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LINGUIST List 17.1640

Wed May 31 2006

All: Obituary: Marco Haverkort (1961-2006)

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        1.    Jan-Wouter Zwart, Obituary: Marco Haverkort (1961-2006)


Message 1: Obituary: Marco Haverkort (1961-2006)
Date: 30-May-2006
From: Jan-Wouter Zwart <c.j.w.zwartrug.nl>
Subject: Obituary: Marco Haverkort (1961-2006)


Marco Haverkort, whose research straddled the boundaries of theoretical 
syntax and neurolinguistics, died on May 3, 2006 in the Nijmegen University
hospital. Marco had been diagnosed with brain cancer about 8 years earlier,
but while his condition remained stable he was able to carry on his
teaching and research for many years. Although Marco never failed to
discuss his condition bravely and optimistically, it gradually became clear
that this battle could not be won. A cremation service was held on May 9 in
Nijmegen, attended by family, friends and many colleagues from all over the
Netherlands.

I met Marco in 1983, when we were both undergraduate students in Nijmegen.
Marco was a brilliant student, who knew the ins and outs of Government and
Binding theory and distributed unpublished manuscripts from MIT. His
MA-thesis was an impressive study on parasitic gaps, and he published a
review of the philosophical aspects of Chomsky's Knowlegde of
Language
with Philip Miller (Revue Internationale de
Philosophie
41, 449-457). Before taking up his graduate studies in
Tilburg, Marco spent time at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
(a place he would continue to visit regularly) and at MIT. Between 1988 and
1992 Marco held a graduate position in Tilburg (leading to his 1993
dissertation Clitics and Parametrization), but he spent half of
his time at the Department of Linguistics at the University of California,
Santa Cruz, where he became subsequently employed in the year 1992-1993. He
then moved to Berkeley (1993-1994) and to the Child Language Program of the
University of Kansas, Lawrence (1994-1995), and ultimately the Boston
University Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures (from
1995 on). Here he supervised many PhD-dissertations and acted as faculty
advisor to the BU Conference on Language Development.

Around 1998 it became clear that Marco was interested in returning to
Europe, and we were happy to welcome him at the University of Groningen,
where Marco was able to pursue his interests in experimental linguistics
and neurolinguistics. With Laurie Stowe and Frans Zwarts he authored the
important article ''Rethinking the neurological basis of language''
(Lingua 115, 997-1042). In 2001 Marco obtained a prestigious
Academy of Sciences grant which moved him back to Nijmegen, where his
career had started.

In his research, Marco moved from theoretical syntax, via first language
acquisition, to neurolinguistics. He was highly critical of his own work,
but a fruitful and judicious collaborator. Faculty and students of the
institutes where Marco worked remember him with fondness. He was an
inspiring teacher, a meticulous researcher, and a generous and highly
active supervisor.


Linguistic Field(s): Not Applicable

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