Greenberg, Joseph Harold
- Dennis Wepman
Greenberg, Joseph Harold (28 May 1915–07 May 2001), linguist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Jacob Greenberg ( né Jacob Zyto), a pharmacist and later an insurance salesman, and Florence Pilzer. He displayed an early talent for music and learned the piano from his mother and a local teacher well enough to present a public concert at Steinway Hall at the age of fourteen. However, an equal interest in languages took precedence, and he gave up the idea of a concert career. Greenberg was familiar with several European tongues from childhood, since he grew up with a Polish father whose family also spoke Yiddish and a mother whose family spoke German. He taught himself both Hebrew and Greek from grammar books he obtained while in elementary school and studied Latin and German in high school, from which he graduated in 1932. He entered Columbia University the same year and continued with his Latin and Greek studies while taking as many courses in other languages as he could; he also studied classical Arabic on his own....