MÜLLER, Friedrich

MÜLLER, Friedrich. Jemnick (Jemníky), Kr. Butzlau, Bohemia (Czech) 6.3.1834 — Vienna 25.5.1898. Austrian Indo-Iranian Scholar and Linguist. Professor in Vienna. Born in a poor family in Bohemia, where his father, Friedrich M., was the chemist of a small sulphuric acid factory, grew up in Rotz, Niederösterreich. His mother was Ursula Köcina, brother Alois M. (1835–1901) a Judaist. In 1845 he came to Vienna and passed gymnasium there. From 1853 studies at Vienna University. First concentrated on classical philology, preparing for a career of teacher, but soon also started Sanskrit (under Boller). He had a rare talent for learning languages and soon absorbed the most important Iranian and Semitic languages, Armenian, and several others. In the age of 24 he wrote a study on verbs which brought a doctorate at Tübingen. Until this he had earned his living by private teaching and reading proofs in Asian languages for the government, but now he obtained a job in University library. From 1860 PD für allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft und orientalische Sprachen at Vienna. From 1861 employed in Imperial Hofbibliothek, studying its Oriental manuscripts, soon also entrusted with the linguistic material of the Novara Expedition. From 1866 wirklicher eo. Professor and from 1869 ord. für Sanskrit und vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft at Vienna University (succeeding Boller). In 1882 left Indology to Bühler, continued with comparative linguistics. Married in 1866 Emilie Kurz.

Müller was called “ein zweiter Mezzofanti” and claimed to be able to speak any language after a few days’ exercise. He early established relations with missionaries and travellers who sent him material from all over the world. In his massive Grundriss he presented the foundations of linguistic classification and ended the chaos that had existed before. In this work he discussed more than 150, including many African and Amerindian, languages and won great fame for himself. His main interest, however, was always the Iranian group of languages. He stubbornly defended the supposed Iranian character of Armenian against Hübschmann. Occasionally he tackled even NIA, including Sinhalese and Romani. In his later works his viewpoint tends to be rather old-fashioned and he entirely rejected the neogrammarian methods. He was a noted closet ethnologist, founder of the so-called linguistic ethnography, but never travelled himself. Among his students were M. Bittner, J. Hanusz, J. Kirste and M. A. Stein.

Publications: “Die Verbalausdruck im ârisch-semitischen Sprachenkreis”, SWA 25, 1858, 379-415.

Reise der Oesterreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde in den Jahren 1857, 1858, 1859… Linguistischer Teil. 8+357 p. Vienna 1867 (Abth. II. Indische Sprachen, 71-238).

Allgemeine Ethnographie. 1873, 2nd ed. 1879 (handbook).

– “Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Rom-Sprache. I–II. Texte”, SWA 61, 1869, 149-206 & 70, 1872, 85-100.

– Allgemeine Ethnographie. 8+550 p. Vienna 1873, 2nd ed. 1879 (handbook).

Grundriss der Sprachwissenschaft. 1-3, each Teil with 2 Abteilungs and one Suppl. 1876-88.

Numerous linguistic (especially etymological) articles in the WZKM and SWA on Sanskrit (brief notes in WZKM 7-9, 1893-95), Armenian, and especially Iranian languages (Old Persian, Avesta, Pahlavi, New Persian, Ossetic, Pashto, general Iranistics), e.g.: “Zendstudien”, SWA 40, 1862, 635-644 & 43, 1863, 3-10 & 70, 1872, 71-74 & 86, 1877, 279-292; “Bemerkungen zum Pahlavi-Pazand Glossary von Hoshangji–Haug”, WZKM 6, 1892 & 7, 1893; “Beiträge zur Lautlehre der neupersischen Sprache”, SWA 39, 1862, 389-413 & 43, 1863, 290-304; “Conjugation des neupersischen Verbums”, SWA 44, 1863, 220-252; “Beiträge zur Kenntniss der neupersischen Dialekte”, SWA 45, 1864, 267-292 & 46, 1864, 450-480 & 48, 1864, 227-245 (including Kurdish); “Über die Sprache der Avghânen (Paχto)”, SWA 40, 1862, 3-17 & 42, 1863, 3-24; “Beiträge zur Lautlehre der Armenischen Sprache”, SWA 38, 1861; 41, 1863 & 42, 1863; “Armeniaca”, SWA 48, 1864; 64, 1870; 66, 1870; 78, 1874; 88, 1877; 122, 1890; “Etymologische Miszellen”, WZKM 1-12, 18??-98.

Sources: Bihl 25-30; M. Bittner, A.D.B. 52, 1906, 500-503; *R.N.C[ust], JRAS 1899, 473-475; *J. Karabacek, Alm. d. A. W. Wien 49, 1899, 305-310; M. Mayrhofer, Ö.B.L. 6, 1975, 414f.; R. Schmitt, N.D.B. 18, 1997, 378f.; not in Lex. gramm. 1996! Wikipedia with picture.

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