LINGUIST List 13.2245

Mon Sep 9 2002

All: Obituary: Eugenio Coseriu

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Johannes Kabatek, Eugenio Coseriu has died

Message 1: Eugenio Coseriu has died

Date: Sun, 08 Sep 2002 19:05:52 +0000
From: Johannes Kabatek <>
Subject: Eugenio Coseriu has died

Eugenio Coseriu has died on Saturday, September 7th at the age of 81
at T�bingen/Germany

Coseriu was one of the most important linguists of the 20th
century. Many of his works are classics; and his basic linguistic
concepts belong to the fundamental knowledge of linguistics and
language philosophy and have had influence far beyond these
disciplines. His best known publications of the 1950s such as Sistema,
norma y habla (1952), Determinaci�n y entorno (1957) or Sincron�a,
diacron�a e historia (1958), published all of them firstly in Spanish
at Montevideo/Uruguay, offer a critical reception of Saussure's
thought and the structuralist method, which he applies consequently to
all the linguistic fields while always searching to demonstrate not
only its validity, but also its limits. He postulates what he calls
Integral Linguistics, a complete linguistic theory that integrates
structuralism but limits the relevance of structures to some
particular aspects of language. His basic conceptions go back to
Aristotle, Hegel and above all to Humboldt's consideration of language
as En�rgeia, as the speaker's creative activity. His theoretical
linguistic framework allowed Coseriu to contribute important work to a
wide range of subjects: semantics, syntax, translation theory,
variational linguistics, text linguistics, historical linguistics, the
history of linguistics as a discipline, etc. An immense theoretical
and an impressing, in many cases native-like knowledge of all the
Romance languages, Latin and Greek, the Slavic languages, the Germanic
languages and several other languages such as Japanese allowed him to
offer new insights into functional aspects of these languages -- above
all the Romance languages -- and to discover and demonstrate by strong
empirical evidence many structural and typological characteristics.
His work has been distinguished with more then 40 titles of a Doctor
h.c. and honorific titles of many academies and institutions, among
others, of the Linguistic Society of America, the Linguistic Circle of
New York, the Soci�t� de Linguistique Romane etc. Coseriu was born in
1921 in Romania and studied linguistics and philosophy in Romania and
in Rome. After leaving Romania in 1940, where his poems and short
stories were considered as testimony of a new and promising talent for
literature, he worked, in Italy, as translator and art critic and
wrote a thesis in philosophy and another one in Romance philology. In
1951, he went to Montevideo/Uruguay, where during several years of
very intense creative work some of his most important works were
published (some of his works from these days, such as a large
monograph on the theory of proper names, are still unpublished). In
1963, after several stages at different European universities, he
accepted the chair of Romance linguistics at the University of
T�bingen/Germany, where he lived and worked until his death. The
T�bingen School of Linguistics has had and remains having a strong
influence above all in European Romance linguistics, but also
overseas, especially in Latin America and Japan.

For further information see

For detailed information on his life and work see the mongraph:
Johannes Kabatek/Adolfo Murgu�a: "Die Sachen sagen,
wie sie sind...". Eugenio Coseriu im Gespr�ch,
T�bingen: Narr 1997.

Johannes Kabatek (University of Freiburg/Germany)
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