Vyacheslav Ivanov (philologist)

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Vyacheslav Vsevolodovich Ivanov
Ivanov, Viacheslav.JPG
Ivanov at the 6 Moscow International Book Festival, 2011
Native name Вячеслав Всеволодович Иванов
Born (1929-08-21) 21 August 1929 (age 92)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Citizenship  Soviet Union (1929–1991)→ Russia (1991–present)
Nationality Russian
Fields philology, semiotics, linguistics
Alma mater Moscow State University
Notable awards Lenin Prize, the USSR State Prize

Vyacheslav Vsevolodovich Ivanov (Russian: Вячесла́в Все́володович Ива́нов, born 21 August 1929, Moscow) is a prominent Soviet/Russian philologist and Indo-Europeanist probably best known for his glottalic theory of Indo-European consonantism and for placing the Indo-European urheimat in the area of the Armenian Highlands and Lake Urmia.

Early life

Vyacheslav Ivanov's father was Vsevolod Ivanov, one of the most prominent Soviet writers. His mother was an actress who worked in the theatre of Vsevolod Meyerhold. His childhood was clouded by disease and war, which he spent in Tashkent evacuation.

Ivanov was educated at Moscow University and worked there until 1958, when he was fired on account of his sympathy with Boris Pasternak and Roman Jacobson. By that time, he had made some important contributions to Indo-European studies and became one of the leading authorities on Hittite language.


During the early 1960s, Ivanov was one of the first Soviet scholars to take a keen interest in and develop semiotics. He worked with Vladimir Toporov on several linguistic monographs, including an outline of Sanskrit. In 1962 he joined Toporov and Juri Lotman in establishing the Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School.

In the 1980s Ivanov worked with Tamaz Gamkrelidze on a new theory of Indo-European migrations, which was most recently advocated by them in Indo-European and Indo-Europeans (1995). He led the All-Union Library of Foreign Literature between 1989 and 1993 and held a seat in the Supreme Soviet of Russia. Simultaneously, he established the Institute of World Culture and held a chair in Theory and History of World Culture at the Moscow University.

Since the late 1990s Ivanov shares his time between Moscow (where he teaches in the Russian State University for the Humanities) and Los Angeles, where he delivers courses at the University of California, Los Angeles. He also worked as a professor in Stanford University and Yale University.

He was made a full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2000, and he has been a Foreign Fellow of the British Academy since 1977.[1]

Other interests

In 1965 Vyacheslav Ivanov edited, wrote extensive scholarly comments, and published the first Russian edition of previously unpublished "Psychology of Art" by Lev Vygotsky (the work written in the first half of the 1920s). The second, extended and corrected edition of the book came out in 1968 and included another Vygotsky's unpublished work, his treatise on Shakespeare's Hamlet (written in 1915-1916). The first edition of the book was subsequently translated into English by Scripta Technica Inc. and released by MIT Press in 1971.

Apart from his scholarly pursuits, Vyacheslav Ivanov writes poetry. He also published several books of memoirs, including two on his acquaintances with Boris Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova.

Selected publications

  • Vyacheslav V. Ivanov and Thomas Gamkrelidze, "The Early History of Indo-European Languages", Scientific American; vol. 262, N. 3, 110-116, March, 1990.
  • Gamkrelidze, Tamaz V. & Vjacheslav V. Ivanov (1995). Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A reconstruction and historical analysis of a proto-language and a proto-culture. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-014728-9.


External links