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Charles J. Fillmore


Charles J. Fillmore

Charles J. Fillmore
Born 1929 (age 84–85)
Fields Linguistics
Institutions Ohio State University,
Alma mater University of Minnesota (B.A, Linguistics);[1] University of Michigan (Ph.D., 1961)
Notable students Laura Michaelis, Len Talmy, Eve Sweetser
Known for Cognitive linguistics, case grammar, frame semantics, FrameNet
Notable awards 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Computational Linguistics
Spouse Lily Wong Fillmore

Charles J. Fillmore (born 1929) is an American linguist, and Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Michigan in 1961. Fillmore spent ten years at The Ohio State University and a year as a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences before joining Berkeley's Department of Linguistics in 1971.[1]

Fillmore received the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award of the Association for Computational Linguistics.

Early career

Fillmore has been extremely influential in the areas of syntax and lexical semantics. He was a proponent of Noam Chomsky's theory of generative grammar during its earliest transformational grammar phase. In 1963, his seminal article The position of embedding transformations in a Grammar introduced the transformational cycle, which has been a foundational insight for theories of syntax since that time. He was one of the founders of cognitive linguistics, and developed the theories of Case Grammar (Fillmore 1968), and Frame Semantics (1976). In all of his research he has illuminated the fundamental importance of semantics, and its role in motivating syntactic and morphological phenomena. His earlier work, in collaboration with Paul Kay and George Lakoff, was generalized into the theory of Construction Grammar.


His most recent major project is FrameNet, an on-line structured description of the English lexicon. Words are described in terms of the frames they evoke. Data is gathered from the British National Corpus, annotated for semantic and syntactic relations, and stored in a database organized by both lexical items and Frames. Due to the project's influence, issue 16 of the International Journal of Lexicography was devoted entirely to FrameNet.

FrameNet has inspired parallel projects, which investigate other languages, including Spanish, German, and Japanese.


His seminal publications include:

  • "The Position of Embedding Transformations in a Grammar" (1963). In Word 19:208-231.
  • "The Case for Case" (1968). In Bach and Harms (Ed.): Universals in Linguistic Theory. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1-88.
  • "Frame semantics and the nature of language" (1976): . In Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences: Conference on the Origin and Development of Language and Speech. Volume 280: 20-32.
  • "Frame semantics" (1982). In Linguistics in the Morning Calm. Seoul, Hanshin Publishing Co., 111-137.
  • (with Sue Atkins) "Starting where the dictionaries stop: The challenge for computational lexicography". (1994). In Atkins, B. T. S. and A. Zampolli (Eds.) Computational Approaches to the Lexicon. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 349-393.
  • Lectures on Deixis (1997). Stanford: CSLI Publications. (originally distributed as Fillmore (1975/1971) Santa Cruz Lectures on Deixis by the Indiana University Linguistics Club)


Fillmore has had many students, including Laura Michaelis, Christopher Johnson, Miriam R. L. Petruck, Len Talmy, and Eve Sweetser.

Personal life

Fillmore is married to Lily Wong Fillmore, a linguist and professor emeritus at Berkeley.[2]


External links

  • Official website
Preceded by
Eugene Charniak
ACL Lifetime Achievement Award
Succeeded by
Jerry R. Hobbs
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