international research prize Humboldt Professorship

Press release No. 61/2019
6 June 2019

Linguist Francisco Moreno-Fernández researches in Heidelberg

The Spanish linguist Prof. Dr Francisco Moreno-Fernández is receiving a Humboldt Professorship to research and teach at Heidelberg University. The professorship, which is endowed with up to five million euros, is awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and financed by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research. Leading, internationally recognised academics from abroad are given the award to pursue long-term and ground-breaking research at German universities. Prof. Moreno-Fernández was nominated by Heidelberg University for Germany's most highly endowed international research prize and will direct the new interdisciplinary Heidelberg Center for Ibero-American Studies (HCIAS) at Ruperto Carola.

Porträt Francisco Moreno-Fernández

Francisco Moreno-Fernández (b. 1960) is one of the world's leading experts on the analysis of the relationships between language and society. His pioneering role in an area of linguistics that deals with social realities and dynamics, along with his competence in implementing innovative research in institutional structures, renders the transfer of knowledge possible both inside and outside academia. At Heidelberg University, Prof. Moreno-Fernández will unite, at both scholarly and organisational level, the existing and new competences on Ibero-America in a central research institution. The Humboldt Professorship aims to systematically expand, from an interdisciplinary standpoint, this expertise with a view towards the three major areas of academic activity, namely research, teaching, and regional and trans-regional knowledge transfer.

In 1996 at the age of 36, Francisco Moreno-Fernández joined the University of Alcalá in Madrid (Spain) as a full professor. Over the course of his academic career, he has published over 200 scholarly works of international renown, including numerous standard references. In his works, Prof. Moreno-Fernández explores, among other things, the social history of Spanish, Spanish as a foreign language, and from a perspective of linguistic sociology, the social conditions, dynamics, and causes that underlie certain linguistic manifestations. Additional areas of research include the demography and geography of language, migration linguistics, and the fundamental problems of sociolinguistic variation. Currently Francisco Moreno-Fernández is coordinating, among others, an international research project that is compiling a representative corpus of spoken language in the Spanish-speaking world in all its geographic and social diversity. More than 100 academics from 40 universities in 16 countries in Ibero-America are collaborating on the project. 

With Prof. Moreno-Fernández, a singular and highly visible researcher, who is recognised throughout Ibero-America, will be researching in Heidelberg. He has held visiting professorships in Brazil, Chile, and Colombia, among others. In addition to his numerous other distinctions, he was inducted into the national academies for the Spanish language in Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Spain, and North America. Most notably, Francisco Moreno-Fernández has made valuable contributions to research of the Spanish language in the context of globalisation and linguistic diversity. He founded and directed Harvard University's research unit on the Spanish Language in the United States, which set the standards for knowledge transfer in his area of research.

Leading, internationally recognised academics from abroad can be nominated for the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship. The international award aims to support their work as a sustained contribution to the international competitiveness of Germany as a research location. The prize monies are designated to finance the first five years. The award ceremony for the total of three prizes for 2020 will take place in May of next year.