Aleksey Shahmatov

Aleksey Shahmatov

Russian philologist and linguist-Slavist.
Date of Birth: 05.07.1864
Country: Estonia

  1. Biography of Aleksei Shakhmatov
  2. Contributions and Achievements

Biography of Aleksei Shakhmatov

Aleksei Shakhmatov was a Russian philologist and Slavic linguist. He was born on June 5, 1864, in Narva, which is now Estonia. Even as a gymnasium student, he showed exceptional abilities in scientific activities. In 1887, he graduated from Moscow University, where he later became a professor.

At the young age of 35, in 1899, Shakhmatov became an academician, making him the youngest in the history of Russian philology. From that time on, he worked in St. Petersburg and became a prominent organizer of science. From 1905 to 1920, he headed the Department of the Russian Language and Literature at the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences.

After the death of Y.K. Grot, Shakhmatov continued his work on the academic Dictionary of the Russian Language and led the publication of the multi-volume Encyclopedia of Slavic Philology. He also participated in the preparation of the reform of Russian orthography, which took place in 1917-1918. Shakhmatov passed away in Petrograd on August 16, 1920.

Contributions and Achievements

Shakhmatov was a student of F.F. Fortunatov, and he aimed to apply the rigorous methods developed by his mentor to the study of the history of the Russian language. His creative legacy is extensive. Shakhmatov studied the language of chronicles and the history of Russian chronicle writing, and he published Old Russian monuments. Under his guidance, the publication of the Complete Collection of Russian Chronicles was resumed. He laid the foundations for the textual analysis of Russian literary monuments and researched contemporary Russian dialects.

Shakhmatov proposed the hypothesis that the Old East Slavic language, also known as Old Russian, split in the 9th-10th centuries into South Russian, Central Russian, and North Russian dialects. He was the author of works on phonetics, accentology, and syntax of the Russian language. In his posthumously published Essay on Modern Russian Literary Language (1925), he presented his views on the relationship between syntax and morphology, emphasizing the subordinate position of the latter. He also analyzed various principles of distinguishing parts of speech in the Russian language.

Another posthumous work, his unconventional Syntax of the Russian Language (1925-1927), had a significant influence on the development of syntactic theory in Russia.