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Prof. Ludwik Zabrocki

Professor Ludwik Zabrocki 


        Ludwik Zabrocki, was born to Józef Zabrocki and his wife – Emma from the Weinberg family on 24 November 1907 in Czersk, in Pomerania. The parents were deeply patriotic. Young Zabrocki attended an elementary school in Czersk and then a gymnasium in Chojnice, where he took his high school finals in 1927. In the same year he started university. Initially, Zabrocki studied Polish studies at the Department of Humanities at Poznań University (PU). Later, he also studied Indo-European and Oriental studies. He graduated in 1931 and received an MA degree in dialectology. The thesis, titled The Local Dialect of Bory Tucholskie was published in 1934. In the years 1930 through1936 Zabrocki worked as an assistant at the Department of Indo-European Linguistics at PU. In 1935 he also started teaching Polish at the Collegium Marianum in Poznań. A year later, he moved to Gdynia where we worked at the Business High School and, starting in 1937, at the State Maritime School in Gdynia, where he taught Polish and history of navigation.

        During the World War II, Ludwik Zabrocki was in hiding in his family house in Czersk.

        In 1945 Zabrocki came back to Poznań and to the local university, where he worked for his entire life. In June of 1945, he defended his doctoral thesis Present and Past Tense Indicativus in the Old Prussian Sambia Dialect supervised by Mikołaj Rudnicki. In the same year, Zabrocki received a postdoctoral degree. His postdoctoral thesis which was published in 1951 under the title Reinforcement and lenition in Indo-European Languages and Ugro-Finnic Language. He became an assistant professor in 1949. He specialized in comparative grammar of Indo-European languages. In 1955 Zabrocki was nominated an associate professor, and a full professor in 1962. In 1970 Professor Zabrock was chosen a corresponding member, and in 1976 a real member of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

        Professor Ludwik Zabrocki was one of the most eminent Polish linguists. His scientific interests included, among others, general, diachronic and comparative linguistics, structural phonetics and cybernetic linguistics. Yet, the most fundamental area of his research was widely understood applied linguistics, on the basis of which he created foundations for a new branch of linguistic research - glottodidactics.

        His scholarly achievements include about 150 titles. Many of them are fundamental works in the disciplines they represent; for example, the monograph Communication Communities in the Genesis and Development of German, vol. I: Prehistory of the German Language (Warsaw 1963), Linguistic Principles of Foreign Language Teaching (Warsaw 1966), Grundfragen des Deutschunterrichts in fremdsprachlicher Umgebung (Poznań 1976) and Kybernetische Modelle der sprachlichen Kommunikation (Warsaw 1975), for which he was registered in the Roll of Deeds and Achievements of the Polish Science at its Second Congress.  He spoke at a number of national and foreign prestigious conferences in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), the USA and Canada. He was known as the nestor of Polish Neophilology.

    Except for scientific work, professor Zabrocki was engaged in a number of organizations. In 1946 he created Phonographic Archives in Poznań and managed them until 1951. In the academic year 1953-54 he was a deputy dean of the Department of Philology and, in the academic year 1954-56, a dean of the Department of Philology. Furthermore, in the years 1963-69, he was a supervisor of the Department of the Germanic Languages. In 1969-1974, he managed the Institute of West Germanic Languages. In 1964, Zabrocki crated the first Polish Department of Applied Linguistics, and one of the few worldwide, which later developed into the Institute of Applied Linguistics. Professor Zabrocki managed the Institute from 1976. He was also the head of the Institute of Linguistics (AMU).  

Profesor Zabrocki actively participated in national and international scientific associations.  For many years he was a member of the Government Commission of Local Names. In 1968-1975, he was the president of the Polish – East German Germanic Commission and a corresponding member of the Institut für Deutsche Sprache in Mannheim (FRG) from 1967 until his death. In the years 1968-1969, professor Zabrocki was the chair of Societas Linguistica Europaea (Kiel, FRG), a member of the International Committee of Dialectologists and a vice chair of the International Association of Linguistic Sound Recording Archives. Furthermore, in 1971 he became the chair of the Neophilological Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences. After a branch of the Polish Academy of Sciences was created in Poznań, he also became the chair of the Neophilological Committee. 

He was the chair of the Polish Nautical Association, a supervisor of the Didactic and Educational Neophilological Team at the Department of Science, Higher Education and Technology, as well as, a member of the Government Central Selection Committee.

Professor Zabrocki was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of the following scientific journals: Lingua Posnaniensis, Phonographic Bulletin, Glottodidactica. He was also part of the editorial staff of such foreign journals as Phonetica, Modern Language Abstracts (USA) and Zeitschrift für Phonetik, allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft und Kommunikationsforschung (GDR).

        Professor Ludwik Zabrocki was successful in training scientific workers in Poland and abroad. In addition to a number of MA students, he had thirty PhD students, including three from the former East Germany. Furthermore, eighteen scholars, supervised by Professor Zabrocki were granted postdoctoral degrees. Professor Zabrocki also worked with interns from abroad.

        The Professor’s scientific achievements and his activities have been appreciated by a number of assemblies. He was awarded a first degree award of the Secretary of Science, Higher Education and Technology three times (1963, 1969, 1976). He was honored with the Golden Cross of Merit, the Officer's Cross of the Order of Poland's Restoration (1962), Medals of the 10th and 30th Anniversary of the People's Republic of Poland (PRP), a Golden Badge of Merit of a Distinguished Employee of the Sea (1962) and, posthumously, the title of PRP Meritorious Teacher. The Goethe Institute in Munich awarded Professor Zabrocki a Golden Medal in 1974 for his contributions to German Studies and teaching German in Poland. A year later, Mannheim City Council awarded him a Konrad Duden Grand Award.

        Professor Zabrocki died on 8 October 1977 and was buried in the communal cemetery in Junikowo. One of the lecture halls in Collegium Novum UAM was named after him on 23 October 1997. Furthermore, the Polish Neophilological Association has instituted a Professor Ludwik Zabrocki Medal, which is awarded to outstanding activists.