Christian Lehmann#

Short laudatio by Anna Siewierska#

Christian Lehmann has been a leading figure in European Linguistics since the early 1980-ies. His work in linguistic typology and linguistic theory has been highly influential. He has made substantial, widely cited, contributions to a range of topics most notably: syntactic categories, grammatical relations, clause linkage, lexical typology, agreement, predicate classes, relative clauses, semantic roles and possession. Above all, however, he is considered to be the major theoretician behind the nowadays so widely practiced grammaticalization approach to language change. There is no treatment of the issue which has not been inspired and does not overtly acknowledge his 1982 exposition of the approach (revised in 1995). In fact his contribution is considered by many to continue to be the single most important work on the topic. A similar view is frequently expressed with respect to his typological treatment of relative clauses.

Christian Lehmann’s research is renowned for, on the one hand, the utmost rigor, and on the other, for its utter originality. He is no hostage to fashion but pursues directions of research which he believes will be of benefit to linguists and the wider community. He is deeply committed to improving the quality of linguistic theorizing, to developing new methodologies, documenting the current diversity of languages and cultures and helping to preserve them for future generations. All these pursuits are not only reflected in his numerous publications (197), but also in his personal engagement with scholars, linguistic societies, learned organizations and funding bodies. lt is not possible to enumerate all of his activities on these fronts. 1 would just like to mention that: since 1992 he has been the representative of Germany in the Central Assembly of the International Permanent Committee of Linguists and since 1997 a member of its executive committee; 1985-1994 he was a member of the Advisory Committee of the ESF EUOTYP programme; 1994•97 he was director of the project "Language Museum" of the State Ministry of Science and Research of Nothrhine-Westfalia; in 1998 he was the co-signer of the program "Documentation of Endangered Languages" installed by Volkswagenstiftung. Also very much deserving mention is his work directed at modernizing and expanding the only current pan-European linguistic organization, namely the Societas Linguistica Europea.

Christian Lehmann’s contributions to linguistics are widely recognized. He has been the recipient of awards and honours since the very beginning of his career in 1973 when he received an award for his Ph.D. He is a prized speaker at conferences, an honoured contributor to a wide range of scientific volumes and a most respected examiner. His influence has recently been officially acknowledged in a two volume festschrift in honour of his 60th birthday which features contributions from 40 colleagues and students.

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