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FRANZ ANTON SCHIEFNER (1817-1879)

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Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 323 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FRANZ ANTON SCHIEFNER (1817-1879), Russian linguist, was born at Reval, in Russia, on the 18th of July 1817: His father was a merchant who had emigrated from Bohemia. He was educated first at the Reval grammar school, matriculated at St Petersburg as a law student in 1836, and subsequently devoted himself at Berlin, from 184o to 1842, exclusively to Eastern languages. On his return to St Petersburg in 1843 he was employed in teaching the classics in the First Grammar School, and soon afterwards received a post in the Imperial Academy, where in 1852 the cultivation of the Tibetan language and literature was assigned to him as his special function. Simultaneously he held from. 186o to 1873 the professorship of classical languages in the Roman Catholic theological seminary. From 1854 till his death he was an extraordinary member of the Imperial Academy. He visited England three times for purposes of research—in 1863, 1867 and 1878. He died on the 16th of November 1879. Schiefner made his mark in literary research in three directions. First, he contributed to the Memoirs and Bulletin of the St Petersburg Academy, and brought out independently a number of valuable articles and larger publications on the language and literature of Tibet. He possessed also a remarkable acquaintance with Mongolian, and when death overtook him had just finished a revision of the New Testament in that language with which the British and Foreign Bible Society had entrusted him. Further, he was one of the greatest authorities on the philology and ethnology of the Finnic tribes. He edited and translated the great Finnic epic Kalevala; he arranged, completed and brought out in twelve volumes the literary remains of Alexander Castren, bearing on the languages of the Samoyedic tribes, the Koibal, Karagass, Tungusian, Buryat, Ostiak and Kottic tongues, and prepared several valuable papers on Finnic mythology for the Imperial Academy. In the third place, he made himself the exponent of investigations into the languages of the Caucasus, which his lucid analyses placed within reach of European philologists. Thus he gave a full analysis of the Tush language, and in quick succession, from Baron P. Uslar's investigations, comprehensive papers on the Awar, Ude, Abkhasian, Tchetchenz, Kasi-Kumuk, Hurkanian and Kiirinian languages. He had also mastered Ossetic, and brought out a number of translations from that language, several of them accompanied by the original text.
End of Article: FRANZ ANTON SCHIEFNER (1817-1879)
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