History The Irish Language - An Ghaeilge

Calvert Watkins, 1933–2013

Cover of "How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects o...
How To Kill A Dragon, Calvert Watkins

A quick post to note the passing of the great Indo-European historian and linguist Calvert Watkins who died on the 21st of this month at the age of 80. From the Harvard Gazette:

“Watkins’ research was focused on the linguistics and the poetics of all the earlier Indo-European languages and societies, particularly Greek, Latin and Italic, Celtic (especially Early Irish), Anatolian (especially Hittite and Luvian), Vedic Indic, and Old Iranian. Much of his work was also focused on historical linguistic theory and method and Indo-European genetic comparative literature.

Watkins was the author of several books, including, “How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics,” which was awarded the American Philological Association’s Goodwin Prize in 1998. Other books by Watkins include “Indo-European Origins of the Celtic Verb I,” “The Sigmatic Aorist,” and “Indogermanische Grammatik III/1.”

Watkins contributed to dozens of other publications, and authored more than 150 scholarly articles and reviews, more than 50 of which were published in three volumes as selected writings.  On a more popular level, he was the editor of the Indo-European root appendix to the “American Heritage Dictionary,” first published in 1969. Together with an accompanying essay, the appendix was later published in a separate edition and included in subsequent editions of the dictionary.  Accessibly written, it reached a large public and inspired an interest in linguistics and Indo-European in many casual readers, as well as in some who went on to enter the profession.

Watkins was also particularly active in the academic world, serving as president of the Linguistic Society of America in 1988, and was an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Philosophical Society, a corresponding fellow of the British Academy and of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, correspondant etranger, associé etranger, membre de l’Institut.

Watkins is survived by his wife and by four children, Cynthia Watkins, David Cushman, Catherine Cushman, and Nicholas Watkins, and by eight grandchildren.”

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