BENVENISTE, Émile

BENVENISTE, Émile (born Ezra B.). Aleppo, Syria 25.2. or 27.4.1902 — Paris 3.10.1976. French Iranian scholar and Linguist. Professor in Paris, naturalized as Frenchman in 1924. Son of Mathieu (Mathatias) B., of a well known Sephardim family of Turkey (originally of Spain), and Marie Malkenson, both teachers. Educated privately, in 1913 sent to France for rabbinical education. Studies at Faculté des lettres in Paris under Meillet. Agrégé (teacher’s degree) 1922, Ph.D. 1935. After some years as a teacher from 1927 Meillet’s successor at the IV section of É.P.H.É., from 1937 also at Collège de France (for Grammaire comparée). Had to inter­rupt his teaching during the war, in 1940-44 and escaped to Switzerland, then again in both offices. In 1969 he became seriously ill, had soon to retire, and nearly to give up his research. Finally retired in 1972 from Collège de France and É.P.H.É. In 1960 member of the A.I.B.L. Unmarried.

EB was famous as one of the leading Iranian scholars of his time. He began his career with studies on Sogdian (con­tinuing Gauthiot’s work) and Old Persian, later also Avestan and even Modern Iranian (especially Ossetic). A Linguist, but also interested in the cultural context and in religion. Also interested in Hittite, Greek and Latin, comparative IE, general linguistics, Armenian, and French. As a linguist he was structuralist and semiotician.

Publications: Diss. Origines de la formation des noms en indo-européen. 224 p. P. 1935, Russian transl. M. 1955; Noms d’agent et noms d’action en indo-européen. 175 p. P. 1948; Hittite et indo-européen. 141 p. P. 1962.

Essai de grammaire sogdienne. II. Morphologie, syntaxe et glossaire. 240 p. P. 1929 (Vol. I. by Gauthiot), Codices sogdiani. 13 p. 215 pl. Monum. Linguarum Asiae Majoris 3. Copenhagen 1940 (facs.); Textes sogdiens. Éd., trad. et com­mentés. 280 p. P. 1940, Vessantara Jātaka et Sūtra des Causes et Effets, éd. & trad. 137 p. P. 1946; with P. Demiéville: “Notes sur le fragment sogdien du Buddhadhyānasamādhisāgarasūtra”, JA 223, 1933, 193-248.

The Persian Religion according to the Greek Texts. Transl. 119 p. P. 1929; Les mages dans l’Ancien Iran. 31 p. P. 1938; “Le témoignage de Théodore bar Kōnya sur le zoroastrisme”, MO 26, 1932-33, 170-215.

– “Le Mémorial de Zarēr. Poème pehlevi mazdéen”, JA 220, 1932, 245-293; “Un apocalypse pehlevie: le Šāmāsp-Nāmak”, RHR 106, 1932, 237-180.

With L. Renou: Vrtra et Vrθragna, étude de mythologie indo-iranienne. 5+207 p. Cahiers de la Soc. as. 3. P. 1934.

Les infinitifs avestiques. 117 p. P. 1935; Titres et noms propres en iranien ancien. P. 1966; “Termes et noms achéménides en araméen”, JA 225, 1934, 127-193.

Études sur la langue ossète. 165 p. P. 1959, Russian transl. M. 1965; “Études sur la phonétique et l’étymologie de l’osséte”, BSL 52, 1956, 6-59.

Le vocabulaire des institutions indo-européennes. 1-2. 376+340 p. P. 1969, English tr. Indo-European Language and Society. Miami Ling. Ser. 12. 1973.

c. 300 articles and reviews in BSL, MSL, JA, RÉtArm, RHittAs, etc. Collected volumes: Problèmes de linguistique générale. 1966, English 1971, Spanish 1971, Italian 1971, Russian 1974; id. lib. tome II. 1974.

Ed. “Lettres de Ferdinand de Saussure à Antoine Meillet”, Cahiers Ferdinand de Saussure 21, 1964, 91-130.

Langues, cultures, religions. Choix d’articles. Réunis par Chloé Laplantine et Georges-Jean Pinault. 380 p. P. 2015.

Sources: C. Chaqueri, D.O.L.F. 84-86; *Ph. Gignoux, StIr 6, 1977, 129-131; G. Lazard, JA 265, 1977, 1-7 & Encyclop. Iranica 4:2, 1989, 143-145 (with further references); bibliography by Moh. Djafar Moinfar in Mélanges Em. Benveniste. 1975, ix-liii (also a photo); *C. Normand, Lex. Gramm. 1996, 94f.; family in Enc. Iudaica; *E. Benveniste aujourd’hui. Actes du Colloque international du C.N.R.S. “L’Œuvre d’Emile Benveniste, bilan et perspectives”. 1-2. 209+280 p. Tours 1983-84; *G. Redard, Emile Benveniste (1902–1976). 1981; Wikipedia (further details and references in French version, also a photo). Another photo also in S. Kahle, Henrik Samuel Nyberg. 1991.

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