Werner Besch

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Werner Besch (born May 4, 1928 in Erdmannsweiler / Black Forest) is a German German linguist and medievalist . He is an emeritus professor for the German language and older German literature (including German dialectology) at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn . His main areas of research included the development of the New High German language , language change and dialectology , the German language history of the late Middle Ages and early New High German .


Werner Besch first studied German language and literature as well as English and geography for the grammar school teaching post at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg and the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen , in 1950 he became a member of the Freiburg Wingolf . In 1955 he passed the state examination and received his doctorate in Freiburg in 1956 with Friedrich Maurer . After receiving his doctorate, Besch worked as a lecturer in London from 1955 to 1956 . After taking the assessor's exam in 1957, he returned to Germany in order to finally get a position as a research assistant at the German Department in Freiburg in 1960 through project research on language history. He completed his habilitation in Freiburg in 1965 and was offered a chair for German language and older German literature at the Ruhr University in Bochum . From 1970 until his retirement in 1993 he was full professor for the German language and older German literature at the University of Bonn. Besch held several visiting professorships at foreign universities and in 1982 and 1983 the office of Rector of the University of Bonn. He is the founding chairman and honorary member of the Bonn University Club .

Werner Besch was a member of the Scientific Council of the Institute for the German Language in Mannheim from 1967 to 1975 and a member of its board of trustees from 1975 to 1983. 1977 election as corresponding member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences ; 1985 election as a full member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences; 1994 election as a corresponding member of the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies at the University of London . From 2004 to 2010 Besch represented the Union of German Academies of Sciences in the “ Council for German Spelling ”.


  • since 2003 honorary member of the International Society for Dialectology of the Germans
  • since 2005 honorary member of the Society of Hungarian Germanists

Publications (selection)

  • Linguistic landscapes and language equalization in the 15th century. Studies to research the late Middle High German written dialects and the emergence of the New High German written language. Munich / Bern 1967 (= Bibliotheca Germanica. Volume 11).
  • Duzen, Siezen, titling. To address in German today and yesterday . Göttingen 1996, (2nd expanded edition 1998).
  • as editor: History of Language. A handbook on the history of the German language and its research . 4 volumes, 2nd, completely revised and expanded edition, de Gruyter, Berlin 1998–2004. (First edition in 2 volumes 1984/85, ISBN 3-11-007396-X and ISBN 3-11-009590-4 ), ISBN 3-11-011257-4 , ISBN 3-11-015882-5 , ISBN 3-11 -015883-3 , ISBN 3-11-018041-3 .
  • German language in transition. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2003.
  • Ways and wrong ways of the German spelling reform of 1998 . Schöningh, Paderborn 2007.
  • The role of Luther in the history of German language . In: Writings of the Philosophical-Historical Class of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. Volume 12, Heidelberg 1999 (2nd edition 2000).
  • German Bible vocabulary in the early modern period. Select - Deselect - Obsolete. Frankfurt am Main 2008.
  • Grimmelshausen's “ Simplicissimus ” - the second life of a classic. Paderborn 2012.
  • as editor with Hugo Moser and Hugo Stopp: Grammar of Early New High German. 7 volumes, Volume 7: Inflection of the pronouns and numeralia. Edited by Maria Walch and Susanne Häckel, Heidelberg 1988.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Verband Alter Wingolfiten eV (Ed.): Vademecum Wingolfiticum , 17th edition, Lahr / Schwarzwald 1974, p. 97.