When Kazuko Inoue was already in her forties when she entered the doctoral program in Linguistics at U-M. During her time at Michigan, she discovered generative grammar. Her dissertation (completed in 1964, later published as A Study of Japanese Syntax, The Hague: Mouton, 1969 [E]) was in fact the first book-length, comprehensive generative study of the Japanese language, to be followed by S.-Y. Kuroda’s influential 1965 MIT dissertation.

Below you will find a short remembrance from the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) and a full obituary written by LSA member Naoki Fukui.

In Memoriam: Kazuko Inoue, 1919-2017

The LSA regrets to share news of the passing of Kazuko Inoue in May. After discovering generative grammar at the LSA Summer Institute in 1960, she became one of the leading generative linguists in Japan. She was a beloved teacher and prolific researcher who also served as president of the Linguistic Society of Japan and of Kanda University of International Studies, where she created graduate programs in linguistics. She was an Honorary Member of the LSA from 1992.

Generative Linguistics pays its respects: Kazuko Inoue (1919-2017) by Professor Fukui

Obituary: Kazuko Inoue (1919 – 2017)
Naoki Fukui
Sophia University, Tokyo

Kazuko Inoue, Professor Emerita and former President of Kanda University of International Studies, died in Tokyo, on May 3, 2017.  She was 98 years old.  Inoue-sensei, as all of us Japanese-speaking linguists call her (though absolutely without any authoritarian connotations that the expression sensei (lit. “teacher”) sometimes tends to carry) has been a great leader of generative linguistics in Japan, almost from the very beginning of its history in the early 1960s.  While certainly an influential and highly successful researcher, Inoue-sensei was also an ideal teacher and an effective and respectable administrator, who put to use in each of these domains her deep insight and tremendous talent for liberal, warm, and egalitarian human interaction that were her most notable characteristics.

Inoue’s academic career had begun rather late as compared with most others’ — she was already in her forties when she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1964.  But it was a remarkably productive and successful one.  She has worked on a wide range of important topics of Japanese grammar, such as case-marking, topicalization, passives and causatives, relativization, reflexivization, quantifier float, the structure of noun phrases, “tough” construction, various functions of sentence-final particles as they pertain to discourse, and so on, and has published numerous books and articles both in English [E] and in Japanese [J].  I will focus on only the major books below.

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