LINGUIST List 32.2470

Mon Jul 26 2021

All: Obituary for Joanna Błaszczak, Part Five

Editor for this issue: Sarah Robinson <>

Date: 26-Jul-2021
From: Małgorzata Cavar <>
Subject: Obituary for Joanna Błaszczak, Part Five
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In memory of Joanna Błaszczak, we are circulating a short series of contributions from her colleagues and students.

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.

Anna Czypionka:
I remember looking forward to Joanna’s syntax lessons every week, back when she was my teacher. She was so generous with her knowledge, her time, and her enthusiasm. After all these years, I still hold on to her handouts, but I lost the many emails explaining the extra bits, recommending literature, inviting me to come and have a little chat if I wanted to talk some more about all this. Of course, I wanted to.

From our later collaboration over the years, I remember the beauty of the research questions and designs Joanna came up with. Her brilliant way of combining arguments and ideas; how quickly she recognized which parts of our knowledge could be turned into tools for making more of it. How she would innocently announce that she had been thinking about a little project (that meant trouble, just like the little chats years earlier). I remember Joanna’s endurance and grit in making these “little projects” happen under all kinds of conditions; how she would keep going until she had found a way to answer her questions, establish a lab or a study programme, or to bring colleagues together.

At her level of energy, that also meant going at triple speed and intensity, sometimes knocking things over and leaving the rest of us blinking and dizzy. But when we caught up, it was always worth the run.

Piotr Gulgowski:

Joanna left an enormous void, the size of which we are just beginning to see. She carried an impossible list of tasks: the journal, the labs, the MA program for international students (which she created from scratch), the ongoing research projects and the countless issues big and small. She did all this not just because of her regular academic obligations, but because she cared deeply about the people involved and the scientific contributions made. She was a tireless organizer and a link connecting people and institutions. Somehow, among all of this, she could always find the time to listen, to give advice or to help with particularly challenging paperwork. However early I arrived at her office for our meetings, there she was already working and there was the reassuring smell of the coffee that fueled her endless work days. When I think about her, I immediately remember that smell and also the unique sense of humor which she brought into our conversations. She really liked to laugh.

Linguistic Field(s): Not Applicable

Page Updated: 26-Jul-2021