Anna Siewierska, 1955-2011

September 22, 2011

Anna Siewierska was best known in academic circles for her work in linguistic typology, but her colleagues also remember her excellent hosting skills, her friendly nature and her love of hiking and theatre.

Professor Siewierska was born in 1955 and completed her undergraduate studies at Monash University.

She remained at the Australian institution for her master's degree and doctorate before beginning her academic career as a lecturer there.

She then moved to the University of Gdansk in Poland, where she was lecturer in the department of English, before joining the University of Amsterdam, where she was senior research Fellow in the department of general linguistics.

In 1994, she moved to Lancaster University, where she remained for the rest of her career, as professor of linguistics and human communication.

As well as her academic work, Professor Siewierska was also involved with professional organisations, including the Philological Society and the Linguistics Association of Great Britain.

She served as president of the Societas Linguistica Europaea in 2002 and her contribution to the field was recognised the following year, when she was elected a member of the Academia Europaea.

She was also the president of the Association for Linguistic Typology at the time of her death.

In a joint tribute, Barry Blake, emeritus professor of linguistics at La Trobe University, Willem Hollmann, lecturer in linguistics at Lancaster, Nigel Vincent, Mont Follick professor of comparative philology at the University of Manchester, and Anne Wichmann, professor of speech and language at the University of Central Lancashire, called Professor Siewierska "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," the group said.

"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."

Professor Siewierska died in a road accident in Vietnam on 6 August. She is survived by her husband, Dik Bakker, a fellow linguist at the universities of Amsterdam and Lancaster.

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