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Nikolai Marr

 

Nikolai Marr


Nicholas Yakovlevich Marr (Russian: Никола́й Я́ковлевич Марр, Nikolay Yakovlevich Marr; Georgian: ნიკოლოზ იაკობის ძე მარი, Nikoloz Iak'obis dze Mari; 6 January 1865 [O.S. 25 December], Kutaisi – 20 December 1934, Leningrad) was a Georgia-born historian and linguist who gained a reputation as a scholar of the Caucasus during the 1910s before embarking on his controversial "Japhetic theory" on the origin of language (from 1924) and related speculative linguistic hypotheses.

Marr's hypotheses was used as a rationale in the campaign during the 1920-30s in the Soviet Union of introduction of Latin alphabets for smaller ethnicities of the country. In 1950, the "Japhetic theory" fell from official favour, with Joseph Stalin denouncing it as anti-Marxist.

Biography

Marr was born in Kutaisi, Georgia (then part of the Russian Empire), in the family of the Scot James Marr (aged more than 80) who founded the botanical garden of the city and a young Georgian woman (Agrafina Magularia). His parents spoke different languages, and neither of them understood Russian. Having graduated from the St Petersburg University, he taught there since 1891, becoming dean of the Oriental faculty in 1911 and member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1912. Between 1904 and 1917 he undertook yearly excavations at the ancient Armenian capital of Ani.[1]

Japhetic theory

Main article: Japhetic theory

Marr earned a reputation of the maverick genius with his Japhetic theory, postulating the common origin of Caucasian, Semitic-Hamitic, and Basque languages. In 1924, he went even further and proclaimed that all the languages of the world descend from a single proto-language which had consisted of four "diffused exclamations": sal, ber, yon, rosh. Although the languages undergo certain stages of development, his method of linguistic paleontology claims to make it possible to discern elements of primordial exclamations in any given language.

Bibliography

Selected publications:

References

Further reading

  • Nicholas Yacolevich Marr, Ani (with forewords by Jean-Pierre Kibarian and Parouyr Mouradi), Anagramme Ed.(Paris), 2001 (reprint)

External links

  • Marxism and Problems of Linguistics, by Joseph Stalin
  • Nikoli Marr and his excavations at Ani
  • Nikolai Marr's Writings 5 Vols, Djvu

inal from the University of Michigan Digitized 3 Oct 2006 Length

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