In memoriam: Hideki Zamma

We have received some sad news about Hideki Zamma, and tributes from Shigeto Kawahara and Arto Anttila. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.

From Shigeto Kawahara

Hideki Zamma passed away on March 22nd, 2016, a week after he was involved in a car accident, at the age of 46. Hideki was a very active phonologist, and professor at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies. His research focused on phonological variation and formal phonological theory. He worked on various topics including rendaku, Japanese accent, English stress, and formal properties of local conjunction. His recent book “Patterns and Categories in English Suffixation and Stress Placement: A Theoretical and Quantitative Study” (Kaitakusha, 2013), based on his PhD thesis submitted to Tsukuba University (2012), explored item-specific behaviors of different English suffixes within the framework of unranked constraints in Optimality Theory, which won a prize from the English Linguistic Society of Japan as well as Ichikawa Prize. In addition to his research, he served as a board/organizing/editorial member for the Phonological Society of Japan, the Phonetic Society of Japanese, and the English Linguistic Society of Japan. In addition to being a great researcher, he was also a caring and dedicated teacher. Hideki kept trying to make linguistic materials as assessable as possible, for example, by teaching distinctive features based on “slips of the ear” patterns, using a famous Japanese TV show. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and students.

From Arto Anttila:

Hideki was a visiting scholar at Stanford in 2009-10. His 2012
Ph.D. thesis “Patterns and Categories in English Suffixation and
Stress Placement: A Theoretical and Quantitative Study” is a
remarkable new contribution to the difficult area of English word
stress where Hideki goes beyond earlier work in presenting an
innovative Optimality Theoretic approach to quantitative patterns in
the English lexicon. In 2014 his work earned him two prestigious
awards: the Ichikawa Prize and the ELSJ Prize from the English
Linguistic Society of Japan. Hideki was an extremely kind and
thoughtful person and a good friend. He will be missed by many who got to know him at Stanford.


8 thoughts on “In memoriam: Hideki Zamma

  1. Shigeto Kawahara

    Allow me to post my personal memories with him too. I think I first met Hideki in 2001, when I was a premature undergraduate student, soon to be becoming a UMass graduate student. I presented a talk at Phonological Association in Kansai (PAIK), and Hideki was the other speaker. He presented something about unranked constraints. Although I do not remember what he was analyzing, I remember that he was trying to examine the predictions of unranked constraints, in terms of how they would be different from other stochastic models of OT (who knew this was going to become that fantastic book later in 2013). After the meeting, he took me around Kyoto, which I enjoyed a lot. Ever since then, he was like a “big brother” for me.

    When I was still working at Rutgers, he asked me if I was willing to help him with the grant proposal that he had in mind. I said sure. And I did whatever I could as an “international consultant”. And when I moved to Keio, we started to collaborate extensively on that grant, we got it! It makes it extra sad that Hideki left us before that grant expires. Hideki, we will make something big out of that grant.

    Hideki and I also contributed a chapter “Generative treatments of rendaku”:

    We just returned corrections to the editors a few weeks ago together. I wish I could dedicate the chapter to his memory—I have asked the editor if that’s possible, even if this is after we returned our proofs.

    I always liked the way he presented his talks, very honest, sincere, but always a little bit of humor, if you know what I am talking about. I miss him. He is irreplaceable in our field. I miss you, big brother.

    Shigeto Kawahara

  2. Junko Ito and Armin Mester

    We first met Hideki when he was a beginning graduate student at Tsukuba University in the early 90’s. The next time we met him was at the 1993 phonology meeting at Osaka University of Foreign Studies organized by Haruo Kubozono, which later turned into the well-known annual “Phonology Forum” in Japan, where we were invited to give a series of lectures on “Recent Trends in Theoretical Phonology”. We presented the then-brand-new Optimality Theory at this occasion. But we were not quite ready for Hideki’s probing questions, which showed that he had already read (and critically assessed) the details of Prince and Smolensky’s ms. Since then, he has been a good friend, and we spent many evenings of nomi-kai together after workshops and conferences–although Hideki was sometimes the designated driver, so he couldn’t drink. One of the memorable phrases by Professor Haraguchi comes to mind: ‘kare-wa kuruma-da’, when Armin tried to pour beer into Hideki’s glass. Because of our Kyoto family connection, we were invited to Hideki and Yuko’s wedding–one of our happiest memories. Hideki was one of the few formal phonologists in Japan. We will miss him dearly.

    Junko Ito and Armin Mester

  3. Kazutaka Kurisu

    I first talked with Hideki when I gave a talk at the Phonetic Society of Japan at Meikai University over 20 years ago. We were both graduate students at that time, and we discussed morphological truncation in Japanese. Since then, I have enjoyed conversation with him. He was always calm and incredibly a nice person. As a researcher, I was impressed with his invited talk at the 4th Seoul International Conference on Phonology and Morphology (Hanyang University, Seoul) in 2007. Building on Lexical Phonology, his talk concerned how English suffixes are to be categorized. This study was based on an amazingly enormous amount of data and showed his meticulous methodology. Hideki and I are in the same generation, and it is too early to lose him. I cannot believe yet that Hideki passed away. I sincerely thank Hideki for everything he has done to me, for his great academic achievement, and the development of the Phonological Society of Japan.

  4. Manami Hirayama

    I know Zamma-san not for a long time, but his sad news was nothing but unbelievable and sad to me when I heard it – it had been only about ten days since I saw him in the Phonology Festa. I can’t imagine how I would feel if someone even closer to me passed away. Although I didn’t know him very well, Zamma-san was always friendly to me when I saw him at the conferences. I would always enjoy the conversation with him. We also both live in Kyoto, so I felt he was one of the reliable neighbour phonologists. He was too young to go. We miss him. Rest in peace.

  5. Kohei Nishimura

    Hideki’s funeral was held on March 26 at Kyoto. It seemed to me as if he was just sleeping and about to wake up with his bright smile. I last saw him at Phonology Festa on March 11, just 3 days before he had the accident.

    He always gave me much warmhearted advice both for my studies and for my jobs. He was the inspector of Phonological Society of Japan when I started to work at the secretariat in 2013, and helped me a lot.

    As Shigeto said, he was not like “sensei” to me, but “nice big brother.”

  6. Tim Vance

    Hideki was born in 1969, just a few weeks before I graduated from high school, so I wasn’t quite old enough to be his father. He was more like a nephew than a son.

    I first met him in 2010 at the Phonology Forum in Shizuoka, and he was kind enough to invite me to do an intensive class at his university (KCUFS) the following summer. I thoroughly enjoyed the class, but spending time with Hideki was even more fun.

    He was a loyal member of my Rendaku Project at NINJAL and an important contributor to the progress that we made. A paper that he co-authored with Shigeto is going to appear later this year in book published by John Benjamins (Sequential Voicing in Japanese Compounds: Papers from the NINJAL Rendaku Project). The book is going to be dedicated to his memory.


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