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Linguist Herbert L. Kufner dies at 88

January 22, 2017

Linguistics professor Herbert L. Kufner, Ph.D. ’56, died on Oct. 20, 2016, in Unterhaching, Germany. He was 88.

Kufner was an expert on German linguistics who specialized in teaching methods for German. In addition to publishing dozens of scholarly articles, he was also the author or editor of five books: “Toward a Grammar of Proto-Germanic” (1972), “Das Deutschland unserer Tage” (1964), “München” (1964), “The Grammatical Structures of English and German: A Contrastive Sketch” (1962) and “Strukturelle Grammatik der Münchner Stadtmundart” (1961).

“Dialect geography in its pre-sociolinguistic form was a great interest for Kufner,” said John Wolff, professor emeritus of linguistics. “He was also an avid fisherman, always out in the streams around Ithaca the first of the season, and served the fruits of angling adventures at his lively dinner parties.”

After receiving his doctorate from Cornell in 1956, Kufner was an instructor in German at Harvard University. He was appointed assistant professor of linguistics in the Division of Modern Languages at Cornell in 1958, and was promoted to full professor in 1965. Also in 1965, Kufner received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

During his tenure at Cornell he participated in such projects as Project Ezra, an $8 million equipment grant from IBM that funded faculty projects involving the use of microcomputers in instruction.

He is survived by his son, Gerald Kufner.

This story first appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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