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The Linguistics Department

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.

In memory of our colleague Luis Vicente (1979-2018)

On the 6th of February, Luis Alberto Vicente Tojo, former member of the Department of Linguistics, died at the age of only 38 years in a Freiburg clinic.

Luis Vicente was born in Bilbao, Spain in 1979. After graduate school, he enrolled for English Philology at the University of Deusto, where he obtained his BA degree in 2002. He then went for a PhD in linguistics to Leiden University, which he completed in 2007, under the supervision of Lisa Cheng. The title of the thesis is The syntax of heads and phrases: a study of verb (phrase) fronting.

After short engagements in Amsterdam and Santa Cruz, Luis Vincente joined our Department in 2009, as a Senior Research Fellow in the syntax group. He was among the Principal Investigators of the former SFB 632 on Information Structure. In 2016, he obtained his habilitation in linguistics from the humanities faculty of the University of Potsdam.

In his research, Luis Vicente had a focus on various aspects of the syntax of silence, i.e., the analysis of constructions such as ellipsis, gapping or sluicing, but he also made major contributions to the theory of movement. He approached his research questions from the perspective of a generative syntactician, but also employed experimental and corpus methods. He was able to publish his research in major syntax journals, such as Natural Language and Linguistic Theory and Linguistic Inquiry. However, his research questions also led him to investigate problems in semantics, and he was particularly proud when he, as a syntactician, got a paper accepted in Natural Language Semantics. He finished a major research proposal for the Heisenberg program of the DFG in the summer of 2016, but the sudden and dramatic deterioration of his health left that proposal unsubmitted.

Those who attended his classes praise him for his excellent way of teaching syntax and related questions. A perfect proof for this is the high number of young scholars working in Potsdam, or having moved to other places, who got their syntax training from Luis Vicente. Luis was a perfect colleague for all members of the department, and a good friend for many.

In December 2012, a tumor was discovered in Luis Vicente’s brain. Soon after surgery, he returned to the department, and we all believed he had won the battle against cancer. Yet, shortly after the successful completion of his habilitation in summer 2016, cancer returned. Luis Vicente fought against the disease in Freiburg, the hometown of his family.

Luis Vicente is survived by his wife, Amanda Shuman, and their young daughter Emma.

Our thoughts are with his family. We bewail the loss of a colleague, friend, and excellent scientist. But we are grateful for the time we could work and live with Luis!