From 1978 to 2004 Heine held the chair for African Studies at the University of Cologne, Germany. His main focal points in research and teaching are African linguistics, language sociology, grammaticalization theory and language contact. The grammaticalisation theory, which deals with the changes in grammar, and to which he contributed 7 books and numerous articles, is his main focal point.
Early years and education
In 1944 his parents fled from East Prussia to Austria and later took up residence in Bavaria, before settling in Leverkusen in 1948. From 1949 to 1959 Heine attended the Landrat-Lucas-Gymnasium in Opladen. Afterwards, he studied at the Universities of Cologne (Köln) and Hamburg. In 1967 he was awarded a PhD in Cologne. In 1972 he received his postdoctoral lecture qualification for African studies.
From 1968 to 1969 he was an assistant at the Department for African Studies of the Cologne University, from 1969 to 1972 he was a lecturer and from 1975 to 1978 visiting professor at the University of Nairobi. In 1978 he took over the chair of African Studies at the University of Cologne.
For his scientific work he has carried out 25 field research trips to Ghana, Togo, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Namibia as well as lecturing trips to Australia, Austria, Brasil, England, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tanzania and United States of America.
Guest professorships brought him to La Trobe University, Melbourne in 1994/1995 and from 1999 to 2000 to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, USA, in 2002 to the Dartmouth College, USA, in 2005 to the University of Graz and from 2005 to 2006 to the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Wassenaar, the Netherlands, in 2006 to the University of Hamburg, in 2007 to the Ecole des Hautes Etudes (Centre de Recherches Linguistiques sur l'Asie Orientale "CRLAO"), Paris, in 2007 to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, 2008 through 2009 to the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Japan, and in 2009 to the Chonnam National University, Korea.
So far, Heine has been invited to speak at 33 international conferences. His life's work comprises 33 books and about 120 periodical articles in the special fields of linguistics, socio-linguistics, historical linguistics and grammaticalisation theory. He is co-editor and/or member of the advisory boards of 17 magazines or series of books.
His awards include a membership with the Executive Council, International African Institute, London. In 1986 he became Hans Wolff Memorial Lecturer at the Indiana University, USA, in 1990 Raymond Dart Memorial Lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1990 he received the Kenya Kiswahili Association Award in Nairobi, in 1994 he was Fellow of the Australian Research Council, in 1995 he received an award from the National Kiswahili Council of the Republic of Tanzania. In 1995 he became August Klingenheben Memorial Lecturer at the University of Leipzig and in 1996 a Fellow of the British Academy. From 1997 to 2000 he was president of the Committee for World Congresses of African Linguistics and in 1999 he became a full member of the North Rhine-Westphalia Academy of Sciences. In 2009 he received from the Evolutionary Linguistics Association, Brussels, Belgium the Lifetime Achievement Award.
- Grammaticalization: A conceptual framework. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991 (Co-authored by Ulrike Claudi and Friederike Hünnemeyer).
- Approaches to grammaticalization. Two volumes. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1991 (Co-edited with Elizabeth C. Traugott).
- Auxiliaries: Cognitive forces and grammaticalization. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.
- The Mukogodo Maasai: An ethno-botanical survey. Cologne: Köppe, 1994 (Co-authored by Matthias Brenzinger and Ingo Heine).
- Swahili Plants. Cologne: Köppe Verlag, 1995. (Co-authored by Karsten Legère).
- Cognitive foundations of grammar. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
- Possession: Cognitive sources, forces, and grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
- Ik dictionary. (Nilo-Saharan, 15.) Köln: Rüdiger Köppe, 1999.
- African languages: An introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000 (Co-edited by Derek Nurse).
- World lexicon of grammaticalization. Cambridge University Press, 2002 (Co-authored by Tania Kuteva).
- Language contact and grammatical change. Cambridge University Press, 2005 (Co-authored by Tania Kuteva).
- The changing languages of Europe. Oxford University Press, 2006 (co-authored by Tania Kuteva).
- The genesis of grammar: a reconstruction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007 (Co-authored by Tania Kuteva).
- A linguistic geography of Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008 (Co-edited by Derek Nurse).
- The Oxford handbook of linguistic analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010 (Co-edited by Heiko Narrog).