Alexander Kautzsch (1969-2018)

It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the death of Alexander Kautzsch, who died of a massive heart attack on March 2 of this year. Alex’s death came as a huge shock to everyone who knew him; it has made the lives of his colleagues, friends, and loved ones much poorer.

Alex studied English and German at the University of Regensburg, with a year abroad at the University of Wolverhampton, in preparation for a career as a high school teacher. It never came to that, because his gift for linguistic research immediately landed him a job at Regensburg’s English Department, one of the hotbeds of the study of varieties of English in Germany. Alex’s interests spanned an unusually broad range of topics, methods, and data. In his Ph.D. dissertation, he examined the history of African American Vernacular English as reflected in a number of written sources; the resulting book publication (The Historical Evolution of Earlier African American English, Mouton de Gruyter, 2002) is among the works regularly quoted in relation to the acrimoniously debated question of the origins of the variety, in which it stands out for its sober reasoning and cool-headedness. In his post-doctoral thesis (The Attainment of an English Accent: British and American Features in Advanced German Learners, Lang, 2017), Alex explored in depth and detail the extra- and intra-linguistic factors influencing accent variation among German-speaking users of English. In the World Englishes community, Alex is probably best known for the model of Extra‐ and Intra‐territorial Forces (EIF), which he developed together with Sarah Buschfeld and which integrates non-postcolonial varieties of English as used, for example, in Germany, Cyprus, or Namibia, in a unified framework comprising both foreign- and second-language English (“Towards an integrated approach to postcolonial and non‐postcolonial Englishes,” World Englishes 13:1, 2017). For all his theoretical prowess, Alex also did not shy away from the nitty-gritty work of corpus compilation, as evidenced in his enthusiasm for ICE Namibia, the Namibian subcomponent of the International Corpus of English.

Alex was a gifted academic teacher. He was dedicated to his students, and they loved his matter-of-fact, straightforward manner. Because of his heavy teaching load, innumerable students profited from his courses; most of them enjoyed even “dry” subjects such English syntax if he taught them. In his long time at Regensburg, he also covered just about every function available at a large university department, from student advisor and IT representative all the way to member of the university council and senate. In all of these functions, Alex maintained his positive, fact-oriented spirit, which made collaborating with him a pleasure even when mere formalities were at stake.

Alex was liked, appreciated, and admired by all of his colleagues and friends, at Regensburg and elsewhere. He will be sorely missed for his loyal and caring way, his generosity and unpretentiousness, and his inspiring passion for linguistics.

(Stephanie Hackert)


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