Deaths elsewhere

  • Updated: September 26, 2010 - 8:05 PM

Jill Johnston, a cultural critic, memoirist and provocateur whose best-known book, "Lesbian Nation," emboldened women in the 1970s to identify themselves as lesbians and argued that gay women were crucial to the feminist movement, died Sept. 18 in Hartford, Conn., of complications of a stroke. She was 81.

Johnston gained prominence in the 1960s as a dance critic for the Village Voice. Her notoriety was cemented when she participated in a highly publicized town hall debate in New York City in 1971 that pitted feminist author Germaine Greer, the National Organization for Women's New York President Jacqueline Ceballos, literary critic Diana Trilling and Johnston against novelist Norman Mailer, whose anti-feminism diatribe "The Prisoner of Sex" was causing an uproar.

She told the audience, "All women are lesbians except those who don't know it yet."

Frederick Jelinek, who survived the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia to become a pioneer in computer research in America, helping to make it possible for computers to decipher and translate human speech, died on Sept. 14 in Baltimore. He was 77.

The cause was a heart attack, his son, William, said. The elder Jelinek was stricken in his office at Johns Hopkins University, where he was a professor.

He joined IBM's Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., in the early 1970s.

Jelinek, an electrical engineer, advocated the use of statistical tools. In his approach, spoken words are converted to digital form. The computer is then trained to recognize words and word order in sentences, based on repeated patterns and statistical probability.

His approach differed from one advocated by linguists.

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