The Linguistics Department at the University of Potsdam was founded in 1993, soon after the re-conception of the University in 1991. As one of the largest Linguistics Departments in Germany, the 10 Professors and their research assistants cover a wide range of fields in teaching and research: grammar theory (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics), language acquisition and language processing, neurolinguistics, computational linguistics (both theoretical and applied), and clinical linguistics.
The Department offers undergraduate degree programs in the fields of theoretical linguistics, computational linguistics, and clinical linguistics, and directs the following international graduate-level training programs: the Master program EMCL (Erasmus Mundus Masters program in Clinical Linguistics), the Master and PhD program IECL (International Programme for Experimental and Clinical Linguistics), and the PhD program IDEALAB (International Doctorate for Experimental Approaches to Language and Brain) which offers admission and funding to applicants on a competitive basis. The department also co-coordinates the international Master program Cognitive Systems together with the Institute for Computer Science. Across the University, all professorships with a focus area overlapping with Linguistics are united in the research cluster "Language" (Forschungscluster "Sprache"). Since October 2008, the departmental professorships form part of the Cognitive Sciences Area of Excellence in the Faculty of Human Sciences.
The Department is located at the University campus Golm, in building 14. The Potsdam Research Institute for Multilingualism is located in building 2. You can find a map of campus Golm here.
Joanna Błaszczak got involved with our department when she held a scholarship in the Research Training Group “Economy and Complexity in Language” of the Humboldt University Berlin and the University of Potsdam. In 1999, she finished her dissertation in this RTG. The thesis was published in 2001 under the title Investigation into the Interaction between the Indefinites and Negation in the renowned series Studia Grammatica.
After 1999, she was employed in the Potsdam Department of Linguistics 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 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 many research achievements, which culminated in her habilitation thesis, Joanna Błaszczak 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 she supervised several theses. We remember fondly that she always offered students small sweets during exams to ease the situation.
Joanna Błaszczak left the University of Potsdam in 2008, much to the regret of the department, but she returned there for a short period as substitute professor in the summer semester of 2009 summer. At that time, Joanna Błaszczak had already been appointed as a professor to the chair of English linguistics at the University of Wrocław. There, she broadened her scientific scope to questions of psycho- and neurolinguistics. She directed several important research projects financed at the national and European level. On 11 February 2021, the Polish President Andrzej Duda awarded her the title of Professor of Humanities.
Joanna Błaszczak was a scientist with outstanding academic achievements. She combined originality and width in theoretical perspective with a dedication to detail and rigor in linguistic analysis. In and outside academics, she always met her fellow human beings with the greatest respect and attention, and she supported them with all her might whenever necessary. Joanna was a role model for a life guided by high ethical principles. At the same time, we fondly remember Joanna’s cheerfulness. Her laughter is still in the ears of many of us.
On the night of 7-8 July, after a long and serious illness, she died at the age of only 50.