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Heine, B.

Heine, B.

Bernd Heine, born in Mohrungen, Poland, in 1939. Ph.D. from Universität zu Köln. Professor Emeritus of African Studies at Universität zu Köln.

Fellow (1 September 2005 – 30 June 2006)


My main goal during the academic year 2005/6 at NIAS was to work with Tania Kuteva on a book on language genesis and language evolution as part of the group project “Restricted Linguistic Systems as a Window to Language Genesis” (in short, the Windows Project). The method employed was grammaticalization theory, which is concerned with the rise, development, and structure of functional categories. By May 2006, a book manuscript (roughly 350 pages), entitled Reconstructing the Evolution of Grammar, was completed. The main thesis of this work is that the evolution of human language was gradual, proceeding from elementary one-word utterances in an incremental fashion to increasing grammatical complexity.

In addition, a number of other research projects were carried out during this year. One of them resulted in a volume of papers entitled Africa as a Linguistic Area, jointly edited with my Canadian colleague Derek Nurse, to be published by Cambridge University Press. The goal of this volume is to show that historical relationship among the more than 2000 African languages cannot be accounted for satisfactorily only in terms of genetic relationship; rather, that there are some significant areal patternings in Africa, described in this volume as Sprachbünde.

A third major project, initiated prior to coming to NIAS, concerned regularities in grammatical change in situations of language contact, resulting in the publication of the following monographs: Bernd Heine and Tania Kuteva, Language contact and grammatical change (Cambridge University Press, 2005), and Bernd Heine and Tania Kuteva, The changing languages of Europe (Oxford University Press, June, 2006).

Other activities included lecturing in six Dutch universities, assisting younger Dutch colleagues in their research projects, serving as external examiner in two Ph.D. defenses, and attending conferences in the Netherlands, France and Germany.