WRIGHT, Joseph

WRIGHT, Joseph. Idle near Bradford, Yorkshire 31.10.1855 — 27.2.1930. British Linguist. Son of Dufton Wright (d. 1866), a woollen cloth weaver and quarryman, and Sarah Ann Atkinson, a modest family. Working from childhood he started night-school when 15, concentrating on languages, and in 1876 went with his modest savings to Heidelberg University. Back in Yorkshire he worked as teacher in Bradford and continued studies at Yorkshire College of Science (future Leeds University). Back in Heidelberg from 1882 he passed Ph.D. 1885 under Osthoff. Then further studies at Leipzig. From 1888 Lecturer at Oxford, under Max Müller, 1891-1901 Deputy Professor. In 1901-25 Professor of Comparative Philology at Oxford (Corpus Christi). Fellow of British Academy 1904, hon. degrees from Durham, Aberdeen, Leeds, Dublin, and Oxford. In his research he mainly concentrated on English dialectology. In 1896 married Elizabeth Mary Lea, who then participated in his work, their both children died young. Among his students was J. R. R. Tolkien.

Publications: Diss. Qualitative and Quantitative Changes of the Indo-Germanic Vowel System in Greek. 1885.

– Translated Brugmann’s Grundriss as Elements of the comparative Grammar of the Indo-Germanic Languages. 1-5. Strassburg 1888-95.

Wrote important studies about English dialects, also wrote on other Germanic languages and on Greek.

Sources: A. Kellett, Oxford D.N.B. 2004 (online); *M.L. Wright, The Life of Joseph Wright. Oxford 1932 (by his widow); Wikipedia with photo.

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