LINGUIST List 14.3441

Fri Dec 12 2003

All: Obituary: Helma van den Berg

Editor for this issue: Sarah Murray <>


  1. Martin Haspelmath, Obituary: Helma van den Berg

Message 1: Obituary: Helma van den Berg

Date: Tue, 02 Dec 2003 11:46:38 +0100
From: Martin Haspelmath <>
Subject: Obituary: Helma van den Berg

Obituary: Helma van den Berg

We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of our colleague Helma
van den Berg, one of the leading Western experts on Daghestanian
languages, who passed away in Derbent (Daghestan, Russia) on 11
November 2003. Helma was only 38 years old. She suffered a heart
attack while working on a dictionary of the Dargi language with her
native-speaker collaborator Ms. Omarova. She is survived by her
husband Leo.

Helma studied Slavic and Caucasian linguistics at the University of
Leiden and did her Ph.D. research on the Daghestanian language Hunzib
(1995). She taught and did further research at the University of
Leiden, before joining the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary
Anthropology (Leipzig) in 2000. During her stay here she concentrated
on Dargi lexicography and dialectology, wrote a series of articles on
the comparative grammar of Daghestanian languages, and initiated a
large project on the grammar of Avar, which involved collaboration
with native-speaker linguists.

Helma's untimely death is a terrible blow not only for those who were
close to her, but also for the field of Caucasian linguistics. She had
just been awarded a prestigious grant for innovative research that
would have allowed her to continue her research at the University of
Leiden for five years.

We still find it hard to understand that she should not be among us
anymore. We will miss her dearly.

Martin Haspelmath (
Max-Planck-Institut fuer evolutionaere Anthropologie, Deutscher Platz 6	
D-04103 Leipzig
Tel. (MPI) +49-341-3550 307, (priv.) +49-341-980 1616

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