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Edward S. Klima
Born Template:Birth date
Cleveland, Ohio
Died Template:Death date and age
La Jolla, California
Nationality American
Fields Linguistics
Institutions University of California, San Diego
Salk Institute
Alma mater Harvard University
Dartmouth College
Known for Research on the neurological bases of American Sign Language
Notable awards APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, 1992

Edward S. Klima (June 21, 1931 – September 25, 2008) was an eminent linguist who specialized in the study of sign languages. Klima's work was heavily influenced by Noam Chomsky's then-revolutionary theory of the biological basis of linguistics, and applied that analysis to sign languages.[1]

Klima, much of whose work was in collaboration with his wife, Ursula Bellugi, was among the first to prove that sign languages are complete languages and have complex grammars that have all the features of grammars of oral languages.[1] Widespread recognition of this fact was one of the catalysts to the cultural changes in and towards the deaf community in favor of encouraging the use sign language, which had often been discouraged in favor of lip reading in the past.[2]

Klima studied linguistics at Dartmouth College, earning his bachelor's degree in 1953. Two years later, he received a masters in the same subject from Harvard University. Starting in 1957, Klima worked as an Instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under Noam Chomsky. After earning his Ph.D in linguistics from Harvard University in 1965, he joined the linguistics department at the University of California, San Diego. Later he also became an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where his wife is a professor, and director of the Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience (of which Klima acted as associate director).[3]


In 1992 he was awarded the APA Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Psychology.