CHAVÉE, Honoré-Joseph

CHAVÉE, Honoré-Joseph. Namur 3.6.1815 — Paris 15.7.1877. Belgian Linguist in Paris, also interested in Sanskrit and IE. Originally a Catholic priest, from 1844 living in France. Born in a poor family in Namur, lost early his father. Studied theology at seminaries of Floreffe and Namur, was ordained priest in 1838 and worked as priest in Belgium in 1838-44. Learned several European and Oriental languages, in Louvain became interested in Sanskrit (probably under Nève). Lectured on comparative grammar at École militaire in Bruxelles before moving to France in 1845. Unable to reconcile the Bible with science he gave up the priestly office in 1848 and took freemasonry instead. In Paris he was Burnouf’s student and taught linguistics and Sanskrit at Collège Stanislas, soon (in 1862) went to Pisa and became Professor at Scuola normale superiore, but was unhappy there and returned to Paris in 1867. In 1867 founder of the Revue de linguistique et philologie comparée, with Hovelacque. In 1871 married an American woman, Harriett Harrison, in London. In 1871-73 taught German for officers at École superieure de guerre. In 1873 moved to Lyon, but was persecuted by priests and eventually was prohibited from lecturing. Also interested in Semitic languages. Among his students were Girard de Rialle and Hovelacque.

Publications: Essai d’étymologie philosophique. 2+262 p. Brussels 1843; Le livre des humanistes ou physiologie comparée des langues grècque et latine. 1-2. P. 1845; Lexiologie indo-européenne. 420 p. P. 1849; Les langues et les races. 63 p. 1862; Idéologie lexiologique des langues indo-européennes. 15+66 p. P. 1878; and other books; also wrote on religion.

Articles in the RL, e.g. “La science positive des langues”, RL 1:1-2, 1867, 1-35; “Les inscriptions cunéiformes”, RL 1:1-2, 1867, 106-118; “Idéologie positive de la dérivation”, RL 1:1-2, 1867, 138-165; 1:3-4, 1868, 253-281; 2:1, 1868, 55-77.

Sources: *S. Aroux, Lex. Gramm. 1996, 182f.; P. Larousse, Grande Dictionnaire Universel. 3 (s.a., in the 1870s) & Suppl. 1; *M. Leroy, “Une linguiste belge oublié: H.C. (1815–1877)”, Acad. Roy. Belg. Bull. Cl. Lett. Sc. Mor. Pol. 5,:70, 1984, 218-230; *M. Leroy, “H.C. et l’édification de la grammaire comparée”, Tra linguistica storica e linguistica generale. Scritti in onore di Tristano Bolelli. Pisa 1985, 209-225 & *B.N.B. 44, 1985, 197-206; P. Servais, D.O.L.F. 207; *J. Vinson, Revue ling. 29, 1896, 1-13; La Grande Encyclopédie 10; briefly in Dict. biogr. des sciences, des lettres et des arts en Belgigue. 1, 1935; French Wikipédia with photo (also briefly in English).

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