December 1955 - August 2011
We deeply regret to have to announce that Professor Anna Siewierska died on 6th August in a car accident in Vietnam.
Student Prize in Memory of Anna
The Linguistics department plan to create a student prize or scholarship in Anna's name. If you would like to contribute towards this it is possible to make donations via the university website.
Make a donation (Under 'Scholarship and opportunity', select 'Scholarship for excellence in Linguistics in memory of Anna Siewierska')
Memorial, Lancaster University, 4th November
A memorial was held at Lancaster University to remember and celebrate Anna's life on Friday 4th November in the Great Hall.
Memorial Programme Outline
3.00-4.00 Part One: Tributes, music and poetry
4.00-4.30 tea and coffee
4.30-5.30 Part two: Tributes, academic presentations, String Quartet
Tributes and Memories of Anna
We invite friends, colleagues, past and present, students and former students to post tributes and share their memories of Anna, please use the form to add your tributes and memories to this page.
It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Anna Siewierska, who died in a tragic road accident in Vietnam on 6 August 2011.
Her career in linguistics spanned three decades, with many of us still referring to her very first book on the passive in the languages of the world: The Passive: A Contrastive Linguistic Analysis (1984). This monograph is distinguished in at least two respects. First, it was the published version of her Monash University MA, a remarkable outcome for a dissertation at this level and testifying to the great promise she already held very early in her career. Second, in it she compared many different theories. This comparative theoretical angle remained a considerable merit of her research, setting it apart from that of many of her peers. Anna's preferences always lay with functionally oriented theories, for some time especially the version of Functional Grammar developed by Simon Dik and colleagues in Amsterdam but more recently also construction-based approaches. However, she included formal approaches in her scope as well.
She was of course most well known for her work in linguistic typology, where in addition to her cross-theoretical perspective she also stood out in terms of the sheer breadth of topics she covered: voice, valence, word order, agreement, person, and more recently dialect grammar. In the 1990s she coordinated the constituent order group of the European Science Foundation project EUROTYP, which culminated in the very substantial volume on this topic: Constituent Order in the Languages of Europe (1997). She did not only carry out her research alone, but also with others, especially her husband Dik Bakker. Since 2009 she had been involved in a large collaborative project on Referential Hierarchies in Morphosyntax, funded by the ESF and AHRC.
Anna was an active member of various professional organisations, including the Philological Society and the Linguistics Association of Great Britain. She had served as President of the Societas Linguistica Europaea (2002) and, at the time of her death, was the President of the Association of Linguistic Typology. In 2003 she was elected a member of the Academia Europaea.
Anna was a truly cosmopolitan scholar, working on the full variety of the world's languages, teaching and lecturing around the world and holding positions in several different countries. She was a lecturer at the University of Gdansk (1980-1990), senior researcher and lecturer at the University of Amsterdam (1988-1992), and before that, she also taught at Monash University (1982-1984), where she obtained her PhD (1985). Since 1994 she had been Professor of Linguistics and Human Communications at Lancaster University. In addition to this, she was a frequent Visiting Professor at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.
In addition to being an excellent researcher, Anna was an outstanding colleague and a wonderful person. One could always knock on her door for some insightful work related advice, a friendly chat, and a joke about something decidedly unlinguistic, such as the latest episode of 'Mad Men'. Many of us will remember her as being extremely hard working, but as having many interests outside linguistics too, including hiking in the Lake District, visiting the theatre, travelling, and reading. She was a great host, who would always leave one wondering where she found the energy to entertain her guests in the way only she could yet be so incredibly productive professionally at the same time.
Our deepest feelings of sympathy naturally go out to her family first and foremost, including her husband Dik Bakker -- but everyone who has had the pleasure of working with and getting to know her will greatly miss her exceptional expertise, energy, and warmth of character.
Barry Blake (La Trobe University)
Willem Hollmann (Lancaster University)
Nigel Vincent (University of Manchester)
Anne Wichmann (University of Central Lancashire)
The Societas Linguistica Europaea held a memorial event for Anna at the 44th Annual Meeting, on 8th September 2011 in La Rioja, Spain. Speeches were delivered by three of Anna's friends and colleagues: Bert Cornillie, Ruth Wodak and Johan van der Auwera: SLE Memoriam (PDF)
Though it had been only two years since Anna and I began our academic contact till her accidental death, I take her as a long-lost friend of mine. I first met her at a conference on Chinese linguistics held in Paris in June 2009, where she gave a keynote presentation. Our conversation was a warm and sincere one, during which she encouraged me to write papers on typology in English and offered to do revisions for me. It was not long before we met for the second time at ALT8, Berkely, and we had a longer conversation, when she gave me a very patient explanation about some latest developments in typology study. She fulfilled her promise by doing meticulous revisions of two of my papers. One has been published in Cahiers Linguistique-Asie Orientale and the other one has been accepted and will appear in Linguistic Discovery. I was deeply impressed with her extremely careful proofreading and revisions of the papers on the basis of the versions, which had already been finally edited and accepted by the editorial board, and her even more modest request not to mention her help in the paper. Our last meeting was at ALT-9, Hongkong. As we conversed, she expressed her hope to hold an ALT conference in Beijing or Shanghai in the future, and, very excitedly, she told me that she was going to Vietnam for a relaxed vacation after a long time of hard work. Totally unexpectedly, I soon found shocked by the tragic news about her accidental death! I am sometimes sad to think that, her tragic death is, in a sense, caused by her deep concern for typological studies in China . Because of this concern, she made a special arrangement for ALT9 to be held in HK, which in turn probably led to her plan to travel in Vietnam . As a typologist working in China who has benefited so much from her, I will, for ever, keep her in my memory, for her deep concern for the typological studies in China, her kindly offers and generous help in spite of her constantly huge workload, her full commitments and valuable academic contributions. Institute for Linguistic Typology, Nanchang University
Posted by: Bingfu Lu
I will miss you. What a great person you were!
Posted by: Sihem khalifa
It is a great shock to hear that my dear Prof. Anna Stewierska had left us permanently. I really can not believe it is true as just a few days ago I sent my Xmas message to her, and did not get any reply. But just this afternoon (17 December 2001) I got the message of her traffic accident. On getting the message, as one of her former PhD students,I am not able to control myself, full of tears. I extremely regret to say that I had missed the chance to memorize Anna only because I got it very late. God will bless her--- a nice, knowledgeable, respectful professor.
Posted by: Marvin Hulin Ren
I think Anna's proudest achievement in her time as Head of Department was her work trying to make the department a friendlier place, even if her efforts were not always as successful as she would have hoped. Some of the changes she introduced were organisational matters - broadening the Coordinating Committee, adding other committees on such issues as Staffing, and inviting Human Resources to study stress levels in the department. Other innovations were more informal, such as her interest in occasions such as departmental lunches. I appreciated the parties she held at her house with Dik at The Grove; she was a sophisticated and subtle hostess, moving from room to room, talking to everyone, giving the party a shape. We often talked about departmental matters, and I appreciated her advice and insights, and her interest in her colleagues as diverse and fascinating people, not just as employees of the university. But what I most remember is her standing at my office door, stopping to chat, asking about non-work issues, commenting on a tie or a new shirt, inquiring after health or travels or family or cultural events, and making the place a bit more human. She is much missed.
Posted by: Greg Myers
Anna will always be a special friend to us. She never stopped thinking about others and supporting me in difficult times. I first met Anna as a neighbour in The Grove, Lancaster. We soon became firm friends. My funniest recollection was that on every occasion I entered her lovely house it was a bit like a "speak the weight machine"...we would look at each other, reassure each other that we looked great and then compare weights...it became a ritual after which we would giggle and hug! Anna was generous in every way, she will be in our memories for ever. Thank you for being there for us, you were a perfect little lady with a huge heart.
Posted by: John and Claire Spendlove
Of all the people who have contributed to the study of variation and typology, Anna Siewierska's name comes to our minds immediately. She was phenomenal. Her work has greatly inspired research in Finland. We all know her typological work on passive, person and word order, and her later work on English dialects. Many of us have taken part in research projects with Anna, and many of us have met her on her several visits to Finland. We remember Anna as a leading expert and as a mentor, and also because of her beauty, elegance, wittiness and warmth. We will cherish many fond memories.
Posted by: Maria Vilkuna, Seppo Kittilä, Henna Makkonen-Craig, Susanna Shore, Marja-Liisa Helasvuo, Lea Laitinen, Hannele Forsberg
Anna was my co-supervisor for my PhD thesis. Over the five years I worked with her, it became increasingly obvious that my project was getting further and further away from Anna's own research interests. She didn't give up on me - quite the contrary, she continued to meet me regularly, give me invaluable feedback (of the kind that sometimes only someone from 'outside' can give), and most importantly, gave me endless encouragement. She got me through my viva in May this year... I can't thank her enough for that. As so many of her friends, colleagues and students have already said on this page: her style was just perfect, in so many ways.
Posted by: Kate Torkington
I must admit I could not believe the news when it came of Anna's death, it felt so wrong and as the many testaments here testify a great loss. We were HoDs at the same time and it was always a delight and support to meet Anna at the various functions and meetings we attended together. One can only have good memories of Anna's time here at Lancaster - RIP Anna
Posted by: Vivien Hodgson
I was really distressed to hear of Anna's sad death. I did not know her work but came across her on various committees at Lancaster. She was a person of great ability, wit and insight. My sincerest of condolences to her family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.
Posted by: JOHN URRY
I was fortunate that, when appointed as first Dean of the (merged) Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences at Lancaster, I had some very smart and personable colleagues to work with as Heads of Department. Anna was in the fortunate position of heading one of the very best Departments in the Faculty and she did so with tact and good grace. In 'batting' on behalf of the Department she was a thoroughly good colleague and I count it a special privilege to have worked with an eminent academic and a delightful human being. Dziękuję, Anna! I was very saddened to learn of her untimely death.
Posted by: Professor Tony Gatrell
It was a great privilege to have known Anna. Her enthusiasm for her subject was inspiring, and her respect for those that shared her interests and approach was always evident. She affected the way in which I ask questions about language, if not yet the way in which I attempt to answer them. But I will always carry with me memories of her and her work.
Posted by: Padraic Monaghan
Anna was our neighbour. We spent social time together with both Anna and Dik. Anna always took delight in our three children, regularly enquiring about their wellbeing and academic progress. We shared a love of literature. Anna would often recommend a book or two for holiday reading. We'd compare notes over a glass or two at the parties which have become a regular feature of community life on the Grove. She will be sadly missed but we all remember Anna fondly.
Posted by: Paul, Emma, Jordan, Iona and Charis Egglestone
It was by coincidence that I found out about this tragic accident. Anna was so full of life and a driving force in the field that it is impossible to imagine her absence from our midst. I met Anna for the first time in 1998, at the German Summer School at Mainz University, which Anna was participating in, due to that iteration's focus on linguistic typology. I was teaching at that Summer School, and Anna was a very valuable partner in discussing my classes as well as my research; in addition, we found that we had similar points of view about many aspects of professional and "regular" life. That summer would not have been the same for me without Anna. I extend my condolences to her friends, family, and colleagues. Jaklin Kornfilt
Posted by: Jaklin Kornfilt
It was with great sadness that I heard about the death of Professor Anna Siewierska. Prof. Siewierska and I met at a conference held in Gdansk in 2007 and that was my first opportunity to learn about her outstanding academic achievements. Three years later my supervisor, who had been Prof. Siewierska's supervisor many years ago, suggested that I ask her for help in my research. Prof. Siewierska was glad to be of assistance and I remain grateful for her help. It is most unfortunate that when I went to a conference at Lancaster last July I did not manage to meet her. Professor Siewierska will be sorely missed by her former colleagues and students at the University of Gdansk.
Posted by: Maciej Rataj, University of Gdansk
I was fortunate to have Anna as my dissertation tutor completing my BA in Linguistics in 2008. Her expertise, clarity and approachability were great as she challenged me to push myself. I could not have asked for a better tutor.
Posted by: Peter Browne
I had the pleasure to attend one of Anna's lectures last winter. I was an Erasmus student in Lancaster, which was an overall bad experience for me. I can say that LING 202 brightened up every week, though. There was this elegant, charming, sympathetic, and competent woman teaching us, and although I can only speak for myself, I guess that Anna must have been a role model for so many young women! I've never met her personally, but while reading all these comments I cannot help thinking "That is how I imagined her." My thoughts go to Dik (whose guest lecture was just as amazing as Anna's teaching) and their family and friends.
Posted by: Michele
In terms of work relations, Anna was always a model of courtesy and helpfulness to me. I didn't know her so well personally, but we did have the chance to become better acquainted when we were both in Hong Kong around 2001 for the MA programme there, via having several dinners together, etc. Her company then was, of course, truly stimulating and enjoyable. She was also very helpful to me subsequently in her role as my Professional Development reviewer. I now cherish the memory of all these occasions all the more, and I am very saddened by her untimely loss.
Posted by: Alan Waters
The death of a professor I asked why I asked, I asked One day went by I asked why I asked, I asked I didn't know why Two days, three days, no: four I thought of nothing more Than that which was before Filled with sorrow, grief and pain I knew it wouldn't be the same This greater growing grief Would always be my thief Sentence fragment, argument structure Are labels giving birth to thoughts Thoughts of lectures and seminars Of essays and dissertations They give birth to thoughts Thoughts of Anna Siewierska
Posted by: Bart Modderkolk
I was more than shocked and devastated when I received an earlier email message about her leaving us. I immediately made a phone call to see if there was any chance this could be a'fake'email but only found myself later in lots of tears, alone in the evening. Anna has been an excellent PhD supervisor. She always spoke the truth, when we were not good enough in the begining; yet she is definitely full of warm human qualities. I remember she once wrote, 'Ming, I am proud of you', when I passed my PhD upgrading in 2008; I remember she once noticed I was very weak and thin before thesis submission in 2010 and asked me in private, 'Ming, do you have enough means for living now?'; I also remember on the last day I am about to leave Lancaster, she gathered her favorite students in her cozy house, once again serving us delicious dishes. That day, all of us had a good time and we even planned our next meeting in China. However, God wouldn't let me know that was the last time I could see her alive in this world. So sad! May she rest at peace!
Posted by: Jianming Wu
I was left stunned in my chair when I read from Elaine in the early morning of August 10, 2011, about the sad news that Anna had gone. How could I believe it was true that an always-gracious smiling lady with whom I just had a talk the other day would never come back to me? My eyes blurred with tears and the scenes in my memory with Anna flooded to me. Several days later, I received a tribute written by Martin Haspelmath on behalf of ALT which helps me better understand her as a righteous and excellent linguist. And all the words I have read about her in this place are bringing back to me more and more vivid pictures of a really dear figure which will occupy my mind and heart for ever. I won't repeat all the adjectives people have used to describe her, for such words are never effective enough to characterize her, but I will always cherish the sweet memory with her, as a faithful friend, a helpful mentor, and a dear mother to me. When she learned that I lost my father this June, she sent an immediate email to comfort me, sharing with me her similar experience of losing her father when she was still in another country. I had just struggled out of the depression from the loss of my father after a short journey to Scotland on August 8, only to face another heavy blow of losing my dearest mentor when I came back to Lancaster! I have lost two of the most important and respected people in my life! My loving hatred goes to Lancaster for she has generously brought Anna to me, and ruthlessly taken her away from us! My thoughts go out to Dik and their family.
Posted by: Dr Guohua Zhang, associate professor, visiting scholar from PRC
I got to know Anna only seven years ago when I arrived in Lancaster. She was extremely welcoming towards me as a new member of staff, and very early on she suggested I join her and Anne Wichmann for walks both in the fells and more locally on what I now think of as our local mountain, Clougha. I was surprised that such a serious academic (for she was a very serious academic) had this other side: a commitment to hill-walking, which is something she only really got into on arriving here. With me trailing behind, Anna surged ahead, clambering confidently over rocks ('mountain goat' was the analogy that struck me at the time), while discussing some point of linguistics, departmental business or, more usually, everyday human concerns. On more than one occasion, Anna invited my elderly parents round for coffee, and that gesture was much appreciated. The C floor is quiet now, with many departures, not just Anna's. But it will soon fill again, due to the really solid footing on which Anna (and her successor as Head of Department, Greg Myers) put the Linguistics Department. I am leaving the C floor soon, too. My memory of my Lancaster years will always be associated with Anna.
Posted by: Paul Kerswill
At the beginning of work on the 1st September during the conference 'Explorations in Syntactic Government and Subcategorisation' in Cambridge, UK, we dedicated a short session to remembering Anna Siewierska and her work. The conference was attended by many linguists who had known Anna personally and who had had the privilege of having worked with her on various projects and publications. Indeed it was very much the kind of conference Anna herself would have enjoyed, blending as it did theoretical variety and typological richness in ways that recalled the nature of her own many contributions to the field. Nigel Vincent and Andrej Malchukov gave personal reminiscences and appreciations of Anna as person and scholar and these were followed by a minute's silence in her honour. The memory of her and her influential outputs remained with us throughout the conference in many of our academic and non-academic conversations, and through Anna's most recent substantial volume on 'Impersonal Constructions', co-edited with Andrej and published by Benjamins, which was on display on the conference bookstand. But these were poor compensations for her absence; Anna's loss leaves a gap that is hard to come to terms with. We have agreed to dedicate the volume deriving from the conference to Anna's memory.
Posted by: Anna Kibort
I met Prof. Siewierska when I was doing my MA TESOL in Hong Kong about seven years ago. She was then the supervisor for my dissertation. I was always grateful for her supportive, generous and valuable advice during the writing period. I was lucky to have met such a great linguist and wonderful person. Prof. Siewierska, I will remember you and may you rest in peace.
Posted by: Karen Chiang (MA TESOL HK Cohort 4)
I have never met her; never had the chance to contact her. I have only known her through her work: a remarkable linguist and a great writer. I was hoping to meet her in October 2012, but . . . My sympathies are with Dik and her family and the Department of Linguistics and English Language. May God rest her soul in eternal peace, Amen!
Posted by: Professor Mujib Rahman, University of Peshawar
I met Anna in 2006 when I arrived in Lancaster for a sabbatical year and a friendship started. We shared many lunches, many coffees. She was always welcoming, always interested in talking and listening, about linguistics & life in general, always beautiful, as she will now be... for ever. My thoughts are with Dik and her dearest friends & family.
Posted by: Amaya Mendikoetxea
When I saw the announcement of Anna's death, I felt devastated. I had been in touch with her since July 2010 through e-mails. Anna, the linguist was known to me earlier as I share the same research interest with her, i.e. linguistic typology. But my visit to Lancaster University during July 2010 gave me a chance to meet a wonderful person, Anna Siewierska.I just want to say that she really inspired me and motivated with my studies. I pray God to give her family enough strength to bear with the loss. May her soul rest in Peace!
Posted by: Anindita Sahoo
Ania had this unique ability to combine hard work with pleasure and that might partly be why she was so successful in both her professional and personal life. I cannot believe I`ll never see her and talk to her.
Posted by: Ewa Kremky, Gdansk University
Anna was one of my lecturers at Monash University in 1984. She taught linguistics while she was completing her PhD thesis (published as Word order rules [Croom Helm, 1988]). Her students, among themselves, used to describe her as "the PhD student who published her MA thesis as a book (and was very likely to publish her PhD thesis as another book)". Her students were all in awe of her remarkable academic successes. But as I got to know her better, I realized how approachable and helpful she was. Her door was always open to me (and other students). This is not to imply that she wasn't strict with her students, as she was one of the hardest markers among the teaching staff! Although she taught me only for one year, she had continued to provide me with advice, academic or otherwise. She sort of became my mentor. Anna typically began her email by telling me what she had done with her husband or friends and asking me how I was doing. She was a genuinely kind and thoughtful person. Her last email to me was sent while she was waiting for a taxi to take her to the airport for her ill-fated trip. In that email, she expressed how excited she was about her holiday in Vietnam. It is still hard to believe that she is no longer with us. She had always been, and will continue to be, my role model, and she will always be in my heart. I miss her enormously.
Posted by: Jae Jung Song
Anna was a unique woman with a sharp mind, a great sense of humour and many interesting stories to tell. About 14 years ago, when I had just started as a researcher in the department, and much too in awe of most of the lecturing staff to attempt to strike up conversations, I remember Anna taking the time to ask me how I was getting on. And years later, when she was Head of Department Anna represented my promotion case - for which I was always grateful to her. She was someone I sought out to talk to at social events, and my partner and I had been touched by the thoughtful gift she'd given us when she came round for dinner recently, and which we'll always treasure. A few months ago I was surprised to hear that she under-estimated the value of her own research, despite the fact that she was one of the most productive, hard-working and intelligent members of our department. Among her many kindnesses and academic successes, Anna will also be remembered for her brilliant sense of style, which was often way beyond anything that is seen in quiet Lancaster. I was never surprised to bump into her in some of the more upmarket department stores in Manchester, and I recall one occasion a couple of years ago when during a departmental meeting, someone told her that she was wearing her new cardigan inside out because the seams were showing. She had to kindly explain that the cardigan was designed that way on purpose, as it was the current fashion. I will miss my next-door (office) neighbour - nobody will ever fill her (always exquisite) shoes. My thoughts go out to Dik.
Posted by: Paul Baker
Sometime in July, I was engrossed in taking photographs on the canal between Glasson Dock and Galgate, and said 'hello' to a passing group of people without taking in who they were. I recognized the voice that said, quizzically, 'Hello Norman' as Anna's, and turned to make my apologies. Anna, Dik, their friend and I chatted for a while, and I turned away thinking what lovely people Anna and Dik were, and that we should try to see more of them. Then the awful news came of Anna dying in that senseless way. It is good to have known her, and to have such a delightful final memory of her. Our academic interests were very different, but we did have some serious discussions, which contributed to my respect for Anna's acute intelligence and intellectual integrity. She was a charming, gracious and humane woman, and I shall miss bumping into her and having a friendly chat, no longer on the corridors of the department but quite often in the supermarket.
Posted by: Norman Fairclough
A great linguist, good friend and a wonderful person. I'll miss her humour, kindness, and exceptional style.
Posted by: Angela Ralli
Intellect and elegance. Your presence in the LAEL corridors will be much missed.
Posted by: Jane Sunderland
Aniu, you were the most important person for me years ago when we were young and happy. You will stay in my heart forever. Jurek
Posted by: Jerzy A. Ejsmont
I saw the announcement of Anna's death, which is just devastating. I'm so sorry...she was a great linguist and, by all accounts, a great person. Her book on the passive prompted what I felt was my first original thought about syntax and semantics. It was the first time I'd experienced that feeling of excitement that comes with intellectual discovery. I don't know if I'd be a linguist now if it hadn't been for that moment.
Posted by: Antonio Fortin
My sincere condolences for the death of my beautiful and motherly supervisor, Professor Anna Siewierska. Anna knew me personally and academically. She was patient, and helped me so much with my studies. She will never ask me again if I have any problems while I am studying in Lancaster - whether I feel frozen when the days are too cold for a person from a tropical country like me. I will always remember the way she took care of me when my Dad passed away last year. There is so much to remember and to be thankful for. I am so lucky to have known Anna in my life. I never had a chance to say goodbye, but I will never forget her. Rest in Peace.
Posted by: Noor Malihah
I just wanted to say she was my undergrad dissertation supervisor, and without her, I couldn't have produced the highly-marked dissertation that contributed to my selection for PhD funding. I was shocked and saddened at her untimely death - a huge loss for linguistics, as she was obviously an immensely knowledgeable grammarian who would've carried out a lot more research. Dik taught me a couple of times in my undergrad days, and I really enjoyed his lectures too. My thoughts are with him and the rest of the family.
Posted by: Lucinda Machell-Ffolkes
I became Anna's student as an undergraduate at Lancaster in 1995, and really enjoyed her classes. It was largely because of Anna's enthusiasm and encouragement that I specialised in her subject area for my MA. She really inspired me and motivated me with my studies, and was the best mentor I could have asked for as a postgraduate. Anna was always there for me if I needed any advice about anything, and would go the extra mile. She meant a great deal to me, as a tutor and as a friend, and we had kept in touch over the years, so when I heard the news about what had happened I was devastated. My heart goes out to her family and all those close to her.
Posted by: Elaine Goodall
Anna, I haven't known you very long but I am privileged to have known you at all. From the moment I arrived in Lancaster you have shown me only kindness, generosity and encouragement, and for that I will always be grateful. Your death is a senseless and tragic loss but if any good should come of it, it should be to remind us all to live our lives by your example, to pack them full to the brim with new experiences and interesting people, and to enjoy ourselves. That's how I'll remember you.
Posted by: Lynn Clark
I was about to meet Anna, who was the editor of the EUROTYP volume Constituent Order in the Languages of Europe, published by De Gruyter Mouton in 1998, for the first time. I already had much respect for her before I actually met her: she had begun her studies at the University of Gdansk, then moved on to Monash (Australia), where she gained her PhD in 1985. Anna then attended the University of Amsterdam before she received her Post-doctoral (habilitation degree) at the University of Gdansk in 1992. She was appointed Professor of Linguistics and Human Communication at Lancaster University, but also spent time as a Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, and the list of achievements went on and on. She was one of the ''hard working'' linguists - no doubt, given the career trajectory, but was also rumored to be efficient, caring, supportive of her students, attractive, in short: she had a reputation for being perfect.
I was a little nervous to approach her. I had just listened to a well-presented talk on ''ditransitives,'' if I remember correctly, and I thought I should try to find her and congratulate her on her presentation. I discovered her standing at the buffet in the distance. She stood still and did not move at all. ''She looks like an iconic figure,'' I said to myself. Then something caught my eye: I saw a bright pop of color twinkling from below the buffet's white tablecloths. I realized that it was Anna's shoes. They were bright red shoes, and they were glorious! So while I meant to approach her in a professional way, what I really said was, ''Great talk, Anna, but you know what? Even greater shoes!'' Anna burst out laughing and almost couldn't stop. ''Oh yes,'' she cried, ''I loved them, too - before I realized I had to walk in them!'' In this very non-academic moment, a wonderful friendship was born. This is how I want to remember Anna; an excellent linguist, but also a warm, charming, affectionate woman with a great sense of wit and style.
We, my colleagues at De Gruyter Mouton and I, would like to express our gratitude that she became our author, editor, friend and advisor. Our thoughts are with Dik Bakker, her husband, at this time. Anna will be greatly missed.
Posted by: Anke Beck and the De Gruyter Mouton team, Kirstin Börgen, Emily Farrell, Barbara Karlson, Katja Lehming, Jennifer Mand, Julie Miess, Marcia Schwartz, Birgit Sievert, Uri Tadmor
I will miss her spark and her style, that tremendous combination of brain and glamour she displayed. Such extraordinary bad luck is always hard to accept.
Posted by: John Heywood
One day a year or two ago I had been giving a lecture in Beijing at the Foreign Studies University. On a crowded staircase, surrounded by Chinese students, I saw a familiar European figure. I had not been expecting to see Anna, but what a great pleasure it was to have her warm greeting. It was also Anna who welcomed me, graciously, elegantly and with great understanding, when I arrived in Lancaster not so many years ago. I have worked alongside Anna for all too short a time, sharing in the supervision of her doctoral students and in her research interests. She was a distinguished and inspiring linguist, who had a deep insight into the variety and yet the unity of human language. She enriched our scholarship and our collegial life immensely.
Posted by: Paul Chilton
The Council of the Philological Society has heard the news of Anna Siewierska's untimely death with shock and sadness. A long-standing member of the Society, Anna took an active role in its affairs, in recent years serving a four-year term as member of Council and editing a much-praised special issue of the Society's journal on the topic of impersonal constructions (TPhS 106.2). Individual members of Council have warm memories of her as a sympathetic and helpful editor, a careful and considerate chair of examiners, and someone who was always willing to talk to and encourage postgraduates, in a way that is really quite rare. She will be missed as much for her commitment to fostering the work of future scholars as for her own distinguished contributions as one of the world's leading exponents of linguistic typology.
Posted by: Professor Sylvia Adamson (on behalf of the Council of the Philological Society)
Please use the form to post tributes and share memories of Anna.