Holger Pedersen

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Holger Pedersen, around 1937

Holger Pedersen (born April 7, 1867 in Gelballe near Kolding , † October 25, 1953 in Hellerup near Copenhagen ) was a Danish linguist .

Indo-Europeanist and Celtologist

Pedersen received his doctorate as a linguist at the University of Copenhagen in 1897 and became professor of linguistics there in 1903. In the academic year 1926/27 he was rector of the university. He worked in the field of comparative linguistics , especially in Indo-European studies and Celtology . His Comparative Grammar of the Celtic Languages (1909–1913) occupies an important position in Celtology in the early 20th century and is still considered a standard work today.

In his 1951 work Die common Indo-European and pre -Indo-European plosives, Pedersen suggested that the aspirated plosives of Proto-Indo-European were not bh, ie, gh , but ph, th, kh . This theory was revived in 1984 in a modified form as the glottalized series / p ', t', k '/ by Tamas Gamkrelidze and WW Iwanow .

The nostratic

By comparing Indo-European with other Eurasian language families, Pedersen came up with the concept of nostratic languages , which he used for the first time in his work on Turkish phonology in 1903. In his 1931 historical book Linguistic Science in the 19th Century , he defined "Nostratisch" as follows:

As a comprehensive designation for the families of languages ​​which are related to Indo-European, we may employ the expression Nostratian languages (from Latin nostras "our countryman").

In this work he postulated the genetic relationship of Indo-European with Ural and - albeit somewhat weaker - with Alta . As even more distant relatives, he names the Eskimo languages , Semitic (and thus Hamito-Semitic as a whole) and - with reservations - also Basque .

However , Pedersen did not attempt to prove the genetic unity of the nostratic. It was not until the 1960s that the nostratic idea was revived , especially by Aharon Dolgopolsky , and filled with concrete content (see the article Nostratisch ). The Basque language was not taken into account; rather, it is now considered a member of the Dene-Caucasian macro family .


  • 1903 Turkish phonetic laws. In: Journal of the German Oriental Society . Volume 57.
  • 1909–1913 Comparative grammar of the Celtic languages. 2 volumes. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen.
  • 1908 The Indo-European-Semitic hypothesis and the Indo-European phonology. In: Indo-European Research . Volume 22.
  • 1931 Linguistic Science in the Nineteenth Century: Methods and Results. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass).
  • 1933 On the question of the original relationship between Indo-European and Finno-Ugric. In: Mémoires de la Société Finno-Ougrienne . Volume 67.
  • 1951 The common Indo-European and pre-Indo-European plosives. Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selkab, Historis-filologiske Meddelser 32.5, Copenhagen.

See also


  • Heinrich Koppelmann: The Eurasian language family. Carl Winters University Bookstore, Heidelberg 1933.
  • Allan R. Bomhard and John C. Kerns: The Nostratic Macrofamily. A Study in Distant Linguistic Relationship . Mouton De Gruyter, Berlin - New York 1994.
  • Aharon Dolgopolsky: The Nostratic Macrofamily and Linguistic Palaeontology. The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Oxford 1998.
  • Rüdiger Schmitt: Holger Pedersen . In: Dietz Otto Edzard, Michael P. Streck (eds.): Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Aräologie Vol. 10, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 978-3-11-018535-5 , pp. 381–382 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ List of rectors on the University of Copenhagen website