ISBN 0-7190-1123-X. 
  • Hetzron, R. (1977). The Gunnän-Gurage Languages. Napoli: Istituto Orientale di Napoli. 
  • Hetzron, R. (1996). "The two futures in Central and Peripheral Western Gurage". In Grover Hudson. Essays on Gurage language and culture: dedicated to Wolf Leslau on the occasion of his 90th birthday. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. pp. 101–109. 
  • Chamora, B.; Hetzron, R. Inor. Munich: Lincom Europa. ISBN 3-89586-977-5. 

Comparative study of Semitic and Afroasiatic languages[edit]

  • Hetzron, R. (1990). "Afroasiatic Languages". In Bernard Comrie. The World's major languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  • R.Hetzron, ed. (1997). The Semitic languages. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-05767-1. 


The 35th annual meeting of the North American Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics (NACAL 35, San Antonio, 2007), which was initiated by Robert Hetzron at Santa Barbara in 1972, is dedicated to his memory.


  1. ^ a b Siegbert Uhlig; et al., eds. (2005). "Hetzron, Robert". Encyclopaedia Aethiopica. 2: D-Ha. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 24–25. 


  • Gideon Goldenberg, "In memoriam Robert Hetzron", in: Aethiopica 2 (1999), pp. 198–200.
  • Andrzej Zaborski (ed.), New data and new methods in Afroasiatic linguistics: Robert Hetzron in memoriam. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 2001.
  • Andrzej Zaborski, "Robert Hetzron (1938-1997): bibliography", in: New data and new methods ... (see above), pp. xi-xix.

External links[edit]

  • NACAL - The North American Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics
  • An obituary by Grover Hudson.