29.2775, All: Obituary: Urs Egli

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LINGUIST List: Vol-29-2775. Thu Jul 05 2018. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 29.2775, All: Obituary: Urs Egli

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Date: Thu, 05 Jul 2018 09:34:59
From: Klaus von Heusinger [klaus.vonheusinger at uni-koeln.de]
Subject: Obituary: Urs Egli

 
It is with great sadness that we announce the announce the death of Urs Egli,
who died unexpectedly on 1 July, 2018. He was active until his sudden and
unforeseen death and was able to pursue his intellectual, social and family
activities to their fullest.

In Urs Egli, linguistics in Constance and Germany are losing not only an
extraordinary academic personality, but also a person with an astonishing 20th
century intellectual biography. He was born near Bern in 1941. From 1960 to
1967 he studied General and Comparative Linguistics and Ancient Greek at the
University of Bern, interrupted by one semester at the University of Fribourg,
Switzerland. In 1964 he also studied mathematical logic at the University of
Neuchâtel and spent the academic year 1967/68 at the University of Cologne at
the Institute for Comparative Linguistics under Hansjakob Seiler. For health
reasons, he could not accept a scholarship to MIT to work with Noam Chomsky
that same year. In 1967 Urs Egli passed the Bernese diploma for highschool
teaching (Greek and Latin) and in the same year he received his doctorate
under the classical philologist Willy Theiler with his dissertation ''Zur
Stoischen Dialektik''. In this interdisciplinary work he was able to
reconstruct parts of Stoic language theory by combining the latest linguistic
methods, mathematical logic and detailed philological work. This lifelong
research focus later led to a project on Stoic logic and semantics which
Karlheinz Hülser was able to collect and publish as ''Die Fragmente zur
Dialektik der Stoiker'' in four volumes. 

During his doctoral studies, Urs Egli studied Greek, Latin and Indo-European
Studies as well as transformation grammar. In Cologne, he familiarized himself
with the latest developments in formal semantics (Montague) and began to
establish a second research focus in the field of formal semantics. In 1973 he
achieved habilitation under the general linguist Georges Redard with a thesis
entitled ''Integration of Semantics into Grammar'' at the University of Bern.
In 1975 he was appointed Professor of General Linguistics at the University of
Constance, founded in 1966, where he was active in research, teaching and
academic administration until his retirement in 2006. He led two research
projects in the Collaborative Research Centre 99 ''Formal Linguistics'' and
further developed his analyses of question semantics and anaphoras, thus
making a significant contribution to the intellectually so vibrant atmosphere
of Constance linguistics. In his research project ''(In)definitheit'' in the
beginning of the 1990s he introduced the Epsilon operator into the semantic
discussion, which later became very popular as 'choice function'. At the end
of the 1990s, he led a project on ''diachronic semantics'', a topic that has
also shown extremely high research dynamics in recent years. Together with his
wife Renata, he presented an overview of structuralist, generative and
semantic theories in the monograph ''Sprachsysteme - Logische und historische
Grundlagen der erweiterten Phrasenstrukturgrammatik''. Many of his writings
emerged from his courses, which were as committed as they were didactically
convincing. Until his retirement, he was able to convey his enthusiasm and
interest in linguistics to many young people.

Even after retiring, he continued to deal with the intellectual challenges of
Greek philology, stoic logic and modern semantics. In addition, he supported
his wife intensively in the planning and implementation of a philosophical
café - in keeping with the Stoa's cosmopolitan ethics: never obtrusive but
enlightened, unceasing and deeply didactic.

On 1 July, 2018, Urs Egli said a quiet unannounced farewell. Together with his
family, we mourn an extraordinary and highly esteemed researcher, committed
teacher and colleague.

The memorial service will take place on Thursday, 12 July 2018, at 2 p.m. at
the Evangelische Kirche Kreuzlingen, Kirchstrasse 19, 8280 Kreuzlingen,
Switzerland

Address for condolences: Renata Egli, Eichhornstr. 2b, 8280 Kreuzlingen,
Switzerland
Email: renata.egli at bluewin.ch

A more detailed description of Urs Egli's academic background and development
can be found on the homepage of Kai von Fintel:

http://web.mit.edu/fintel/egli-werdegang.pdf (in German: ‚Wie man in Europa
sowohl Altphilologe als auch Semantiker werden konnte’ by Urs Egli 2011)
http://www.kaivonfintel.org/my-academic-genealogy/ (summary in English)
http://www.kaivonfintel.org/my-academic-genealogy-part-2/
 


Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics



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