All Scholars

COLLITZ, Hermann

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  • Date of Birth: February 04, 1855
  • Born City: Bleckede, Hanover
  • Born State/Country: Germany
  • Date of Death: May 13, 1935
  • Death City: Baltimore
  • Death State/Country: MD
  • Married: Klara Hechtenberg, 1904.
  • Education:

    Johanneum, Lüneburg, 1875; study at Göttingen, 1875-8; Berlin, 1878-9; Ph.D. Göttingen, 1879; Habilitation, Halle, 1885.

  • Dissertation:

    "Die Entstehung der indoiranischen Palatalreihe" (Ph.D., Göttingen, 1878; published BB 3.177-234; pp.177-201 comprise the dissertation); "Die Flexion der Nomina mit dreifacher Stammabstufung im Altindischen und im Griechischen--Die Passus des Singular" (Habilitation, Halle, 1885; publ. BB 10 (1885) 1-71),

  • Professional Experience:

    Trainee, University Library, Halle, 1883-4; res. asst., 1884-6; private docent in Sanskrit & comparative philology, 1885-6; asso. prof. German, Bryn Mawr, 1886-8; prof. German & comparative philology,1888-1907; prof. German & comparative philology, Johns Hopkins, 1907-27; L.H.D., U. of Chicago, 1916; president, Modern Language Association of America; co-editor, Modern Language Notes 1902-13; co-operating editor, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 1909-29; ed. Hesperia Monograph Series, 1912-29; cooperating ediitor, AJP, 1920-35; first president, Linguistic Society of America, 1924

  • Publications:

    (Selected)

    “Über die Annahme mehrer grundsprachlicher a-Laute,” BB 2 (1878) 291-305; “Polnische Glossen aus dem 15-16 Jahrhundert,” AfslavPh 4 (1879) 86-97; “Etymologien. 1 Gr. Τέφρα, Lat. Favillafebris. 2. Gr. ῥίγος, Lat. Frigus=*srîgos; BB 3 (1879) 321-3; “Skr. car-, cirá-m, Gr. Τελέθω, πάλαι,” BB 5 (1879) 101-2; “Über eine besondere Art vedischer Composita,” Abhandlungen des 5. Internalionalen Orientalistenkongresses zu Berlin im September 1881 2,2 (1882) 287-98; “Der germanische Ablaut in neinem Verhältnis zum indogermanischen Vocalismus (1 Teil),” ZfdPh 15 (1882) 1-10; “Zur Einteilung der niederdeutschen Mundarten,” Ndd.Korr.-bl 7(1882) 81-2; Sammlung der griechischen Dialektinschriften (ed.) 4 vols. (Göttingen, 1883-1915); Die Verwandtschaftsverhältnisse der griechischen Dialekte (Göttingen, 1885); “Die neuste Sprachforschung und die Erklärung des indogermanischen Ablautes,” BB 11 (1886) 203-42; publ separately, Göttingen, 1886); “Über das vergleichende Studiumder niederdeutschen Mundarten,” Ndd. Korr.bl 11 (1886) 23-32; “Wahrung menes Rechhtes,” BB 12 (1887) 243-8; “Ἴφθιμος und ved. Ksi,” AJP 8 (1887) 214-17; repr. BB 18 (1887) 226-30; “Die Herkunft des schwachen Präteritums der german. Sprachen, AJP 9 (1888) 42-57; “On the Existence of Primitive Aryan sh,” JAOS 15 (1890) lxv-lxvi; “Die Behandlung des ursprünglich auslautenden ai im Gotischen, Althochdeutschen und Altsächsischen,” BB 17 (1891) 1-53; “Über Ficks Vergleichendes Wörterbuch der indoogerm. Sprachen,” AJP 12 (1891) 293-309; “Die drei indischen Wurzeln ksi und ihre Verwandten im Griechischen,” BB 18 (1892) 201-26; “Zur Bildung des Instrumentals der man-Stämme im Altindischen,” BB 18 (1892) 231-41; The Aryan Name of the Tongue: Oriental Studies (Boston, 1894); “The Etymology of ἄρα and μάψ, PAPA (1894) xxxix-xl; “Two Modern German Etymologies,” PMLA 10 (1895) 195-305; “Der Name der Goten bei Griechen und Römern,” JEGP 1 (1897) 220-38; “Traces of Indo-European Accentuation in Latin,” TAPA 28 (1897) 92-110; “Zu Goethes Faust. I. Eine mißverstandene Stelle im Vorspiel auf dem Theater,” Americana Germanica 2 (1898) 87-91; Waldeckisches Wörterbuch nebst Dialektproben, collected by K. Bauer, ed. Collitz (Leipzig, 1903); “Die Herkunft der Ia-Deklination,” BB 29 (1905) 81-114; “Segimer oder: Germanissche Namen in keltischen Gewande,” JEGP 6 (1907) 253-306; “Zum Hildebrandsliede,” PBB 36 (1910) 366-73; Das schwache Präteritum und seine Vergeschichte (Göttingen & Baltimore, 1912); “Zu den mittelhochdeutschen kurzen Präterita gie, fie, lie,” MLN 32 (1917) 207-25, 449-58; “Early Germanic Vocalism,” MLN 33 (1918) 321-33; “Old Icelandic raun and reyna,” Scand. Studies 6 (1921) 58-67; “Sunufatarungo,” JEGP 21 (1922) 557-71; “Gothic siponeis, a Loan Word from Greek,” AJP 46 (1925) 213-21;  “A Century of Grimm’s Law,” Language 2 (1926) 174-83; “Das schwache Präteritum als Mischbildung,” PMLA 43 (1928) 593-601; “Zwei Hapax Legomena der Göttischen Bibel,” Curme Volume of Linguistic Studies, Language Monographs 7 (1930) 60-83; “König Yima und Saturn,” Oriental Studies in Honour of Jal Dastur C. Pavry (Oxford, 1934) 86-108.

  • Notes:

    Collitz excelled at classics as a schoolboy and learned Sanskrit on his own before enrolling at Göttingen, where August Fick (1833-1916) sparked his interest in the relations of classical languages with the languages of Eastern Europe, Germany, and Persia. His field of vision was broadened by the epigraphist Hermann Sauppe (1809-93) and the Sanskritist Theodor Benfey (1809-81). At Berlin he broadened his expertise even further under the Indologist Albrecht Weber 1825-1901), the Germanists Karl Müllenhoff (1818-84) and Wilhelm Scherer (1841-86), the linguist Johannes Schmidt (1843-1901), and the Slavicist Vatroslav Jagič (1838-1923). His dissertation treated Indo-Iranian palatal consonants and Collitz immediately began publishing in the recently founded Beiträge zur Kunde der indogermanischen Sprachen (BB), which he continued to support with contributions after he had emigrated to America. Collitz completed his habilitation under the Indoeuropeanist Friedrich Bechtel (1855-1924) and succeeded the Danish linguist Karl Verner (1846-96) on the library staff at Halle. He began editing the collection of inscriptions by numerous contributors that became over the next 30 years the four-volume Sammlung der griechischen Dialektinschriften, a foundational reference for comparative linguistics. In 1886 he published Die neueste Sprachforschung, but despite its title, he declined the invitation of the historical linguist Eduard Sievers (1850-1932) to join the group of young linguists at Leipzig, who adopted the originally pejorative name Junggrammatiker, including Karl Brugmann (1849-1919), Otto Benhagel (1854-1936), Hermann Osthoff (1847-1909), and Berthold Delbrück (1842-1922). He believed strongly in sound changes as the basis for truly scientific investigation of language change rather than the largely analogic approach of the New Grammatists. Responding to an invitation from the recently established (1880) Bryn Mawr, he requested a leave of absence from Halle, in order to see if he would enjoy his new position as associate professor of German. (The leave of absence was only rescinded by Halle in 1904.) Upon his arrival in 1896, he continued his Lebenswerk on the Greek inscriptions, but so far from his homeland he became more and more interested in his German studies. He initiated a monograph series called Hesperia with his Das schwache Präteritum und seine Vergeschichte and edited 15 subsequent volumes. As Gildersleeve had done for classics, Collitz loudly championed American Germanistik and immediately began publishing in American scholarly journals, particularly Gildersleeve’s American Journal of Philology. He arrived at Johns Hopkins in 1907 he would ultimately help edit AJP as Gildersleeve’s health and eyesight began to flag. His chief contributions lay in the study of Sanskrit consonants, sound changes in German, and Greek dialectology and his eminence is confirmed by his being elected the first president of the Linguistic Society of America and president of the MLA. The 1929 Journal of the English and Germanic Philology was dedicated to him and a Festschrift offered by students in the next year. 

    Following the death of his wife Klara in 1944, her estate left a bequest to the Linguistic Society of America that established a Klara and Hermann Collitz Professorship in Comparative Philology.

  • Sources:

    Klara H. Collitz, in Studies in Honor of Hermann Collitz (Baltimore, 1930); E.H. Sehrt, “Hermann Collitz 1855-1935,” MLN 51, 2 (Feb. 1936) 69-80; ------, JHU Alumni Magazine (Nov. 1927) 66-9; Kemp Malone, “Hermann Collitz: A Necrology,” AJP 56 (1935) 289-91. 

  • Author: Ward Briggs