Joseph Harold Greenberg (May 28, 1915 – May 7, 2001) was an American linguist, known mainly for his work concerning linguistic typology and the genetic classification of languages.
Early life and education
Joseph Greenberg was born on May 28, 1915, to Jewish parents in Brooklyn, New York. His first great interest was music. At the age of 14, he gave a piano concert in Steinway Hall. He continued to play the piano frequently throughout his life.
After graduating from James Madison High School, he decided to pursue a scholarly career rather than a musical one. He enrolled at Columbia College in New York in 1932. During his senior year, he attended a class taught by Franz Boas concerning American Indian languages. He graduated in 1936 with a bachelor's degree. With references from Boas and Ruth Benedict, he was accepted as a graduate student by Melville J. Herskovits at Northwestern University in Chicago and graduated in 1940 with a doctorate degree. During the co