Alexander-Zeev Guiora, professor emeritus of Linguistics, Psychiatry, and Psychology, passed away on October 28, 2015
Alexander-Zeev Guiora's research interests included psycholinguistics, specifically the psychology of language behavior, a systematic inquiry into the relationship between developmental templates such as, empathy, language ego, gender identity, and time perception on the one hand and language behavior, such as pronunciation in second language and obligatory structures in native language on the other.
The U-M Department of Linguistics mourns the passing of Alexander Guiora. The following remembrance was published in volume 66 of Language Learning, A Journal of Research in Language Studies.
A native of Hungary, Professor Guiora took undergraduate studies at Peter Pazmany University in Budapest before entering the Université de Paris, Sorbonne, where he received his Ph.D. degree in 1951.
From 1951 to 1958, Professor Guiora served in the Israeli Defense Forces, first as clinical psychologist at a military hospital, and then as chief clinical psychologist in the Surgeon General’s Office. In 1958, he was appointed chief psychologist at the Bat Yam State Hospital in Israel, in 1960 senior psychologist at the Israeli Federation of Labor Mental Health Clinic, and in 1963 clinical psychologist at the Stockton California State Hospital.
In 1964, Professor Guiora joined The University of Michigan as assistant professor of psychology in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology; in 1965, he was promoted to associate professor and in 1970 to professor. In 1979, in recognition of his contributions to psycholinguistics, Professor Guiora was appointed professor of linguistics. On his retirement in 1985, he was appointed Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Linguistics. He subsequently joined the University of Haifa as Professor of Psychology, a position he retained in emeritus status through to the early 2000s while also serving in the mid-1990s as President of the then newly-founded College of Yezreel in Israel.
Professor Guiora’s major research focus was language behavior and the relationships between language, cognition, personality, empathy, and identity. His research on the effects of alcohol on lowering inhibition and improving second-language pronunciation was widely cited for decades: Guiora, A.Z., Beit-Hallahmi, B., Brannon, R.C.L., Dull, C.Y. & Scovel, T. (1972). The effects of experimentally induced change in ego states on pronunciation ability in a second language: An exploratory study. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 13 (5), 1972.
Professor Guiora served the journal Language Learning for more than 28 years, first as editor and then as general editor and executive director. When he became editor in 1978, the journal was behind schedule and in financial disarray, despite its established reputation dating back to 1948. He turned it around, making it financially sound, well managed, and professionally edited.
Professor Guiora was a man of principle, of passion, and of action in pursuit of the twin aims of scholarship — the generation and dissemination of knowledge. Under his leadership, Language Learning increased from a biannual journal to a quarterly; the number of pages printed each year increased fivefold. Next was added an annual monograph, a series of selected articles, and then a Cognitive NeuroScience of Language Learningseries. According to Google Scholar Metrics, Language Learning currently ranks 1st among journals in Foreign Language Learning, 2nd among Language and Linguistics, and 3rd among all journals in Humanities, Literature and Arts.
He led us forward too as a learned society to provide direct support for research and scholarship through establishing, from 1999 to 2001, six programs of financial grants (which continue annually and are described each September in Issue 3 of Language Learning):
The Language Learning Visiting Assistant Research Professorship at the University of Michigan
The Language Learning Scholar-in-Residence Program
The Small Grants Research Program
The Dissertation Grants Program
The Roundtable Conference Program
The Language Learning Roundtable Conference on the Neuroscience of Language
Professor Guiora worked tirelessly over the years to make Language Learning what it is today.
Photo: Professor Guiora celebrating the Jubilee of Language Learning, Ann Arbor, 1998. Image courtesy of Language Learning.