Hans Jørgen Uldall

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Hans Jørgen Uldall (* 1907 in Silkeborg , † 1957 in Ibadan ) was a Danish linguist and, together with Louis Hjelmslev , he was the founder of glossematics .


After studying English literature at Otto Jespersen at the University of Copenhagen Uldall moved in 1927 to London to be under the guidance of Daniel Jones closer to the phonetics to deal with. In the following years he worked briefly as a lecturer at various universities. In the years 1930–33 he was given the opportunity to study the Maidu language in California on the recommendation of Jespersen .

Uldall made his decisive contribution to the development of linguistics after his return to Denmark in 1933. Together with Louis Hjelmslev, he began to develop what was initially called "phonematics" the theory of signs. At Uldall's request, the theory was renamed Glossematik. This was done in order to include general applicability of the teaching building to non-linguistic characters in the theoretical designation. The original plan to have the glossematics worked out as a complete and presentable theory by the linguists' congress in 1936 failed, so that even at the beginning of the war no end of the work was in sight. In 1939 Uldall was appointed by the British Council to various areas of south-eastern Europe and the Middle East (Greece, Egypt, the Arab region). During this time, Hjelmslev and Uldall worked partly independently of each other on the further development of the glossematics. After the war, Uldall stayed abroad. He worked temporarily in South America and Nigeria . Due to the spatial separation, there were divergent developments between Uldall and Hjelmslev within the development of the theoretical building. The jointly planned work “Outline of Glossematics”, for which Uldall wrote the “ Algebra of Language”, was finally published in an abbreviated form at Hjelmslev's request, as he considered Uldall's algebra to be too complicated to be applicable to a natural language . After the two of them met for the last time at the Congress of Linguists in Copenhagen in 1957, Uldall died of a heart attack shortly after his return to Nigeria .


  • Birgit Bartschat: Methods of Linguistics , pp. 110–129.

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