BÖHTLINGK, Otto Nikolaus von

BÖHTLINGK, Otto Nikolaus von (Russian Otto Nikolaevič Betlingk). St.Petersburg 11.6.(30.5.)1815 — Leipzig 1.4.1904. Russian (German) Indologist. Born in St.Petersburg as a Dutch citizen in a family, which originally came from Lübeck, his mother was a German of Estonia. Lutheran. After school in St.Petersburg he began the study of Sanskrit (under Bollensen) and Arabic, but moved in the age of 20 to Berlin (Bopp) and soon to Bonn (Schlegel and Lassen). From 1842 Adjunkt and 1845 eo. member of the Russian Imperial Academy, 1855 ordinary member. In 1858 he moved with the permission of Russian government to Jena, and 1885 to Leipzig, where he spent the rest of his life. Took Russian citizenship rather late. Four times married: 1836 with Agnes Hisgen (1815–1871), divorced 1846 (see —> Rieu); 1846 with Pauline Gräfe (1821–1856); 1856 with Julie Gräfe (1815–1889, sister, daughters of —> Fr. v. Gräfe); 1889 with Anna Frömbter (1839–1921); two daughters and two sons with the second wife and one with the four (born six years before the marriage)..

An indefatigable scholar, for whom the Imperial Academy offered the opportunity of working without any disturbances and financed all his publications. Of his lin­guistic ability tells that the book on the Jakut language (1851), which he was obliged to write from Middendorf’s collection, is still considered as a major milestone in the history of Turcic linguistics, Nevertheless, he always remained an Indologist. His goal was to “know Sanskrit as well as Fleischer knew Arabic”. This he was also capable of achieving and, in addition, he wrote much more than Fleischer. He was eminent as textual critic, athough somewhat too prone to use his apt emendations (a sin also common to classical and Arabic scholars of his time); exact and unpoetic as translator, but never a teacher. His Pāṇini editions and his dictionaries are real monuments of Indology. Although he was aided in the PW by prominent colleagues like Roth (RV, Suśruta), Whitney (AV), Weber (ŚpBr, etc.), Stenzler (Manu), Kern (Varāhamihira, etc.), and Schiefner (Buddhist Sanskrit), he did himself everything else, according to Delbrück’s estimate nine tenths. A side issue of dictionaries was Indische Sprüche, a collection of 5419 stanzas (2nd edition 7613). Numerous articles discussed details of grammar and textual criticism. From Stache-Weiske we learn that he was rather shy, avoided great public occasions, gave no speeches and lectures, attended hardly any conferences and travelled very little (after 1868 never outside Germany). But he had many personal friends and wide correspondence and in his late years was ready to help and advise young scholars and students.

Publications: Edited & transl.: Pâṇini’s acht Bücher grammatischer Regeln. 1-2. 666+556 p. Bonn 1839-40, neue Bearbeitung, Pâṇini’s Grammatik. 859 p. Lp. 1887; edited: Vopadeva’s Mugdhabodha. 13+466 p. St.P. 1847; Brhadâraṇjako­pa­nishad. 72+100 p. St.P. 1889; Chândogya Upanishad. St.P. 1889; “Drei kritisch gesichtete und übersetzte Upanishad mit erklärenden Aufmerkungen”, Ber. Verh. Sächs. Ges. Wiss. 1890, 127-197 (Katha, Aitareya, Praçna).

Edited & transl.: Kâlidâsa’s Ring-Çakuntala. 292+117 p. Bonn 1842.

– “Ueber die Verwandlung des dentalen na in das cerebrale ṇa”, ZKM 4, 1842, 354-366; “Vorarbeiten zu einer ausführlichen Sanskrit-Grammatik, ein Ergebniss des Studiums der indischen Grammatiker”, Bull. hist.-phil. (St.Petersburg Academy) 1, 1844, 97-104, 113-139 & 235-238; “Bemerkungen zur zweiten Ausgabe von Franz Bopp’s “Kritischer Grammatik der Sanskrit-Sprache in kürzerer Fassung. Berlin 1845”, ib. 3, 1846, 113-137; “Ein erster Versuch über den Accent im Sans­krit”, Mém. Russian Acad. VI ser. 7, 1848, 1-114; “Die Declination im Sans­krit”, ib. 115-212; “Die Uṇâdi-Affixe”, ib. 213-369 (edited with notes).

Edited with Ch. Rieu: Hemak’andra’s Abhidhânacintâmaṇi, ein systematisch ange­ordnetes synonymisches Lexicon. 444 p. St.P. 1847.

Über die Sprache der Jakuten. 1-2. 54+391+184 p. St.P. 1851 (grammar and glossary); and articles on Turkic and Mongolian languages.

– “Beiträge zur Kritik des poetischen Theils in Pańk’atantra”, Bull. hist.-phil. 8 = Mél. As. 1, 1852, 279-311; “Beiträge zur Kritik des poetischen Theils im Hitopa­deça”, ib. 312-321; “Über die Sprache der Zigeuner in Russland. Nach den Grigoriew’schen Aufzeichnungen”, ib. 2, 1856, 1-35, 123-132; “Ein Paar Worte zur Frage über das Alter der Schrift in Indien”, ib. 3, 1859, 715-724; “Be­merkun­gen zu Benfey’s Uebersetzung des Pank’atantra”, ib. 4, 1863, 204-279; “Zur Kritik und Erklärung verschiedener indischer Werke”, ib. 7, 1876, 447-504, 527-589, 615-172; “Zweiter Nachtrag zu meinen Indischen Sprüchen”, ib. 8, 1881, 203-249; “Bemerkungen zu Ginakîrti’s Kampakakathânaka”, ib. 9, 1888, 75-86.

Sanskrit-Chrestomathie. 451 p. St.P. 1845, 2nd ed. 372 p. St.P. 1877, 3rd entirely rev. edition by R. Garbe. 423 p. Lp. 1909 (and many reprints).

With R. Roth et al.: Sanskrit-Wörterbuch nebst allen Nachträgen. 1-7. 1142+1100+ 1016+1214+1678+1506+1822 col. St.P. 1853-1875 (so-called “Petersburger Wörter­buch” or “PW”); rev. & abridged as Sanskrit-Wörterbuch in kürzerer Fassung. 1-7. 299+301+265+302+264+306+390 p. St.P. 1879-89 (“pw”).

Indische Sprüche, Sanskrit und Deutsch. 1-3. 334+371+410 p. St.P. 1863-65, 2nd ed. 1-3. St.P. 1870-73.

Transl.: Mrk’k’hakatika, d.i. das irdene Wägelchen, ein dem König Çûdraka zuge­schriebenes Schauspiel. 214 p. St.P. 1877; Daṇḍin’s Poetik. Kâvyâdarça. 7+138 p. Lp. 1890 (with text).

Articles on textual criticism, grammar, etc. e.g. in ZDMG, BVSAW.

Sources: Windisch 238–246; anon., Materialy dlja biografičeskago slovar’ dejstvitel’nyh členov Imp. Akad. Nauk 1, Petrograd 1915, 53-59 (with bibliogr.); *A. Ballini, SFII 6, 1904, v-xiii; B. Delbrück, Ber.Sächs.Ges.Wiss. 56, 1904, 253-258 and *IF Anz. 17, 1904-05, 131-136 (republ. in Sebeok 1966:1, 261-268); *Kern, Museum 1904, 322ff.; Kirfel, N.D.B. 2, 396f.; *S. F. Ol’denburg in S. A. Vengerov (ed.), Kritiko-biografičeskij slovar’ russkih pisatelej i učënyh 3, St.P. 1892, 216-220 & *Izv. Imp. Akad. 5:20, 1904:5, vf. & *Ž. min. Nar. Pr. 353, 1904:5:4, 41-47; bibliography by *S. F. Ol’denburg & K. G. Salemann, Mél. asiat. 10, 1892:2, 247-256 & Bull. Ac. Imp. 35 (N.S. 3), 1894, 97-106; *R. Schmitt, Lex. Gramm. 1996, 117f.; *L.v.Schroeder, (also in *Reden und Aufsätze 1913, 315ff.) Almanach AW Wien 54, 1905, 388-390; *A. Stache-Weiske: “‘Da die Herren Sanskritisten zornige Leute sind…’ Bemerkungen zum Verhältnis von Otto Böhtlingk und Max Müller aus Briefen und anderen Quellen”, H. Brückner & K. Steiner (ed.), 200 Jahre Indienforschung – Geschichte(n), Netzwerke, Diskurse. Wb. 2012, 69-94; *Vigasin 2008, 108-114; *Windisch, Idg. Jb. 3, 1915, 176–187; briefly in D.B.E. 1, 1995, 625; Wikipedia with photo (more in German version).

Two photos in Rau 24-25 (second also in Bongard-Levin & Vigasin, The Image of India. 1984 and similar in Sardesai, but Stache-Weiske 2017, 380 points out that Rau 24 is not young B., but Minaev), still another in in Pedersen 1959, 19.

Briefe zum Petersburger Wörterbuch 1852–1885. Hrsg. von Heidrun Brückner und Gabriele Zeller, bearbeitet von Agnes Stache-Weiske. 21+870 S. Helmuth von Glasenapp-Stiftung 45. Wiebaden: Harrassowitz 2007; A. Stache-Weiske, „…für die Wissenschaft, der ich von ganzer Seele lebe“ Otto Böhtlingk (1815–1904): ein Gelehrtenleben rekonstruirt und beschrieben anhand seiner Briefe. 583 p. Wiebaden 2017 (with bibliography, many photos, etc.).

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