BOPP, Franz

BOPP, Franz. Mainz 14.9.1791 — Berlin 23.10.1867. German Indologist and Lin­guist. Professor in Berlin. Born in a Roman Catholic family, son of a civil servant, Andreas B. Grew up in Aschaffenburg, where he had K. Windischmann as his teacher at the local Gym­nasium, then at the short-lived (1808-14) Aschaffenburg University. Windischmann, Fr. Schlegel, and Herder aroused his interest in Asia, much in the spirit of Romanticism, but without its “Schwärmerei”. In 1812 he went to Paris, where he studied Arabic, Persian under Silvestre de Sacy, Langlès and Chézy, and soon also Sanskrit delving independently into Sanskrit manuscripts of Imperial Library. Soon he wrote his Conjugationssystem, where he stated in 1816 the principles of comparative linguistics. Financed by Bavarian State he went to London in 1817 in order to study Indian manuscripts, and met there W. von Humboldt, Colebrooke, A. Hamilton, and Wilkins. In 1819 published the Nala episode as the first useful school text in Sanskrit.

Back in Germany in 1818 he vainly sought for a professorship in Bavaria. In 1820 he studied Arabic at Göttingen. In 1821 W. v. Humboldt arranged for him an ao. chair at Berlin University (Professor für orientalische Literatur und allgemeine Sprachwissen­schaft). 1820 or 1821 honorary Ph.D. at Göttingen, 1822 member of the Prussian A.W. From 1825 until his death ord. Professor at Berlin (then succeeded by Weber), in 1864 gave up teaching because of an illness. Married 1825 Luise Matthies, children.

Bopp was the famous pioneer of comparative linguistics. Rask began before him, but Bopp included Sanskrit and his influence was much more far-reaching. While he founded the methods of comparative study, he was not as good as a philologist and was therefore severely criticized by Schlegel and Lassen. He was not really interested in Indian civilization, only in its language. He wrote the first Sanskrit grammar in German, and edited several samples of the still unpublished Mahābhārata. As early as 1820 he suggested that Sanskrit a would be derived from IE a, e, o, but the idea was forgotten for a long time. In his later works he tried to extend the IE contact too far, e.g. in Georgian and even in Malayo-Polynesian. Among his many students F. Benary, Johaentgen, A. Kuhn, Pertsch, Rosen, Siecke, Stenzler, W. Storck and Wollheim da Fonseca made their doctorate under him, among others were e.g. Arendt and A. Benary.

Publications: Ueber das Conjugationssystem der Sanskritsprache in Vergleichung mit jenem der griechischen, lateinischen, persischen und germanischen. Nebst Episoden des Ramajan und Mahabharat. 46+310 p. Frankfurt a.M. 1816; transl. of the first part “The Analytical comparison of the Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and Teutonic Languages” in Annals of Oriental Literature 1820, rev. 2nd ed. 1845, new ed. with introd. 38+68 p. Amst. Classics in Linguistics 3. 1974.

Nalus, carmen samscritum e Mahabharato. 216 p. L. 1819 (edition and Latin translation); rev. 2nd ed. Nalus Maha-bharati Episodium. 239 p. B. 1832; Nalas und Damajanti. Eine indische Dichtung aus dem Sanskrit übersetzt. 12+275 p. B. 1838.

edited and transl.: Indralokágamanam. Ardschunas Reise zu Indras Himmel nebst anderen Episoden des Mahabharata. 28+78+122 p. B. 1824; Diluvium cum tribus aliis Mahá-bhárati praestantissimis episodiis. 124 p. B. 1829 (edition), & Die Sündflut nebst drei andern der wichtigsten Episoden des Mahabharata. 28+163 p. B. 1829 (tr.).

Glossarium Sanscritum. 216 p. B. 1830; enl. & rev. ed. Glossarium Sanscritum. in quo omnes radices et vocabula usitatissima explicantur et cum vocabulis Graecis, Latinis, Germanicis, Lithuanicis, Slavicis, Celticis comparantur. 1840-47, 3rd ed. 1867; Ausführliche Lehrgebäude der Samskrita-Sprache. 15+360 p. B. 1827 (first fasc. 1824); 2nd ed. in Latin as Grammatica critica linguae sanscritae. 14+335 p. B. 1832 (first fasc. 1829); Kritische Grammatik der Sanskrita-Sprache in kürzerer Fassung. 12+380 p. B. 1834, 2nd ed. 1845, 3rd ed. 1863, 4th ed. by E. Siecke, B. 1868.

Sources: Windisch 67-73; photo in Idg. Jb. 4; *Bréal, introduction (57 pp.) to his transl. of Bopp’s Comparative Grammar, P. 1866; *K. Brugmann & W. Streitberg, “Zu F.B.’s hundertjährigem Geburtstage”, IF 1, 1892, vff.; *H. Ewald, NGGW 1867, 550f.; Gosche, Wiss. Jb zu ZDMG für 1862–67, 24-27; *Guigniaut, MAIBL 29:1, 1877, 201-224; *A. Kuhn, Unsere Zeit N.F. 6:1, 1868, 780-789; *A. Kuhn & A. Schleicher, KZ 17, 1868, 156-160 & *Beitr. z. vgl. Sprachw. 5, 1868, 479-483; *S. Lefmann, Franz Bopp, sein Leben und seine Wissenschaft. 1-3, 1891-97 (with a selection of letters); *S. Lefmann, “Ein Brief von F.B.”, ZVS 41, 1907, 205-207; *A. Leskien, A.D.B. 3, 1876, 140-149; *P. Schmitter, Lex. gramm. 1996, 120f.; *R. Sternemann, Franz Bopp und die vgl. indo-europäische Sprach­wissenschaft. Innsbr. Beitr. z. Sprachw., Vorträge und kleinere Schriften 33. I. 1984; R. Sternemann (ed.), Bopp-Symposium 1992 der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. 313 p. Heidelberg 1994; *“F.B. — Begründer der Sprachwissenschaft” (collection of articles), WZBerlin 18:2, 1969, 295-331; *W. Wüst, N.D.B. 2, 1955, 453f.


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