Dieter Wunderlich (Linguist)

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Dieter Wunderlich (born June 14, 1937 in Rostock ) is a German linguist .


Wunderlich was born as the second of five children of medical officer Felix Wunderlich. In 1949 the family moved to the seaside resort Heringsdorf ( Usedom ), where the father ran a tuberculosis sanatorium. After graduating from high school in 1955, Wunderlich studied physics, first in Jena until 1957 , then in Leipzig . In 1959, Wunderlich left the GDR and continued his studies in Hamburg . On the basis of an experimental nuclear physics work on the longitudinal electron polarization during the beta decay of Pm 147, he passed the diploma examination in physics in 1964. He then worked for a year at the Interatom nuclear reactor company in Bensberg near Cologne, where he was mainly concerned with calculations for the planning of the sodium-cooled nuclear reactor in Kalkar .

In 1965 Wunderlich moved to Berlin and took up a second degree at the philosophical faculty of the TU Berlin . Through his acquaintance with Klaus Baumgärtner (at that time at the Technical University) and Manfred Bierwisch (then at the department for structural grammar at the Academy of Sciences in the GDR ), Wunderlich was interested in the latest developments in generative grammar . He became an assistant at the Institute for Language in the Technical Age of Walter Höllerer and participated in the circle around the newly appointed linguist Helmut Schnelle. In 1969 he received his doctorate at the TU Berlin with a thesis on tense and time reference in German, in which he propagated a new connection between morphology with semantics and pragmatics . 1970 Wunderlich became professor for German linguistics at the Free University of Berlin . From 1973 until his retirement in 2002 he held the newly created chair for general linguistics at the University of Düsseldorf (later named after Heinrich Heine) .

Wunderlich lives in Berlin with his wife, the pianist and piano teacher Leonore Wunderlich; they have 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren.


With his work, Wunderlich covers a wide range of topics in linguistics. He is one of the initiators of the linguistic turnaround in Germany (Wunderlich 2004) and was a co-founder and first chairman of the German Society for Linguistics (DGfS) from 1978 to 1980 . He was a supporter of generative grammar and at the same time an important figure in the introduction of pragmatics and discourse analysis in Germany. In the 1970s, Wunderlich, u. a. influenced by the works of Austin , Searle , Grice and especially Bar-Hillel , numerous important works on speech act theory , context dependence of meaning (e.g. his workbook Semantics ) and other phenomena in the field of pragmatics and discourse.

From the research of the 1980s, Wunderlich's work on language and space should be highlighted, especially on the semantics of prepositions , in which Wunderlich worked out the common core meaning - the localization relation -, the preposition-specific meaning components and the grammatical combinatorics of the prepositional phrases. This clearly shows the influence of the 2-level semantics developed by Manfred Bierwisch and Ewald Lang , the semantic, i.e. H. separates grammatically relevant parts of meaning and conceptual information. Wunderlich's studies on the word structure of compound nouns and complex verbs were preparatory work for the central overall complex lexicon , which dominated Wunderlich's research in the 90s. The most visible bundling of efforts to assign the lexicon its appropriate role for grammar was the SFB 282 Theory of the Lexicon initiated by Wunderlich .

In various SFB sub-projects, Wunderlich developed various lexical sub-theories that interlock and have proven to be cross-lingual:

  1. a lexical theory of congruence ( Wunderlich 1994 ), which understands congruence as a phenomenon of the syntax-semantic interface and not limited to syntactically comprehensible domains;
  2. Minimalist Morphology (MM; Wunderlich & Fabri 1995 ), with the help of which the verbal or nominal inflection paradigms of languages ​​are recorded and which is committed to the economic representation of morphological entities and the avoidance of unnecessarily complex or non-monotonous rules;
  3. a classification of lexical categories ( Wunderlich 1996 ) that analyzes nouns and verbs as a natural class of referentially independent categories
  4. the lexical decomposition grammar (LDG; Joppen & Wunderlich 1995 , Wunderlich 1997 ), which derives the argument structure of lexical elements from their decomposed meaning structures and determines the realization of arguments by means of the linking theory adopted and further developed by Paul Kiparsky .

The starting point for all partial theories is the assumption that all exponents ( stems such as inflection or derivative morphemes ) are represented as independent lexicon units with phonetic form (PF), semantic form (SF) and other grammatical markings and are pre-syntactically combined into complexes according to the usual semantic composition mechanisms . In connection with the optimality or correspondence theory, Wunderlich succeeded in analyzing unexpected forms of substitution and gaps in paradigms as well as more unusual forms of argument realization with simple means.

Wunderlich supervised a total of 25 dissertations; Together with the doctoral students, he wrote detailed analyzes of morphosyntactic phenomena in a large number of European and non-European languages. Wunderlich also attached great importance to the transfer of scientific knowledge; He published the magazine Studium Linguistik for 12 years and contributed to the development of textbooks for German lessons in grades 5 to 10.

Wunderlich recently appeared in public with lectures and interviews on the evolution of language and the question of how linguistic universals and linguistic diversity relate to one another ( Wunderlich 2015 ).

Awards and honors

In the academic year 1991/1992, Wunderlich was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin . In 2014 he received the Wilhelm von Humboldt Lifetime Achievement Award from DGfS. In 2016 he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science .

Publications (selection)

  • Dieter Wunderlich: Tempus and time reference in German . Munich, Hueber 1970. (= dissertation)
  • Dieter Wunderlich (Hrsg.): Problems and progress of the transformation grammar . Munich, Hueber 1971.
  • Utz Maas, Dieter Wunderlich: Pragmatics and linguistic action. With a criticism of the Funkkolleg "Language" . Frankfurt / M., Athenaeum 1972.
  • Dieter Wunderlich: Basics of Linguistics . Reinbek, Rowohlt 1974. - English translation: Foundations of Linguistics. Cambridge University Press 1979.
  • Dieter Wunderlich: Studies on speech act theory . Frankfurt / M., Suhrkamp 1976.
  • Dieter Wunderlich (Ed.): Theory of Science of Linguistics . Kronberg / Ts., Athenaeum 1976.
  • Dieter Wunderlich (Hrsg.): Study of linguistics . 22 issues. Kronberg: Librarian; Königstein: Librarian; Frankfurt / M .: Anton Hain 1976–1988.
  • Dieter Lenzen, Dieter Wunderlich (Hrsg.): Topic: Language. Language book German for 5th to 10th school year . Frankfurt, Hirschgraben 1977–1982.
  • Dieter Wunderlich: workbook semantics . Königstein, Athenaeum 1980.
  • Christoph black, Dieter Wunderlich (ed.): Handbook of lexicology . Königstein, Athenaeum 1985.
  • Dieter Wunderlich, Rudolf Steffens (Hrsg.): Topic: Language. New edition. Language and workbook for German lessons. 5th – 10th School year . Frankfurt / M., Cornelsen Verlag Hirschgraben 1986–1991.
  • Dieter Wunderlich: Basic grammatical knowledge . Frankfurt / M., Cornelsen Verlag Hirschgraben 1988.
  • Arnim von Stechow, Dieter Wunderlich (Ed.): Semantics. An international handbook of contemporary research . Berlin, de Gruyter 1991.
  • Dieter Wunderlich: Towards a lexicon-based theory of agreement . In: Theoretical Linguistics . Vol. 20, 1994, pp. 1-36. doi : 10.1515 / thli.1994.20.1.1
  • Sandra Joppen, Dieter Wunderlich: Argument linking in Basque . In: Lingua . Vol. 97, 1995, pp. 123-169. doi : 10.1016 / 0024-3841 (95) 00025-U
  • Dieter Wunderlich, Ray Fabri: Minimalist Morphology: An approach to inflection . In: Journal of Linguistics . Vol. 14, 1995, pp. 236-294. doi : 10.1515 / zfsw.1995.14.2.236
  • Dieter Wunderlich: Lexical Categories . In: Theoretical Linguistics . Vol. 22, 1996, pp. 1-48. doi : 10.1515 / thli.1996.22.1-2.1
  • Dieter Wunderlich: Cause and the structure of verbs . In: Linguistic Inquiry . Vol. 28, 1997, pp. 27-68. ( JSTOR 4178964 )
  • Barbara Stiebels, Dieter Wunderlich (Ed.): Lexicon in Focus . Berlin, Akademie Verlag 2000.
  • Dieter Wunderlich: Emancipation of Linguistics in Germany . In: Linguistic Reports . Vol. 200, 2004, pp. 427-450.
  • Dieter Wunderlich (Ed.): Advances in the theory of the lexicon . Berlin, Mouton de Gruyter 2006.
  • Dieter Wunderlich: Languages ​​of the World. Why they are so different and yet all the same . Darmstadt, Scientific Book Society (WBG) 2015.

Individual evidence

  1. GEPRIS entry at the DFG:
  2. Barbara Stiebels: Minimalist Morphology . Ms., University of Leipzig 2011 ( PDF, 396 kB )
  3. A list of the supervised dissertations, the list of publications (up to 2002) and a list of the post-doctoral theses created at Wunderlich's chair can be found in: Ingrid Kaufmann, Barbara Stiebels (ed.): More than words: A festschrift for Dieter Wunderlich . Berlin, Akademie Verlag 2002.
  4. s. List of Fellows under
  6. ^ Fellows of the AAAS: Dieter Wunderlich. (No longer available online.) American Association for the Advancement of Science, archived from the original on April 25, 2017 ; accessed on January 26, 2018 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /

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