Professor John Ohala, 1941–2020

The IPA is saddened to announce the death of John J. Ohala, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, President of the IPA 1995–1999.

Among other honours he was a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, the Linguistic Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Speech Communication Association.

Long-time friend and colleague Ian Maddieson writes:
The field of phonetics has lost another of its giants. John Ohala died at home in Berkeley, California, on August 22, 2020. John’s contributions were enormously influential. He persistently advocated for an integrated view of phonetics and phonology and for a solid experimental foundation for any claims made. He argued for the importance of the role of the listener in sound change, for the necessarily physiological foundation of many phonological patterns, and for the encoding of ethological values in phonetic form. He was a superb experimentalist, creating tools to do the job when none previously existed. John founded the Phonology Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, when he joined the faculty in 1970 and continued in that role until his retirement in 2004. He was President of the IPA from 1995–1999, and organized the first International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP) in 1991 at Banff, Alberta and the 14th International Congress of the Phonetic Sciences in San Francisco in 1999, among many other services to our discipline. He is survived by his wife Manjari, a noted phonetician in her own right, and is mourned by his many friends and admirers.