obituary and memorial events for Anna
jean-christophe.verstraete at ARTS.KULEUVEN.BE
Sat Aug 27 18:48:44 UTC 2011
Dear ALT members,
We would like to share with you another obituary for Anna Siewierska,
written by Barry Blake, Willem Hollmann, Nigel Vicent and Anne Wichmann.
You may also have heard about two memorial events for Anna. On September
8th, there will be a commemoration in the opening session of the SLE
conference (<http://sle2011.cilap.es>). Later on Anna's colleagues at
Lancaster University are planning a memorial event, in which ALT will
also participate. We will keep you informed about the date.
It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Anna
Siewierska, who died in a tragic road accident in Vietnam on 6 August 2011.
Her career in linguistics spanned three decades, with many of us still
referring to her very first book on the passive in the languages of the
world: The Passive: A Contrastive Linguistic Analysis (1984). This
monograph is distinguished in at least two respects. First, it was the
published version of her Monash University MA, a remarkable outcome for
a dissertation at this level and testifying to the great promise she
already held very early in her career. Second, in it she compared many
different theories. This comparative theoretical angle remained a
considerable merit of her research, setting it apart from that of many
of her peers. Anna’s preferences always lay with functionally oriented
theories, for some time especially the version of Functional Grammar
developed by Simon Dik and colleagues in Amsterdam but more recently
also construction-based approaches. However, she included formal
approaches in her scope as well.
She was of course most well known for her work in linguistic typology,
where in addition to her cross-theoretical perspective she also stood
out in terms of the sheer breadth of topics she covered: voice, valence,
word order, agreement, person, and more recently dialect grammar. In the
1990s she coordinated the constituent order group of the European
Science Foundation project EUROTYP, which culminated in the very
substantial volume on this topic: Constituent Order in the Languages of
Europe (1997). She did not only carry out her research alone, but also
with others, especially her husband Dik Bakker. Since 2009 she had been
involved in a large collaborative project on Referential Hierarchies in
Morphosyntax, funded by the ESF and AHRC.
Anna was an active member of various professional organisations,
including the Philological Society and the Linguistics Association of
Great Britain. She had served as President of the Societas Linguistica
Europaea (2002) and, at the time of her death, was the President of the
Association of Linguistic Typology. In 2003 she was elected a member of
the Academia Europaea.
Anna was a truly cosmopolitan scholar, working on the full variety of
the world’s languages, teaching and lecturing around the world and
holding positions in several different countries. She was a lecturer at
the University of Gdansk (1980-1990), senior researcher and lecturer at
the University of Amsterdam (1988-1992), and before that, she also
taught at Monash University (1982-1984), where she obtained her PhD
(1985). Since 1994 she had been Professor of Linguistics and Human
Communications at Lancaster University. In addition to this, she was a
frequent Visiting Professor at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary
Anthropology in Leipzig.
In addition to being an excellent researcher, Anna was an outstanding
colleague and a wonderful person. One could always knock on her door for
some insightful work related advice, a friendly chat, and a joke about
something decidedly unlinguistic, such as the latest episode of ‘Mad
Men’. Many of us will remember her as being extremely hard working, but
as having many interests outside linguistics too, including hiking in
the Lake District, visiting the theatre, travelling, and reading. She
was a great host, who would always leave one wondering where she found
the energy to entertain her guests in the way only she could yet be so
incredibly productive professionally at the same time.
Our deepest feelings of sympathy naturally go out to her family first
and foremost, including her husband Dik Bakker -- but everyone who has
had the pleasure of working with and getting to know her will greatly
miss her exceptional expertise, energy, and warmth of character.
Barry Blake (La Trobe University)
Willem Hollmann (Lancaster University)
Nigel Vincent (University of Manchester)
Anne Wichmann (University of Central Lancashire)
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