SSILA was sorry to hear of the death of Hans-Jürgen Sasse on Jan 14, 2015.
Sasse studied Linguistics, Indo-European, Semitics and Balkanology in Berlin, Thessaloniki and Munich. He was awarded a Ph.D. in 1970 in Munich by the Department of Semitic Languages for his dissertation Linguistische Analyse des arabischen Dialekts der Mhallamiye in der Provinz Mardin (Südosttürkei). From 1972 to 1977 he was Research Assistant at the Institut für Allgemeine und Indogermanische Sprachwissenschaft (Institute for General and Indo-European Linguistics) in Munich. In 1975, he received his Habilitation with the book Die Morphophonologie des Galab-Verbs and in 1977 he was made a Professor. In 1987 he received a call from University of Cologne as the successor to Hansjakob Seiler as the Chair of General and Comparative Linguistics. Sasse retired in the Winter Semester 2008/2009 after 21 years as endowed chair at Cologne.
Sasse was cofounder of the “Documentation of Endangered Languages” Initiative of the Volkswagen Foundation , Founding President of the Society for Endangered Languages and (from 2001) a full member of the North Rhine Westphalia Academy of Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts.
Sasse was concerned with grammatical relations and lexical categories, language universals, discourse, and grammar, historical linguistics and reconstruction. He also conducted research on language contact and language death, as well as the lexicon. Among the languages and language families on which he conducted research were languages of the Balkans (especially Modern Greek and Albanian), Afro-Asiatic languages (especially Semitic languages and Cushitic languages), and Native American languages, especially Iroquoian languages.