H. Allan Gleason Jr.

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Henry Allan Gleason, Jr. (1917-04-18 - 2007-01-13) was a linguist at the University of Toronto.


Gleason received his doctorate from the Hartford Seminary Foundation, where he also began teaching. After a two-year visiting position in India, he joined the University of Toronto's newly-formed Centre for Linguistic Studies in 1967. He retired in 1982. He died in 2007 in El Paso, Texas.

Gleason was also a lay pastor who had served as a missionary in his younger days as far afield as Appalachia and Punjab. One of his hobbies was church history, and he spent many weekends prowling the countryside seeking the folk history of obscure denominations.

He was married to Frances Everett for over 65 years.


Gleason is best known from his influential textbook Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics (Gleason 1955a), which was the first introductory textbook to gain general acceptance, and for some twenty-five years provided the rudiments of linguistic analysis for several generations of North American linguists. Accompanying the textbook was his Workbook in Descriptive Linguistics (Gleason 1955b). The exercises contained in the workbook provided practice exercises for students based on data from many languages from all parts of the world.


  • Gleason, H. Allan. 1955a. Introduction to descriptive linguistics. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. (Revised edition: 1965)
  • Gleason, H. Allan. 1955b. Workbook in descriptive linguistics. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. (Revised edition: 1967)


LINGUIST List obituary by William Forrest