In memoriam Hendrik (Henk) Schultink

Hendrik (Henk) Schultink (b. Amsterdam 1924) was one of the leading figures in Dutch linguistics in the final few decades of the previous century. He is remembered with affection and respect first and foremost for his ability to stimulate PhD students, but also for bringing together groups of academics for a common goal, and for recognizing academic quality and promising developments in the field.

Henk studied Dutch Linguistics and Literature in Leyden with G.G. Kloeke, from 1945 till 1951, then was a ‘hollands lektor’ at the University of Copenhagen till 1956, where he was introduced to the ‘formalistic’ approach to language by Hjelmslev. He received his PhD in 1962 in Leyden, with a thesis supervised by E.M. Uhlenbeck, entitled De Morfologische Valentie van het Ongelede Adjectief in Modern Nederlands, in which he investigated the systematic relationship between form and meaning in the Dutch lexicon, with the elusive concept of ‘productivity’ as the focus point. In his subsequent position as professor of General Linguistics at the University of Utrecht he not only directed a growing number of young and talented academic staff, but also played a crucial role in the introduction and acceptance in the Netherlands of Noam Chomsky’s revolutionary ‘transformational generative grammar’, being attracted to it by its rigour and the central role of the speaker’s creativity.

As the supervisor of PhD students who were later appointed as professors elsewhere, Schultink developed an extensive national network. Specialising in formal phonology and morphology, he introduced many students to the ‘60s en ‘70s core generative work of Morris Halle, Liberman and Prince and Aronoff.

In organisation and administration, Henk was involved in the establishment of the Algemene Vereniging voor Taalwetenschappen as early as 1964, and from 1975 till 1982 was a member of the Board of Governors of the Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie in Leyden. In times of continual cutbacks at Dutch universities, he played a central role, in 1986-1987, in the introduction of the national AIO-system for young, talented PhD researchers, and in founding LOT, the Landelijke Onderzoeksschool Taalkunde. This ‘school’ soon acquired an international reputation as a result of the policy of systematically inviting well-known linguists from abroad as teachers for one of the biannual summer or winter schools. The Schultink lecture, held at every LOT summer and winter school is named after him.

Henk resigned from his regular post at the Utrecht Faculty of Letters in 1986. During the last part of his university career, and in later years, he specialised in contributions – sometimes personally coloured – in the field of the historiography of Dutch linguistics. He died in Bilthoven on 7 January 2017.