LINGUIST List 32.545

Fri Feb 12 2021

All: Ulrich Detges (1958-2021)

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 11-Feb-2021
From: Richard Waltereit <>
Subject: Ulrich Detges (1958-2021)
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Ulrich (Uli) Detges, professor of Romance linguistics at the University of Munich, died of a long illness on 7 February 2021.

He was born in Krefeld, West Germany, in 1958. He studied French and History at the Free University of Berlin from 1977 to 1985. Subsequently, he won scholarships to study at the École Normale Supérieure rue d’Ulm in Paris and at the University of Laval in Québec. He then did his PhD with Thomas Kotschi at the Free University, and defended it with highest honours in 1992. From 1994 to 1996 he completed the Berlin teacher training programme. In 1996 he was appointed by the University of Tübingen for an assistant professor position. In 2001 he was awarded the habilitation (higher doctorate) at that university. In 2003 he went to the University of Munich for a chair in Romance linguistics, a position that he held until the end.

His PhD thesis was an analysis of French complex predicates like ‘mettre en relief’, based on the assumption that these are nominal predicates. It was published with Niemeyer in 1996. This work later served as the theoretical basis for a dictionary of French nominal predicate that he co-authored with Colette Cortès and Thomas Kotschi, and published in 2009 with Narr.

From his time in Tübingen onwards, he developed a theory of grammaticalization based on the hypothesis that grammatical formatives are the residue of rhetorical over-use of their lexical source constructions. He substantiated this hypothesis in historical corpus work for a significant number of constructions in French, Spanish, Catalan, and other languages. This was the topic of his habilitation thesis. His work was published in journals like Studies in Language, Catalan Journal of Linguistics, Language Sciences, Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft, Linguistics, Romanistisches Jahrbuch, Open Linguistics, and many other venues.
Uli was on the editorial board of Revue Romane and he co-edited the Grundlagen der Romanistik series with Erich Schmidt Verlag.

For five years, he was the Study Dean of his Faculty. To those who knew him personally, he was much fun to be with; his sharp mind and his friendly and deeply humane humour were much appreciated in conversation.

Linguistic Field(s): Discipline of Linguistics

Page Updated: 12-Feb-2021