LINGUIST List 11.2679

Sun Dec 10 2000

All: Obituary: Jan Firbas

Editor for this issue: Jody Huellmantel <>


  1. Brian Joseph, Obituary: Jan Firbas (1921 - 2000)

Message 1: Obituary: Jan Firbas (1921 - 2000)

Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2000 17:22:38 -0500 (EST)
From: Brian Joseph <>
Subject: Obituary: Jan Firbas (1921 - 2000)

IN MEMORIAM -- JAN FIRBAS (1921 - 2000)

It is with profound sorrow that we announce the death of Professor Jan
Firbas, a prominent representative of the Prague School linguistic
tradition in the second half of the twentieth century. He developed
Mathesius' idea of the theme - rheme analysis of the sentence into a
complex theory of Functional Sentence Perspective.

Jan Firbas was born in Brno on March 25th, 1921. He studied English
and Linguistics at Masaryk University where he established close
contacts with his teacher. Prof. Josef Vachek. Following Vachek's lead
he became an active member of the Prague Linguistic Circle, which was
later banned by the communist authorities. In spite of political and
religious oppressions at home and numerous invitations to permanent
posts at universities abroad, he remained faithful to the English
Department at Brno University, where he served as Professor of English
until his retirement in 1991. His last lecture abroad was delivered at
The Ohio State University in Columbus, where he participated in the
LP98 (Fourth Linguistics & Phonetics) Conference, in September 1998.

He published many articles and other works in his long career, but the
one that is best-known in the west and will perhaps be his most
enduring scholarly contribution is his 1992 book, Functional Sentence
Perspective in Written and Spoken Communication, published by
Cambridge University Press.

Professor Firbas passed away on May 5th, 2000, at the age of 79. 
He is survived by his wife Helene and two sons.

Respectfully submitted, 

Bohumil Palek (Charles University, Praha)
Osamu Fujimura (The Ohio State University, Columbus)
Brian D. Joseph (The Ohio State University, Columbus)
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