Remembrances of Pieter Muysken

Remembrances of Pieter Muysken

May 12, 2021 in In Memoriam, Notes

Larry Martin (TD) reports on the death of Pieter Muysken (TD):

“I’m sad to report that Pieter Muysken (TD) died on April 11 after a short battle with cancer. Anyone who knew him at Durfee and TD will remember, in the words of a common friend, ‘the overalls, the hair, the rosy cheeks, the cheerful exuberance.’ Pieter focused on each of his friends: looking straight at you, listening intently, and expressing boundless enthusiasm for whatever you said. He laughed all the time. Pieter was also blazingly smart – excelling at studies even though, born in South America and raised in Holland, English was maybe his fourth language.  After college, Pieter returned to Holland, where he became a prominent linguist, specializing in, as a colleague reports, ‘contact linguistics, especially creole studies and code-mixing, plus the languages of the Andes.’ He was awarded the Spinoza Prize, Holland’s highest scientific award, in 1998. On a site commemorating his scholarly career,, almost a hundred former students and colleagues shared tributes to his rigor, kindness, and generosity.  On a personal note, Pieter and I stayed close during the nearly fifty years since graduation, visiting each other in Amsterdam, at his ramshackle farmhouse in France, and in New York; he was a true and caring friend. Pieter leaves behind two grown children, Hannah and Daniel.”


Deborah Bernick (TD) adds her remembrance:

“Pieter was curious, fun-loving, perpetually upbeat, down-to-earth and KIND. He was a brilliant guy in bib overalls and long-hair.  We all remember great intellectual discussions with him and taking fun excursions or “adventures” — even in the middle of New England snowstorms. He was one of the very few undergrads from overseas in those days and remained a fount of knowledge about other cultures. I got to visit Pieter & his family in Holland in 1970, taking a Yale charter flight to Europe. Years later, in 2012, we had a nostalgic mini-reunion with a TD friend in New York City. It was a blessing to have known Pieter at Yale and to realize over the years what a great scholar, teacher, and linguist he became.”

Share your Comments

You must be logged in to post a comment.