Syniavsky, Oleksa

Syniavsky, Oleksa [Синявський, Олекса; Synjavs'kyj], b 17 October 1887 in Andriivka, Berdiansk county, Tavriia gubernia, d 24 October 1937 in Kyiv. Linguist. A graduate of Kharkiv University, he was a professor of the Ukrainian language at the Kharkiv Institute of People's Education (1920–8), head of the Dialectological Commission of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (VUAN) (1928–34) and the Department of Dialectology at the Institute of Linguistics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (1930–4), and lecturer on Ukrainian at Kyiv University and the Kyiv Pedagogical Institute (1932–7). Syniavsky played a key role in the normalization of Standard Ukrainian and was editor of the final text of the Ukrainian orthography adopted as the standard in 1927. In dialectology he supported the phonological principle and criticized the subjectivism of neogrammarians. He wrote a Ukrainian grammar for adults (5 edns, 1918); a survey of the Ukrainian language (1918); reference books on how to write (1918, 1923) and on the Ukrainian language (1922); a program for collecting materials on the dialects of Left-Bank Ukraine (1924); a Russian textbook of Ukrainian (5 edns, 1923–6); a textbook of Ukrainian for schools of social education (4 edns, 1924–8); a booklet on the main rules of Ukrainian (4 edns, 1929–31); and articles on the phonic traits of literary Ukrainian (1929), the phonetic principle in Ukrainian dialectology (1929), the history of Ukrainian orthography (1931), the language of Liubech in the Chernihiv region (1934), and the language of Hryhorii Skovoroda (1924), Ivan Kotliarevsky (1928), and Taras Shevchenko (including fundamental works based on Shevchenko’s manuscripts, 1925, 1931). The results of his research were synthesized in his authoritative Normy ukraïns'koï literaturnoï movy (The Norms of Literary Ukrainian, 1931). Syniavsky was arrested on falsified charges during the Stalinist terror in 1937 and executed.

Roman Senkus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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