Manfred Bierwisch

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Manfred Bierwisch (born July 28, 1930 in Halle / Saale ) is a German linguist .


Bierwisch studied from the early 1950s German at Theodor Frings , Ernst Bloch and Hans Mayer at the Karl Marx University in Leipzig . In 1952 he was arrested because of the illegal possession of several issues of the West Berlin magazine The Month in East Germany and sentenced to 18 months in prison for inciting boycotts , of which he served 10 months. After he was detained, he continued his studies. From 1956 he was an assistant at the Institute for German Language and Literature at the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin (DAW). In 1961 he received his doctorate in Leipzig.

From 1962 until it was forcibly dissolved in 1973, he worked at the Structural Grammar Department at the DAW (from 1972 Academy of Sciences of the GDR , AdW) in Berlin , headed by Wolfgang Steinitz . From 1973 to 1980 he worked at the Central Institute for Linguistics at the AdW, then from 1981 to 1991 head of the research group Cognitive Linguistics there . In 1981 he completed his habilitation and in 1985 he was appointed professor of linguistics at the AdW.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall , he headed the Structural Grammar Working Group (ASG) of the Max Planck Society at the Humboldt University in Berlin from 1992 to 1998 . In 1993 he was appointed full professor of linguistics at Humboldt University.

He lives with his wife, the translation scholar Monika Bierwisch-Doherty , in Berlin-Wilmersdorf .


He made contributions to phonology , morphology , syntax and semantics and is considered one of the most important German linguists. The cultural scientist Claudia Schmölders called him in 2003 the "master of German linguistics for around 35 years".

Together with Uwe Johnson , he wrote a retransmission of the Nibelungenlied . Johnson honored him in the portrait Twenty-five Years with Jake, also known as Bierwisch .

Awards and honors

Bierwisch has been an honorary member of the Linguistic Society of America since 1979 . In 1985 he was appointed "External Scientific Member" of the Max Planck Society at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics . In 1990 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Jena . In the academic year 1991/1992 he was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin . In 1991 he was elected a member of the Academia Europaea . In 1992 he was a founding member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW), of which he was Vice President from 1993 to 1998. Since 1993 he has been a member of the presidium of the Goethe Institute . In 1998 he was made an honorary member of the Saxon Academy of Sciences (SAW). On October 26, 2005, the Philological Faculty of Leipzig University made him an honorary doctorate . On March 7, 2012, the German Linguistic Association (DGfS) awarded him the first Wilhelm von Humboldt Prize for his life's work.

Publications (selection)

  • The Nibelungenlied . Transcribed in prose by Manfred Bierwisch and Uwe Johnson . Reclam, Leipzig 1961 (only since the 8th edition in 1983 could the two authors be named)
  • On the morphology of the German verbal system . University of Leipzig, 1961 (dissertation)
  • Structuralism. Results, methods, problems . In the course book , No. 5, 1966 (edited by Hans Magnus Enzensberger )
  • Grammar of the German verb . Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1963. 8th edition 1973. ( studia grammatica 2)
  • Modern linguistics: its development, methods and problems . Mouton, The Hague 1971
  • Psychological aspects of language . Central Institute for Linguistics, Berlin 1975
  • (ed.) Psychological Effects of Linguistic Structural Components . Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1979
  • The integration of autonomous systems. Cognitive Linguistics Considerations . Academy of Sciences of the GDR, Berlin 1981 (habilitation thesis)
  • Essays in the psychology of language . Central Institute for Linguistics, Berlin 1983
  • (Ed. with Ewald Lang ) Grammatical and conceptual aspects of dimensional adjectives . Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1987. ISBN 3-05-000161-5 ( studia grammatica 26/27)
  • (ed.) Syntax, Semantics and Lexicon. Rudolf Růžička on his 65th birthday . Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1988
  • (Ed. with Ewald Lang ) Dimensional adjectives: grammatical structure and conceptual interpretation . Springer, Berlin et al. 1989. ISBN 3-540-50633-0
  • (ed.) The role of work in different eras and cultures . Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 2003. ISBN 3-05-003473-4
  • Aspects of language ability: structure, biology, culture . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt / Main 2003 (2009). ISBN 3-518-29151-3


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Erwin Tschirner: On the awarding of an honorary doctorate to Prof. Dr. Dr. hc Manfred Bierwisch . Leipzig 2005. See
  2. Gabriele Goettle : All toads always lie. Visiting a linguist . taz, February 26, 2001. See
  3. ^ "Manfred Bierwisch is the most important and influential German linguist of the 2nd half of the 20th century." (Prof. Manfred Krifka, Humboldt University); "No other linguist has had a comparable influence in Germany in the last 50 years, no other has shaped the subject in a comparable way." (Prof. Gisbert Fanselow, University of Potsdam), both cited in Tschirner 2005.
  4. in: Is there a language behind speaking? In: Merkur 651 (2003), 619–624, here page 619.
  5. see list of Fellows at
  6. ↑ Directory of members: Manfred Bierwisch. Academia Europaea, accessed June 17, 2017 .
  7. Documentation of the workshop “Crossing the Limits of Linguistics. Manfred Bierwisch's work in the mirror of Leipzig linguistics ”. See
  8. See