Franc Miklošič

20 Nov 1813
7 Mar 1891
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Fran Miklošič (also known in German as Franz Xaver Ritter von Miklosich) (20 November 1813 – 7 March 1891) was a Slovene philologist.

Miklošič was born in the small village of Radomerščak near the Lower Styrian town of Ljutomer, then part of the Austrian Empire. He graduated from the University of Graz with a doctor of philosophy degree.

He was professor of philosophy at the University of Graz. In 1838, he went to the University of Vienna, where he received the degree of doctor of law. During his studies, he became influenced by the works of the Slovenian philologist and linguist Jernej Kopitar. He abandoned law, devoting most of his later life to the study of Slavic languages.

In 1844, he obtained a post at the Imperial Library of Vienna, where he remained to 1862. In 1844, he published a review of Franz Bopp’s book Comparative Grammar, which attracted attention from the Viennese academic circles. This publication then launched a long series of works, in which Miklošič showed an immense erudition.

His works led to a revolutionary change in the study of Slavic languages.

In 1849 Miklošič was appointed to the newly created chair of Slavic philology at the University of Vienna, and he occupied it until 1886. He became a member of the Academy of Vienna, which appointed him secretary of its historical and philosophical section, a member of the council of public instruction and of the upper house, and correspondent of the French Academy of Inscription.

His numerous writings deal not only with the Slavic languages, but also with Romanian, Aromanian, Albanian, Greek, and Romani.

From 1872-1880, Miklošič published his original survey of Romani dialects, Über die Mundarten und Wanderungen der Zigeuner Europas. This work included a discussion of their origins, migration routes, an historical-comparative grammar, and a lexicon.

He identified a substantial Greek element that was shared by the Romani dialects, and thus named a “Greek-speaking area” as the “European homeland of the Gypsies”.

In the Spring of Nations of 1848, Miklošič, who was 35 at the time, actively engaged in the Slovene national movement. He was the chairman of the political association, called Slovenija (Slovenia) organized by Slovene students that studied in Graz and Vienna.

Together with Matija Majar and Lovro Toman, he was among the authors who elaborated the political demand for a United Slovenia. After the failure of the revolutionary requests, he again turned to an exclusively academic activity.

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