LINGUIST List 8.1728

Tue Dec 2 1997

All: Obituary: Helmut Feldweg

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  1. Miriam Butt, Helmut Feldweg --- Obituary

Message 1: Helmut Feldweg --- Obituary

Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 17:39:01 GMT
From: Miriam Butt <>
Subject: Helmut Feldweg --- Obituary

It is with deep and profound regret that we find ourselves in the
position of announcing the unexpected and sudden death of our
colleague, Helmut Feldweg. Helmut, at the age of 41, succumbed to a
previously undetected cancer of the heart this past Monday, November
24th. For many of us, Helmut was more than just another colleague at
the University of Tuebingen: he was a friend, a partner, a solid rock
in the whirls and eddies of research and life, and the one we went to
when we had any questions.

After studying Chinese at the University of Goettingen in the early
eighties, Helmut worked at the Max-Planck-Institute for
Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, where he was involved with database
programs such as CELEX and CHILDES. At the University of Tuebingen,
where he has been since 1992, Helmut developed a Part-of-Speech tagger
for German (called LIKELY), worked on the development of lexical
knowledge bases, and in cooperation with several European partners,
established a prototype for an intelligent, context-sensitive on-line
dictionary look-up system. At the time of his death, he was engaged
in building up a German counterpart to the semantic on-line lexical
reference system WordNet (developed at Princeton).

Interacting with Helmut, whether it was at project meetings, over
lunch, on a hike, or while flying kites, was always a singularly
positive experience, which can be traced directly to the solid
competence and imagination that Helmut combined with the utter absence
of a need to put himself before others. So, for example, Helmut
(without ever seeking or needing an acknowledgement of this fact)
quietly but effectively trained, pushed, and supported a good number
of the women who have to date advanced from the Institute of
Linguistics at the University of Tuebingen to other jobs in both
industry and academia.

In short, Helmut Feldweg was a pleasure and an inspiration to work
with, and the brevity of his research career is all the more to be
regretted. We will miss all aspects of his personality, but perhaps
most devastatingly, we will miss the good humour and dry wit with
which he confronted both linguistics and life, and which made him such
a wonderful colleague.

Miriam Butt
FG Sprachwissenschaft
Universitaet Konstanz (formerly at Tuebingen)

Arnim von Stechow
Seminar fuer Sprachwissenschaft
Universitaet Tuebingen
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