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Russian linguists

  Tags: Linguistics | Russian
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Chung
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 Message 1 of 5
22 April 2012 at 9:37am | IP Logged 
Forgive me if this post isn't about learning Russian but I figured that this would get a better response from the forum's Russians (especially those with inclinations to linguistics: vonPeterhof? Serpent? Марк?) than sticking it somewhere else.

I just added an addendum to the Finno-Ugric profile with links to learning material for lesser-known Uralic languages which have been used in the former USSR.

Apart from the rather predictable result where most of the courses available in these languages use Russian as the intermediary language, one aspect that struck was the degree to which scholars with seemingly no connection to the Uralic languages or Russia were prominent. For example, Michael Katzschmann of Germany (or Austria?) seems to have established himself as one of the experts of Nganasan which is spoken in far northwestern Siberia. Another example is Timothy Riese of the USA and working in Austria who is a leading scholar of Mari which has been spoken deep in central Russia for several centuries. One of Riese's colleagues, Jeremy Bradley also catches my attention by being one of the co-authors of the new textbook on Mari despite being of Austrian birth but American nationality.

A couple more examples of "Western" scholars respected/known in academia for their focus on Finno-Ugric languages but seemingly lacking connection to the relevant speech communities include Lyle Campbell (American) and Daniel Abondolo (American or British?)

Given the degree to which a few of these languages deep in Russian territory are basically the preserve of linguists not hailing from Russia or even of any Uralic speech community, are there Russian scholars who have established themselves as well-known authorities on Celtic or indigenous languages of North America?

(While not a perfect example, I know of Sergei Starostin who made a widely-respected reconstruction of Old Chinese and focused on a few language families in addition to running into some controversy with peers skeptical of long-range comparative linguistics).
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Марк
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 Message 2 of 5
22 April 2012 at 9:54am | IP Logged 
Я знаю, что майянскую письменность расшифровал Кнорозов.
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espejismo
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 Message 3 of 5
22 April 2012 at 10:08am | IP Logged 
Марк wrote:
Я знаю, что майянскую письменность расшифровал Кнорозов.


Tatiana Proskouriakoff also made a significant contribution.
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viedums
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 Message 4 of 5
22 April 2012 at 5:11pm | IP Logged 
What about Alexandra Aikhenvald? She's done a lot of cutting-edge typological work in tandem with Robert Dixon, along with fieldwork in the Amazon, New Guinea etc. But apparently that has been mostly after she left Russia.

Not sure how "widely respected" Starostin was among students of Old Chinese. The leading names there are William Baxter, Laurent Sagart and a few others. I read a paper he wrote on the Bai language of Yunnan which was pretty much straight glottochronology - not very impressive. Russian scholars did a lot of the work on ancient Tangut/Xixia and its fascinating script, because most of the excavated materials on this language were taken to Russia.

There are some good Russian Tibetologists, but I'm not sure how many are linguists.





Edited by viedums on 22 April 2012 at 5:12pm

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Chung
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 Message 5 of 5
22 April 2012 at 6:19pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for the above, folks.

I just stumbled on this article about the Soviet/Russian contribution to Celtic Studies. Unfortunately, I'm not highly familiar with the field to have come up with an independent conclusion about their importance compared to other linguists who've made their mark in Celtic languages. Nevertheless, it was still an interesting piece for me.


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