Roland Posner

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Roland Posner (born June 30, 1942 in Prague ; † May 26, 2020 in Berlin ) was a Czech-German semiotics and linguist , who from 1974 held a professorship for German and general linguistics at the Technical University of Berlin and headed the semiotics department there .


Posner studied philosophy, comparative literature, linguistics and communication theory at the universities of Bonn, Munich and Berlin. In 1972 he received his doctorate summa cum laude in the subjects of general linguistics, German studies and philosophy at the TU Berlin with a thesis on "Theory of Commenting: A Basic Study on Semantics and Pragmatics". As early as 1973 he completed his habilitation in the fields of linguistics, literary studies and philosophy of language at the TU Berlin.

From 1974 he was associate professor, from 1975 full professor for "German and General Linguistics" at the TU Berlin. From 1975 to 1980 he was director of the Institute for Linguistics at the TU Berlin. From 1980 he was director of the "Arbeitsstelle für Semiotik" at the TU. From 1975 he was also head of the "Semiotic Working Group Berlin" (SAB) and in the same year founding chairman of the German Society for Semiotics (DGS).

Posner held visiting professorships at the University of Hamburg (1973) and at the Université de Montréal (1977). He was also a lecturer at linguistic and semiotic summer institutes in Salzburg (1977), Tunis (1979), Toronto (1982), Lisbon (1983), Mysore (1984/85), São Paulo (1985) and Lund (1992). Posner was a member of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Wassenaar in the academic year 1986/1987 , where he was made a lifetime associate fellow.

Research areas

Much of his work can be assigned to several research areas; most of the contributions combine approaches from text linguistics, semiotics and analytical philosophy.

Posner's early work was initially concerned with linguistic structures, while text linguistics dealt with linguistic structures that spanned sentences. The essay "Linguistic means of literary interpretation" is a short version of the master's thesis from 1967. It describes the relationship between Goethe's poem "To the Moon" as an object text, which is used as an example of a literary text, and the interpretations of the written by philologists over 200 years Poems that are understood as meta texts. The morphological, syntactic and lexical transformations from object text to metatext found in the corpus are represented with the help of transformation rules such as generalization, objectification and demetaphorization.

Academic offices

  • since 1985: Member of the Committee on Literary Theory, International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA)
  • since 1985: Member of the jury for awarding the Tiburtius Prize for exceptional dissertations (Berlin)
  • 1989 Vice President of the International Semiotics Institute (ISI)
  • 1984–94: Vice President of the International Society for Semiotics (IASS)
  • since 1994: President of the International Society for Semiotics (IASS)
  • 1989–94: Member of the selection committee for German lecturers in the Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
  • since 1995: Reviewer for semiotic research projects: German, Austrian, Danish, Dutch and Swiss national research councils
  • since 1996: Member of the International Society for Research in Emotion (ISRE)


  • 1989: Honorary member of the Austrian Society for Semiotic Studies
  • since 1988: Member of the Academio Internacia de la Sciencoj AIS, Philosophy Section, Semiotics Department, San Marino

Research priorities

  • Philosophy of science
  • linguistic pragmatics
  • Cultural semiotics
  • Poetics and Aesthetics
  • Sign research

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. Roland Posner (1984): Linguistic means of literary interpretation. Two hundred years of Goethe philology , in: Hans-Werner Eroms and Hartmut Laufhütte (eds.), Diversity of perspectives: Science and art in dealing with Goethe's work . Passau: Passavia Universitäts-Verlag, 179–206.