Baudouin de Courtenay, Jan

Baudouin de Courtenay, Jan, b 13 March 1845 in Radzymin, Poland, d 3 November 1929 in Warsaw. (Photo: Jan Baudouin de Courtenay.) Outstanding Polish linguist; professor at the universities of Kazan, Tartu, Cracow, Saint Petersburg, and Warsaw; full member of the Cracow Academy of Sciences and the Shevchenko Scientific Society; and corresponding member of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Baudouin de Courtenay created and elaborated the theory of phonemics in linguistics and founded the psychological (the so-called Kazan) school of linguistics. He was a staunch defender of the free development of all languages and of national independence, including that of Ukraine. His political activities, particularly during his stay in Saint Petersburg (1900–18), where he had close ties with the Ukrainian Club, provoked repression from the Russian government. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1913 for his brochure Natsional’nyi i territorial’nyi priznak v avtonomii (The National and Territorial Indicator of Autonomy, 1913). In the 1922 presidential elections in Poland, the representatives of the national minorities, including Ukrainian delegates to the diet and senate, demonstratively proposed Baudouin de Courtenay as a candidate. His article ‘Kilka ogólników o objektywnej i subjektywnej odrębności Ukrainy’ (Several General Remarks on the Objective and Subjective Distinctiveness of Ukraine, Zapysky NTSh, vols 141–3) presents a defense of the Ukrainian language and nationality. Selected works in 6 volumes were published in Warsaw in 1983.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]




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