Hansjakob Seiler

Posted: October 2018

The LSA is saddened to announce the recent passing of LSA Life Member Hansjakob Seiler, a member of the LSA since 1953. Seiler passed away on August 13, 2018. Seiler served as the Chair of General and Comparative Linguistics at the University of Cologne from 1959 to 1986, following work in the United States as a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California (1965-1966) and as a Rockefeller Fellow (1953-1955). Since 1986 he had been a Professor Emeritus at the University of Cologne. A well-respected academic whose career spanned several decades and two continents, Seiler was known for studying both European and American structuralism and generative grammar. In California he participated in the "Survey of California Indian Languages", studying Cahuilla and writing a grammar, a dictionary and a text collection with English translation of the language. At the University of Cologne he founded his best known project, the UNITYP research group. UNITYP investigated questions about linguistic universals in intersection with various language typologies. Seiler oversaw UNITYP until 2002.

Seiler was also a member of the Société Linguistique de Paris, the International Association of Semiotic Studies, the Societas Linguistica Europaea (1980 President), and the Academia Europaea, London. He held honorary doctorates from the universities of Leuven and Paris VII.