BAUDOUIN DE COURTENAY, Jan Ignacy Niecisław (Jean, in Russian Ivan Aleksandrovič Boduèn-de-Kurtenè). Radzymin near Warsaw 13.3.1845 — Warsaw 3.11.1929. Famous Polish Linguist. Son of Alexander B. de C., the family came from France in 1733. Gymnasium in Warsaw (under Leskien). Studies at Jena under Schleicher, then at Berlin and Leipzig. Ph.D. 1870 Leipzig. In 1870-75 Docent at St.Petersburg, then at the Universities of Kazan (docent 1874-75, eo. 1875-76, 1876-83 ord. for sanskrit i sravnitel’naja jazykoznanija), Dorpat (Professor of Slavic Philology, 1883-93), Cracow (of Slavic, 1893-99), and St.Petersburg (of Comparative Linguistics, 1900-14). At Cracow University he taught Sanskrit in 1894-98. Since 1918 Honorary professor of Comparative Linguistics at Warsaw University. Twice married, his daughter Cezarya (1885–1967) was Professor of Ethnology and married with the Slavist Max Vasmer (1886–1962, divorced).
In Sanskrit studies his name is very minor, but Baudouin de Courtenay is well-known as one of the most important pioneers of modern Linguistics, the leader of the so-called Kazan School. He was an early Neogrammarian and discussed the problems of phonetics (he created the concept of phoneme), linguistic change, substrate and language mixture. He made important work on comparative Slavic philology, too. In Russia he defended the rights of various ethnic minorities. An Esperantist.
Publications: Diss. “Einige Fälle der Wirkung der Analogie in der polnischen Deklination”, Beitr. z. vgl. Sprachforschung 6, 1868, 19-88.
– “Zur ‘Sonanten’-Frage”, IF25, 1909, 77-85.; much on linguistics and Slavic philology.
Sources: *His own account in Biobibl. slovar’ Kazan 1, 1904, 38-40; *A.M. Lewicki, Lex. Gramm. 1996, 74f.; *J. Mugdan, Jan BdeC (1845–1929): Leben und Werk. Munich 1984; K. Nitsch, Polski Słownik Biograficzny 1, 1935, 359-362; R. Jakobson, *Slavische Rundschau 1, 1929, 809-812 (republ. in Sebeok 1966:1, 533-537; *M. Vasmer, Idg. Jb. 16, 1932, 338-340; Wikipedia (with photo and further references).