Alexander Ostrower, 78, an author and retired investment counselor who had been an area resident since the early 1940 died of cancer Saturday in Sibley Memorial Hospital.

He was the author of the two-volume "Language, Law, and Diplomacy: A Study of Linguistic Diversity in Official International Relations and International Law," which was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 1965.

In those volumes he illustrated the problem of language in international law, giving examples of linguistic barriers leading to international misunderstanding.

Mr. Ostrower was a native a Plock, Poland, and was an attorney and municipal court judge in Warsaw before World War II. It was while still living in Poland that he published his first book, "Evening Moods," a volume of Yiddish poems in 1922.

Shortly after the invasion of Poland by German forces in 1939 Mr. Ostrower escaped via the Soviet Union and the Far East. He settled in the Washington area in 1941.

He was counsel and general manager of the old Xoslo real estate company in Washington during the 1940s. In the 1960s, he worked on Polish language broadcasts for the Voice of America.

Mr. Ostrower earned a master of laws degree from the University of Warsaw. In 1952, he earned a master's degree in comparative law from George Washington University's law school.

Survivors include his wife, Karolina, of the home in Washington; a daughter, Irene Rosenthall, of Charleston, S.C., and two grandchildren.