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In memoriam William Nemser (1923-2015).

William Nemser, founding Professor of the Department of English and American Studies, passed away on Thursday, 12th March 2015 at the age of 91.

As a pioneer in English Studies at the University of Klagenfurt, he will always hold a prominent position in the department's memory. Over decades, his sharp intellect and his inimitable humour were the hallmark of the Klagenfurt English Department.

William Nemser was a real scholar. In scholarly discourse, academic hierarchies were of little consequence to him. He stood for, and lived, his subject, linguistics, without ever losing sight of the expanse of academia. His professional background and his experience brought an entirely new dimension to English Linguistics in Austria. His career led him from Columbia University in New York and from the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington DC to Europe, where he exerted a permanent impact by applying the concepts of Contrastive Linguistics to various European languages. His scholarly career took him via stopovers in former Yugoslavia to Romania and Hungary, where his work on approximative systems left permanent traces in the research literature. It was typical of his scholarly curiosity that he resisted repeated attempts made by his home institution to call him back to the US and instead continued his scholarly work in Europe, even in politically difficult times.

On 1st October 1973 William Nemser was appointed Professor of English Linguistics including Language Pedagogy at the newly founded Department of English and American Studies. Here he faced the challenge of setting up a university department. The stories he had to tell about this task were as entertaining as they were instructive in showing the manifold challenges to be mastered in the process of developing an academic institution and implementing innovative ideas. In the Klagenfurt Department, his work laid the foundations of Applied Linguistics, which to this day continues to be a characteristic feature of this institution.

William Nemser's scholarly interest in linguistics in general and in language acquisition in particular remained vibrant also after his retirement. We were all very happy to meet him on the occasion of the department's 40thanniversary, which gave us the chance to retain vivid, thankful and admiring memories of him. We no longer hear him laugh in the corridor, but his ideas are around.

Gunther Sigott

University of Klagenfurt

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Title Annotation:IN MEMORIAM
Author:Sigott, Gunther
Publication:European English Messenger
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:4EUAU
Date:Dec 22, 2015
Words:381
Previous Article:Editorial note.
Next Article:In memoriam Helmut Bonheim (1930-2012).
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