Karl-Dieter Buenting ’64

Karl-Dieter Buenting ’64 died on December 14, 2020, in Essen, Germany.

(The following was provided by the Universitȁt Duisburg Essen on December 14, 2020)

Karl-Dieter Buenting ’64

Karl-Dieter Buenting ’64

The wild cherry that Karl-Dieter Bünting planted in the 1980s in front of the canteen alongside other trees together with former rectorate colleagues has grown. In 1972, after holding academic posts in Marburg, Bonn and Berlin, Bünting came to the newly founded Essen University as a founding senator and professor of linguistics – at a time when none of the current buildings were standing, and humanities teaching was taking place in the former PH, the Senate, the The Rectorate and the administration resided in rented offices. He passed away on the night of December 13th to 14th at the age of 81.

Karl-Dieter Bünting was not only a member of the founding senate, but also Vice-Rector for Studies and Teaching and Dean of the Department of Literature and Linguistics. As an innovator and organizer, he shaped the profile of Essen’s linguistics like no other. The establishment of courses such as communication studies, German as a foreign language / German as a second language or Turkish studies go back to his initiatives – but also flagships such as remedial classes for migrant children (which arose from a research project on bilingualism in 1974) or the writing workshop. In addition to his teaching activities in Essen, he held a teaching position at the Ruhr University in Bochum, where he was an examiner in countless state examinations.

Professor Bünting has always translated scientific work into study and life practice. His “Introduction to Linguistics”, first published in 1971, has long since become a classic. He has written textbooks and workbooks for all school types, worked on a Polish German textbook, wrote popular guides on language use and a children’s book about the origins of the language, which was published in several editions by “Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag” and translated into Brazilian Portuguese. He was happy to face the challenges of the mass university – whether with lectures in the largest hall of the “Cinemaxx”, with a basic linguistics course on video or with a CD collection on language varieties.

Regular participation in the children’s university was just as much a part of his activities as working on the international summer courses at the DUE university, which he once initiated and in which he continued to teach after his retirement. His commitment to “internationalization” – long before this term was used to signal our university’s openness to the world – led to a large number of international partnerships (with Egyptian, Polish, Russian, Belarusian, Afghan and Chinese universities) and was awarded honorary doctorates, honorary professorships and other international awards. Some of Bünting’s international contacts grew into friendships that he maintained until the end. For him it was natural that many guest researchers were able to live for months in the Bünting house or in an apartment he had privately financed in the “Brücke”. He sent his own employees on shorter and longer guest stays around the world, and some of the doctoral students he supervised later became professors in Algeria, Egypt, Afghanistan, China, Denmark – but also in Dresden or Siegen.

“All languages are the same – only very different.”

If anyone was an ambassador of intercultural understanding out of deepest conviction, it was Karl-Dieter Bünting. Not only his former employees and colleagues will miss him…


(The following was provided by Wikipedia)

life and work

Bünting earned his Abitur in 1958 in Bad Sooden-Allendorf. He studied German, English and philosophy in Marburg, Vienna , Göttingen and Bonn . In 1960 and 1961 he completed a year of study at Bowdoin College in Maine (USA). In this environment he worked for three months in the summer of 1961 as a student assistant at MIT on a project on machine language translation. Here Bünting acquired knowledge of modern linguistics and computational linguistics, which was to have a decisive influence on his career as a linguist. In 1964 he passed his state examination in Marburg. From 1964 to 1968 Bünting worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Phonetics and Communication Research at the University of Bonn. In 1968 he received his doctorate there with the thesis “Morphological Structures of German Words. A problem of linguistic data processing”. From 1968 to 1972 Bünting worked as a research assistant at the Chair of Linguistics at the Technical University of Berlin . He habilitated there with the work “Introduction to Linguistics”. This work was the first introduction to this subject to be published in Germany. In 1971 he was appointed Scientific Councilor and Professor. In 1972 he was appointed to the newly created Chair for Linguistics of the German Language at the Comprehensive University of Essenappointed. He held this chair until his retirement in 2004. During his time in Essen, he was dean and vice-dean of the Department of Literature and Linguistics with the subjects German and English and also for the new teaching areas of communication and Turkish studies that were introduced at his initiative. From the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, Bünting also held a teaching position at the Ruhr University in Bochum .

publications and collaborations

Bünting has published numerous guides such as “Writing during your studies”, non-fiction books, dictionaries and grammars on the German language. He has worked as an author and editor of textbooks and workbooks on the German language for elementary, secondary, secondary and vocational schools as well as for grammar schools. He has contributed to German textbooks for Russian and Polish students. Many of the works on the German language were not distributed through bookshops but through discounters.

He has established international scientific cooperations such as with Ain-Shams Cairo, with the University of Warsaw, with the Polish Academy of Sciences, with the Kant University of Kaliningrad and with universities in China. He was able to obtain support from the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft for some of these projects .


Bünting was honorary professor at the Beijing International Studies University in Beijing and at the Chinese University of Mining and Technology in Xushou (China). He is the first recipient of the Honorary Statuette of the Association of Polish Germanists .Bünting received an honorary doctorate from the University of Kaliningrad in 2004.

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