TURNER, Ralph Lilley

TURNER, Ralph Lilley. Charlton, London (or Cambridge?) 5.10.1888 — Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire 22.4.1983. Sir (1950). British Indologist. Professor in London. Son of George S. Turner and Bertha Lilley. Learned Sanskrit at Perse School in Cambridge from —> W. H. D. Rouse, who was its Headmaster. Studied classical and Oriental languages at Cambridge. In 1912 Fellow of Christ’s College. In 1913 joined Indian Educational Service and became Lecturer in Sanskrit at Queen’s College in Benares. In 1915-19 military servicein Gurkha Riflesin India and Palestine. In 1920-22 Professor of Indian Linguistics at Benares Hindu University. Wilson Philological Lecturer in Bombay in 1914 and 1922 (cancelled). From 1922 the first full-time Professor of Sanskrit at S.O.A.S. (London University), from 1937 its Director (succeeding Ross). Retired as emeritus in 1954, continued as Director to 1957. Hon. D.Litt. 1951 Benares Hindu University, 1958 Ceylon, 1967 London, 1972 Santiniketan, 1977 Kathmandu. President of R.A.S. in 1952-55. In 1920 married —> Dorothy Rivers T. (née Goulty), three daughters and one son. Died peacefully in the home he had bought in 1922.

Turner was a great specialist of comparative NIA studies. His Nepali dictionary was the first adequate etymological dictionary of a NIA language and his comparative dictionary remains an unsurpassed handbook. An additional interest was the Romani language. Among his students were S. M. Katre, Babu Ram Saksena and Siddheswar Varma.

Publications: “Against the stress accent in Latin”, Cl. Review 26, 1912, 147-153.

– “The Indo-Germanic accent in Marāṭhī”, JRAS 1916, 203-351; “Gujarātī phonology”, JRAS 1921, 329-365 & 505-544; “The position of Romani in Indo-Aryan”, JGLS 3:5, 1926, 145-189, rev. sep. ed. L. 1927.

– “The Infinitive in Nepālī”, Philologica 1, 1921, 101-111; “Specimens of Nepālī”, IA 50, 1921, 84-92; “Further Specimens of Nepālī”, IA 51, 1922, 41-49 & 61-66; “Remarks on the Languages of Nepal”, Geogr.J. 62, 1923, 170-173.

– “Cerebralization in Sindhi”, JRAS 1924, 555-584; “The Sindhi recursives or voiced stops preceded by glottal closure”, BSOS 3:2, 1924, 301-315.

A comparative and etymological dictionary of the Nepali Language. 24+935 p. L. 1931.

Edited: The Gavīmaṭh and Pālkīguṇḍu inscriptions of Aśoka. Hyderabad Arch. Ser. 10. 1932; numerous brief articles on Old, Middle and New IA in JRAS, BSOAS, etc., and on Romani in JGLS.

Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan Languages: Dictionary. 866 p.; Indexes. Compiled by D. R. Turner. 366 p. L. 1969; Phonetic Analysis. Together with D. R. Turner. 236 p. L. 1971; Addenda and corrigenda. Ed. by J. C. Wright. 179 p. L. 1985.

Collected Papers, 1912–1973. 16+435 p. L. 1975.

Sources: *N. Balbir, Lex. Gramm. 1996, 938f.; *J. Burton-Page, JRAS 1984, 257-259; *S.M. Katre, IL 47, 1986; M. A. Mehendale, ABORI 66, 1985, 359-361; R.H. Robins, Proc. Br. Acad. 90, 1995, 543-553 with photo; *R.H. Robins et al. in C.E. Bosworth (ed.), A Century of British Orientalists 1902–2002. Oxford 2001, 220-234; *J.C. Wright & C.D. Cowan, BSOAS 47, 1984, 540-548; Who’s Who 1983; bibliography by D. M. Johnson in BSOAS 20, 1957, xiii-xvi (Turner Vol., with photo); https://blogs.soas.ac.uk/archives/2015/08/04/soas-history-ralph-lilley-turner/ with photo; Wikipedia.

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