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Herr Prof. em. Dr. John Walmsley

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Curriculum Vitae

Anglia me genuit.
Oxonia Alatra Castra Dunelmumque
me docuerunt.
Germania me tenet.

John Walmsley (1937-

1955-57 National Service (R.A.)
1957-60 St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, UK (B.A. English Language & Literature)
19561-63 teacher in France (Tours), Spain (Madrid), and Germany (Hamburg)
1963-64 postgraduate student, St. Cuthbertʼs Society, Durham, UK
(Diploma in Education; PhD).
1964-65 teacher in Germany (Hamburg)
1965-68 Lektor, Seminar für Englische Sprache und Kultur, Hamburg University, Germany
1968-69 postgraduate student, Edinburgh University, UK
(Diploma in General Linguistics).
1969-71 Senior Lecturer, St. Maryʼs College, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
1971-80 Professor für Englische Sprache und Literatur und ihre Didaktik,
Pädagogische Hochschule Westfalen-Lippe, Abt. Bielefeld, Germany
1976-78 elected Dean of the Faculty
1980- Professor, Faculty of Linguistics & Literature (Linguistik und
Literaturwissenschaft), Bielefeld University, Germany
1992-93 Visiting Fellow, Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics
(RCEAL), Cambridge University, UK
from 2000 Professor emeritus


John Walmsley wurde in Tunstall, Staffordshire, in England geboren.
Von 1957 bis 1960 studierte er in St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, unter dem ʽgreat triumvirateʼ Reggie Alton, Graham Midgley und Bruce Mitchell English Language and Literature. Nach dem Abschluß (B.A.) unterrichtete er Englisch in Frankreich, Spanien (Madrid), England und Deutschland (Hamburg).
Zusätzlich spielte er ein Jahr Rugby in Frankreich (2me. division, Union sportive Tours rugby), sowie in Madrid und Hamburg. In Hamburg wurde er Gründungsmitglied des Hamburg Exiles Rugby F.C.

1963-1964 studierte er in St. Cuthbertʼs Society der Universität Durham, England, für das Diploma in Education. PhD unter Professor Gordon Batho mit einer Arbeit über Wolfgang Ratke (1571-1635). Bis 1968 war er Lektor am Seminar für Englische Sprache und Kultur an der Universität Hamburg. Außerdem arbeitete er u.a. als Übersetzer, Filmsynchronisator und Autor von Schulsendungen für den Norddeutschen Schulfunk. Gleichzeitig weitere Studien der Phonetik und der Allgemeinen Sprachwissenschaft an der Universität Hamburg.

Von 1968-1969 studierte er bei (u.a.) John Lyons, Ron Asher, Gill Brown, Keith Brown, John Laver und Jim Miller für das Diploma in General Linguistics an der Universität Edinburgh.

Nach Abschluß seines Diplomstudiums Senior Lecturer in English in St. Maryʼs College, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England.

1971 Ruf an die Pädagogische Hochschule Westfalen-Lippe, Abteilung Bielefeld.

1973 Gründungsmitglied und ehem. 1. Vorsitzender des Bielefelder Schulvereins (BiBiS).

1976-78 Fachbereichsdekan. Ab 1980 Ordentlicher Professor für Englische Sprache und Literatur und ihre Didaktik an der Fakultät für Linguistik und Literaturwissenschaft, Universität Bielefeld.

1992-93 Visiting Fellow am Research Centre for English und Applied Linguistics (RCEAL), Universität Cambridge, England.

Derzeit Prof. emeritus der Universität Bielefeld.


I had been working in Hamburg since 1962. After my season in the French second division, and one with Maratón in Madrid, I had been wondering whether any rugby was played in Hamburg - or indeed in Germany, when I saw a notice in the Hamburger Abendblatt (or was it the BILD-Zeitung? Both of them used to report our matches). At any rate, in the early summer of 1966 I saw an advert in the local press saying that a number of foreign players, mainly Brits, playing with German teams in Hamburg were planning to hold a meeting with a view to forming a club of their own.

This was exactly what Iʼd been looking for, so I went along. This - our first and founding - meeting took place in a Gaststätte in Bahrenfeld on the corner of Theodorstraße and the Bundesstrasse 431, just where it changes from Von-Sauer-Straße to Osdorfer Weg. When you leave the motorway, come up to the traffic lights and turn left in the direction of Rissen, Wedel and Flottbek, itʼs on the first corner on your right, where Theodorstraße turns into Osdorfer Weg. I forget what the Gaststätte was called in those days, but I look at it affectionately every time I drive past on a visit to Hamburg. It has changed its name many times over the years - in 2015 it was ʽMiss Yang,ʼ in 2013 it was ʽCasa Fellini,ʼ and at the time of writing [2020] itʼs ʽTaste of the Tandoori/Tandoori Maza.ʼ The last time I took a closer look, there was no blue plaque on the wall to commemorate the founding of the Exiles. But why not? Maybe itʼs just a question of time.

The guys I remember best from our first meeting were Alan Tidy and Ian Ferguson, who seemed to be running the show, and Mike Hruška, who we elected captain. Alan Tidy intimated that he had some ideas for possible fixtures. He seemed to slip quite naturally into the role of Hon. Sec., so we left the organisation to him, and he organised us very well.

Our first two games I, at least, was nowhere near match fit. For the first game we put out a scratch team - looking back on it now, it seems insane, just putting on a pair of boots and going out to play a game of rugby in the middle of summer. In retrospect I think I ought to have had a heart attack. But maybe the others were fitter than I was. Astonishingly, under the circumstances, we still managed to beat 1st. Signals Regiment, but only just.

Our game against 26th. Field Regiment R.A. was an interesting experience. Between 1955 and 1957 I had been stationed in Hohne garrison on National Service in the army, and played rugby there. It was a strange feeling, driving in again through those familiar gates, past the guard-room and my old sleeping quarters, but this time knowing I was free to leave afterwards. I felt as if someone might recognize me at any moment, call me to attention, demand to know where Iʼd been, and why I hadnʼt reported for duty.

In this particular match I was up against a Fijian centre who, I remember, had a particularly high leg-action, which made him difficult to tackle. But the match stuck in my mind for another reason, a rather peculiar incident. There was a ruck on their 25, when suddenly our forwards stood up and began to disperse to all parts of the compass, leaving an inert figure lying on the ground. You know how props put on this innocent look as they trot away from the scene of some skulduggery, their eyes fixed on a point somewhere above the distant trees, their whole body-language trying to convey the message, “It wasnʼt me, ref.” The ref ran over to the man lying on the ground. After a few minutes he had him carried gently to the touchline, and quickly called an ambulance. As we were waiting to see how badly injured he was and who had really done it, and getting ready for some aggro from the opposition, one of his mates standing nearby explained that he hadnʼt been touched - heʼd got a bout of malaria - in the middle of a rugby match! Apparently you can carry the bug inside your body for months after recovering from an earlier attack. Most of the time it lies dormant, but when it does break out you need to act quickly.

I canʼt remember the names of all the players we played with in those first few years, but I do remember the following: Alan Tidy (prop); Dave Parisi (Waterloo and Wasps, hooker); Mike Hruška was second row or lock - as far as I can remember, he came from a family which had emigrated to Australia and learnt his rugby over there; Ian Ferguson was wing-forward (flanker); Dave Gollin was scrum-half, and I generally played centre or stand-off. My winger was Manfred Mross, a student, and our full-back was John, from the U.S.A. When John Roberts (Richmond) came along I moved to stand-off half.

Of these, Manfred seemed to me to be unusual, to say the least. As we were getting changed, he pulled out a pair of metal spectacles with a thick elastic band to hold them onto his head. I liked to think that I had been brought up in an impeccable Rugby Union school, and I knew the rules. I said, “You canʼt wear those - youʼre not allowed to wear metal objects. Itʼs against the rules, the ref wonʼt allow it, youʼll get sent off!”
Manfred said, “But I have to wear these. I canʼt see the ball without them!”

In the early matches we couldnʼt always field a full side. This led to us being helped out by odd strangers who just happened to be passing the ground in the Volkspark. One of these was Dave Baigent, centre (Chairman, 1974-79), who seems to have been accidentally passing by, seen us getting changed and asked whether we needed anyone to make up a team. Luckily, weʼd learned to keep a spare shirt and one or two pairs of boots in reserve for just such an occasion.

Another was Hans Brenninkmeyer. His was a Boysʼ Own story-book debut. When he walked in and asked if he could have a game, we asked him what position he played in. Wing-forward (flanker). Well, we could use a flanker. So he quickly got changed. He played well, and in the dying minutes of the game scored a try from the back of the scrum. Hans had a German name, but sounded very English, so we asked him where heʼd learned his rugby. At public school, he said. Well, what was he doing in Germany then? He said he was a trainee manager, and the firm sent all their trainee managers through all the departments of the firm to get to know the ropes, from the bottom up (the “Ochsentour”!). Well, which firm did he work for then? C&A. Slowly we put two and two together. Yes, the ʽBrenninkmeyerʼ came from C&A - and Hans was one of the heirs to C&A Brenninkmeyer AG, sent to Hamburg to learn the trade from the bottom up. Well, Hans was elected captain for the seasons 1968/69 and 1969/70. The last time I looked him up in the internet, he was President (or Chairman?) of C&Aʼs North American operations.

I played my last game for the Exiles in 1967.

On the day of the match I think I must have been acting captain, because I remember picking myself to take the place-kicks. (There were more of them in those days than there are today). I needed to practise for a more important game which was coming up shortly afterwards (Polizei A).

It was a dismal afternoon, we played in a light drizzle. Early in the second half I was felled by a late tackle. I was kicking for position. The ball had already left my foot as I kicked for touch, but the tackle caught me just as my right foot hit the ground, with my weight and the weight of my opponent on top of it. My ankle went over and I tore a tendon. That was the end of my rugby career. There was no question of me going back on, and we didnʼt even get a penalty for the late tackle. The game was apparently too enthralling to miss, so I was parked on the ground in the rain behind a thin line of spectators, with a raincoat over my shoulders until the end of the match. Iʼll be everlastingly grateful to the two guys - whose names I canʼt now remember - who drove me all the way back to Wedel. My wife nearly fainted when she saw this figure being dragged up the steps to our flat, still in my wet and muddy kit, and in very great pain.

Sadly, I wasnʼt able to turn out for the Exiles again.

However, in July 1968 my contract with the university ran out and, as Iʼd been offered a place to do postgraduate study in Edinburgh - sadly, we had to leave. The guys gave me a great send-off in our Wedel flat - we didnʼt have club premises in those early days - with a nice speech from Pat, our Chairman, and the obligatory ʽyard of aleʼ - in this case, the beer-glass in the shape of a boot, which one had to down in one, timed by a Club official.

Over the next fifty years or so, what with a family, changing jobs from time to time, moves from Hamburg to Edinburgh, from Edinburgh to Newcastle and from Newcastle to Bielefeld, I lost contact with my mates who had stayed behind, and in that time of course new generations of Exiles came along. It was only with the advent of the internet that I began to ask myself whether there might not still be an odd Exile or two still around, and whether you might have an internet presence, and there you were!

I still have my original Exiles tie, and the pewter tankard you guys were so kind as to present me with when we said Auf Wiedersehen! at our Wedel flat.

Aktuelle Forschungsthemen

History of linguistics, in particular the English grammarians of the Middle Ages, and the first half of the twentieth century, with an emphasis on terminology, and Didactics.

Cf. also: ʽPublications_2005-ʼ

Seine Hauptforschungsinteressen gelten zur Zeit der Geschichte der Linguistik, insbesondere des englischen Mittelalters, und der ersten Hälfte des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts (und vgl. Veröffentlichungen).

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