LINGUIST List 32.2466

Mon Jul 26 2021

All: Obituary for Joanna Błaszczak, Part One

Editor for this issue: Sarah Robinson <>

Date: 25-Jul-2021
From: Małgorzata Cavar <>
Subject: Obituary for Joanna Błaszczak, Part One
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The Institute of English Studies at the University of Wrocław is very sad to announce the passing of our dear friend and colleague Professor Joanna Błaszczak. Joanna was an accomplished linguist, a respected colleague and an inspiring, caring mentor. Her scholarly work in linguistics covers primarily syntax, semantics and syntax-semantics interface. She always explored the empirical problems she was interested in from many perspectives including language acquisition, diachrony, typology, sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics. She specialized in using various experimental methods in her research on language including priming and reaction time tests, self-paced reading, eye-tracking, Event Related Potentials. She was involved in various projects at the University of Potsdam and also at the Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS) in Berlin. She was also a leader of numerous grants at the University of Wrocław. She was a bridge-builder between the local and international linguistics communities.

Her dedication to research, her amazing knowledge, determination, charisma will remain an inspiration to her colleagues, students and friends. She will be sorely missed by many.

Joanna’s website is available here:

Memories and condolences can be shared via

A colloquium in memory of Prof. Błaszczak will be organized by colleagues at the University of Wroclaw, Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin and the University of Potsdam. More information will be available soon.

Her achievements are best expressed in the words of her colleagues and students:

Gisbert Fanselow:

Joanna Błaszczak held a scholarship in the Research Training Group “Economy and Complexity in Language” of the Humboldt University Berlin and the University of Potsdam, and wrote her dissertation there in the years up to 1999. Her thesis was published in 2001 under the title Investigation into the
Interaction between the Indefinites and Negation in the renowned series Studia Grammatica. After leaving the Research Training Group in 1999, she was employed by the Department of Linguistics at the University of Potsdam until 2008 – first, for short periods, in two DFG-funded projects, and then as a research assistant / assistant professor at the Chair of Syntax. Her publications from this period focus on topics such as the syntax and semantics of negation, the crosslinguistic typology of multiple questions, exceptional case marking in the European languages and, of course, existential constructions, with a particular emphasis on Polish. The latter topic was then also the subject of her habilitation thesis (2007), on the basis of which she was appointed “Privatdozentin” at the Universität Potsdam. In addition to her research achievements, which culminated in her habilitation thesis, Joanna Blaszczak also contributed significantly to the success of the department through her involvement in the establishment of research networks (e.g. the Collaborative Research Center on Information Structure) and in academic self-administration. She taught all kinds of courses in the fields of syntax and semantics, and supervised several theses. Still legendary is the fact that she always offered students small sweets during exams to ease the situation.

Due to legal regulations on contract terms, Joanna Blaszczak left the service of the University of Potsdam in 2008 to the regret of the department, but returned there as a substitute professor for the 2009 summer semester.

Linguistic Field(s): Not Applicable

Page Updated: 26-Jul-2021