S. I. Hayakawa

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Samuel Ichive "S. I." Hayakawa

In office
January 2, 1977 – January 3, 1983
Preceded by John V. Tunney]]
Succeeded by Pete Wilson

President of
San Francisco State University
In office
November 26, 1968 – July 10, 1973
Preceded by Robert Smith
Succeeded by Paul Romberg

Born July 18, 1906
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Died February 27, 1992 (aged 85)
Greenbrae, Marin County,
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican (1973)
Spouse(s) Margedant Peters Hayakawa
Children Three children
Alma mater University of Manitoba (Bachelor of Arts)
McGill University (Master of Arts)
University of Wisconsin at Madison (Ph.D.)
Occupation Linguist, university president

Samuel Ichive Hayakawa, known as S. I. Hayakawa or Sam Hayakawa (July 18, 1906 – February 27, 1992), was a linguist who served a single term representing California in the United States Senate from 1977 to 1983. A Republican, Hayakawa unseated Democrat John V. Tunney in 1976, as Gerald Ford topped Jimmy Carter in California. In 1982, Hayakawa was not a candidate for re-nomination and was succeeded by Moderate Republican Pete Wilson, who won the senatorial general election in a heavily Democratic year nationally and went on to become governor of the state.

Hayakawa was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to Japanese immigrant parents, Ichiro and Toro Hayakawa. He is best known for his popular writings on semantics and for his career as Professor and President of San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University). He was a world-renowned (perhaps the pre-eminent) semanticist, studying the history of language patterns and habits of thought. He wrote several internationally acclaimed books on semantics, including Language in Thought and Action, now in its sixth edition. He served as associate editor of many encyclopedias.

In 1950, Hayakawa became a lecturer/Professor at the University of Chicago. Hayakawa produced a series of television programs on semantics for National Education Television, while working in Chicago, increasing the awareness of linguistic issues within the academic community, and the general public at large. On radio, Hayakawa also conducted a series of lectures on another favorite pastime of his: Jazz.[1]

Hayakawa was an authoritative expert on language and a strong believer that English should be the official language of the United States. In 1981, he proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would achieve this. In 1983, along with Dr. John Tanton he founded an organization called U.S. English that supported English-only legislation.[2]

Hayakawa died at the age of eighty-five in Greenbrae, an unincoporated community in Marin County, California.

Quick Facts

Director/Member, Bohemian Grove


Professional / Public Service

  • Professor: Psychologist, Semanticist, teacher, and writer; instructor, University of Wisconsin (1936–39)
  • Professor: Associate Professor, Illinois Armour Institute of Technology (1939–47)
  • Professor: Lecturer, University of Chicago (1950–55)
  • Professor, San Francisco State University 1955-1958
  • Administrator: President, San Francisco State College (1968–73) becoming President Emeritus in 1973.
  • Columnist, Register & Tribune Syndicate 1970-1976
  • U.S. Senator, California 3-Jan-1977 to 3-Jan-1983 (Republican) Elected in 1976, and subsequently appointed on January 2, 1977, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John V. Tunney, and served from January 2, 1977, to January 3, 1983; was not a candidate for reelection in 1982.[4]


  • Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives; Hayakawa, Samuel I. (General Editor)
  • Modern Guide to Synonyms and Related Works (1968, nonfiction)
  • Karagueuzian, Dikran. Blow It Up! The Black Student Revolt at San Francisco State College and the Emergence of Dr. Hayakawa. Boston: Gambit, 1971.
  • Hayakawa, S.I. Choose the Right Word: A Modern Guide to Synonyms and Related Words. 1968. Reprint. New York: Perennial Library, 1987. Originally published as Funk & Wagnalls Modern Guide to Synonyms and Related Words.
  • “Education Revisited.” In The World Today, edited by Phineas J. Sparer. Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1975.
  • Language in Thought and Action. 1939. Enlarged ed. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978. Originally published as Language in Action.
  • Symbol, Status, and Personality. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963.
  • Through the Communication Barrier: On Speaking, Listening, and Understanding. Edited by Arthur Chandler. New York: Harper & Row, 1979.
  • Language, Meaning, and Maturity. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1954.
  • Our Language and Our World. 1959. Reprint. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1971.
  • The Use and Misuse of Language. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications, 1964.
  • Hayakawa, S.I., and William Dresser, eds. Dimensions of Meaning. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1970. Includes Hayakawa’s essays, “General Semantics and the Cold War Mentality,” and “Semantics and Sexuality.”
  • Paris, Richard, and Janet Brown, eds. Quotations from Chairman S.I. Hayakawa. San Francisco: n.p., 1969.

Research Collections

*Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Archives, Stanford, CA. Papers: 1977-1988. 385 manuscript boxes, 35 cubic foot boxes, 36 card file boxes, and 7 oversize boxes. Correspondence, memoranda, reports, documents, clippings, other printed matter, photographs, audiotapes, videotapes, and memorabilia relating to many aspects of American foreign relations and domestic policies.

  • Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Art, Washington, DC

Papers: Correspondence in Adolph Frederick Reinhardt papers, 1930-1967, available on 5 microfilm reels.