Professor Nicola McLelland wins international Grimm Prize

Thursday, 20 August 2020

University of Nottingham modern languages specialist Professor Nicola McLelland has been awarded one of the most prestigious international prizes in her field of German studies.

The Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Prize is named after those most famous of German storytellers, who are equally well known in Germany for their ground-breaking German Dictionary. The prestigious award has been given this year to Prof. McLelland by the German Academic Exchange Service, (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst or DAAD.)

Professor Nicola McLelland

The Grimm Prize is funded by Germany’s Foreign Office and is awarded to academics working in German Studies outside Germany who have made an outstanding contribution to international work in the area. As well as the €10,000 award, Professor McLelland will receive funding for a research stay in Germany.

Nicola has been a champion of studying German and its history, and also an important promoter of the benefits to society of learning foreign languages through the media, social media, public events and engagement with secondary schools.

Her pioneering research has uncovered the historical development of German as a foreign language since 1500 in Great Britain. With her wide-ranging interests in the various sub-fields of German linguistics, Professor McLelland has become an outstanding figure within British German Studies and internationally.

Prof. Dr. Joybrato Mukherjee

DAAD President Professor Dr Joybrato Mukherjee said: “Professor McLelland’s work exemplifies the multi-faceted nature of German Studies today. Through her exciting and very different research interests she demonstrates the excellent and valuable scientific contribution of international German Studies to the promotion of German language and culture. Through her engagement, she is at the same time promoting intercultural exchange.”

The Brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. Wood engraving, published in 1879.

Reacting to the Prize, Professor McLelland said: “I am deeply honoured to receive this year’s Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Prize, named after the Grimm brothers, two German linguists who were outstandingly successful at combining exciting research with public engagement and enthusiasm for the study of languages. To be mentioned in the same breath as those towering figures is an honour I never expected when I started my career in German Studies in Australia in the 1990s.

“I am privileged to be part of an outstanding community of German Studies scholars in Great Britain and Ireland, and I am delighted that the prize has come to these islands this year. My work opening up the history of language learning and teaching in Britain and beyond has been intellectually fascinating in itself, but I’ve also discovered that it’s a brilliant way to talk about languages and cultures to a wider public, to anyone who’s ever given a thought to learning another language. Last year we hosted the UK’s first ever Museum of languages in Nottingham, and the fantastic reaction to that really showed how much enthusiasm there is for languages and how they work, if you can find the right way to talk about them. I look forward to continuing that vital work with my colleagues nationally and internationally in the years to come.”

Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the official award of the Grimm Prize will take place in summer 2021 at the International Conference of German Studies, to be held in Palermo, Italy. 

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