Detlev Blanke (1941-2016)

Dr. Detlev Blanke, one of the most renowned contemporary scholars in the field of interlinguistics, and long-time ESF partner, died in Berlin on August 20th. Blanke was born May 30th, 1941. In 1957 he taught himself Esperanto. He received his Ph. D. in 1976 with a dissertation comparing word creation in Esperanto and German (Plansprache und Nationalsprache), and obtained a docent’s diploma in 1985 with a dissertation on planned languages (Internationale Plansprachen). In 1988 he became docent in interlinguistics at Berlin Humboldt University, where he regularly lectured until 2007.

Blanke was secretary of the Esperanto Working Group of the German Democratic Republic Culture League, 1968-1980, and from 1981 secretary of the the GDR Culture League’s Esperanto Association, which in 1991 united with the German Esperanto Association.  As secretary of the German Esperanto Association he also edited its magazine der esperantist. From 1992 to 2013 he compiled (in cooperation with Humphrey Tonkin) a bibliography on Esperanto and interlinguistics for the U.S. Modern Language Association (MLA).

Among Blanke’s initiatives was the Esperantological Conferences, which have occurred at every World Esperanto Congress since 1978. He organized approximately 20 of these conferences and edited the acts of several of them. In 1991 Blanke co-founded Gesellschaft für Interlinguistik (Society for Interlinguistics; GIL). He was its president until 2011 and edited its newsletter and the acts of many GIL conferences.

Blanke lectured at many Esperanto gatherings, linguistic conferences and other events in many countries. He was an enormously prolific author and editor: his bibliography numbers over 1200 publications. With his wife Wera, he, among other things, worked in the field of terminology and initiated the founding of the Esperanto Terminological Centre of the World Esperanto Association in 1987. For their contributions to the field of terminology, Detlev and Wera were both awarded the Eugen Wüster Medal by Inforterm in 2006. For his work in interlinguistics Blanke also received the Estonian Academicus Paul Ariste award.

Detlev Blanke was a World Esperanto Association Committee member (1978-1998) and member of various commissions and working groups, including serving as judge (in the essay category) for the World Esperanto Association’s literary competitions since 1980. He was also a member of the local organizing committee for the 84th World Esperanto Congress in Berlin in 1999. In 2011 he was named an honorary member of the World Esperanto Association.

From 1974 Detlev Blanke was a board member of the ESF-supported Centre for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems (CRD) and edited the Centre’s bulletin Informilo por Interlingvistoj starting in 1992.


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