on July 12, 1937 in Berlin, son of Josef Görlach, agricultural
expert, and his
wife Elisabeth, née Volk. My father was killed in action in
September 1939, my
mother died in July 1958. After our evacuation to Friedland/Bohemia in
1943, I was there put to school; after moving to Bad Harzburg in
I completed there my primary and secondary schooling (Abitur 1957). |
From summer 1957 I studied English language and literature, Latin, Indo-European, philosophy and pedagogics at the Free University Berlin, interrupted by two terms in Durham University (1959-60). In December 1961 I was taken by the East German secret police and sentenced four years imprisonment in March 1962. A self-published account of this episode is available for download here.
After my release in August 1964 I finished my studies (Staatsexamen November 1966). In may 1967 I took up an assistantship in the English Department, University of Heidelberg (Ph.D. in July 1970, with a thesis on the South English Legendary). I left for a chair of English Linguistics and Medieval Studies at the Universtiy of Köln in April 1984, which I held for more than 18 years until my retirement in July 2002.
From July 1971 I have been married to Mechthild, née Pohlmann. Our two boys Tobias and Benjamin were born in 1975 and 1977. In September 2003 we moved back to Heidelberg.
My teaching and research (more than 30 books, 120 articles and 750 reviews; founder-editor of two monograph series and an international journal) has concentrated on medieval studies, the history of the English language, Scots, varieties of English/English as a world language, lexicography and translation studies. From 1980 I have intensively cultivated contacts with colleagues in other universities, in correspondence, as and editor, in conferences and giving lectures in more than 50 universities (some sponsored by DAAD / DFG), including longer stays (fellowships, guest professorships) at Canberra, Cardiff, Cracow, Dresden, Kutaisi/Tbilisi, Malaga, Moscow, Rostock, Sevilla, Sofia, Tartu, Vercelli and Zurich.