Grunberg-Tsvetinovich Alexander Leonovich


    G. was born in Leningrad into the family of an office employee. Graduating in 1952 from the Iranian Philology Chair of the Oriental Faculty (Leningrad State University or LGU), he became a postgraduate student of the Institute of Linguistics (under Prof. I. Zarubin) in 1953. As of 1957 and till his demise, G. worked as a researcher at the Leningrad Department of the Institute of Linguistics of the USSR Academy of Sciences (now, the ILS RAS). As of 1973, he also taught at the Iranian Philology Chair of the Oriental Faculty of the LGU (later, SPbGU) where he actually initiated a revival of Afghan studies in St. Petersburg.

    In 1963, G. defended his Cand. of Science (Ph.D.) thesis Yazyk severoazerbaydzhanskikh tatov [The Language of the North Azerbaijan Tats] in two volumes (960 p.) at the LGU. In 1973, he defended his doctoral dissertation Yazyki Vostochnogo Gindukusha: Issledovaniya i materialy [Languages of the Eastern Hindu Kush: Studies and Materials] at the Leningrad Department of the Institute of Linguistics of the USSR Academy of Sciences

    G. has authored around 100 scientific publications, including several monographs.

    G. was a leading expert in living Indo-Iranian languages. During several expeditions to remote areas of understudied or practically unexplored Iranian and Indo-Arian (Nuristan) languages, G. collected unique linguistic materials, based on which he prepared grammatical descriptions of six languages, with three of these (Grangali, Kata, and Munji) described for the first time (!). This alone is recognized as a fundamental contribution to Indo-European studies. Unfortunately, it was far from all of the evidence he collected that G. had time to process and publish.

    As of 1987, G. provided assistance to the Afghan Academy of Sciences in the development of new writing systems for unwritten languages. He proposed draft alphabets for Baluchi, Kafir, Pamir, and Pashayi languages, all based on Dari.


    1. 1954-1955 – field trips to Azerbaijan to study Tat Muslim dialects in Northern Azerbaijan. The material collected was used in his Cand. of Sc. dissertation and in a number of other publications.

    2. 1958 – An expedition by the USSR Academy of Sciences led by the famous geographer, traveler and writer K. Staniukovitch to search for relict hominids. The expedition also involved ethnographic and linguistic studies.

    3. 1958-1960 – expeditions to Turkmenia (Sarahs, Kushka). They found residents of the Iranian Taimuri and Jamshidi descent, interviewed members of the Baluchi and Kurdish populations. Finally, they discovered a colony of migrants from Sistān, speakers of a specific Persian dialect, the actual target of G’s linguistic interest in these expeditions. One of the results was publication of the recorded tales, legends and songs of the Sistān migrants.

    4. 1963-1968 гг. – G. worked as an interpreter/translator for geological expeditions organized by the Afghan Ministry for Mining and Industry. This work enabled him to penetrate into remote mountain areas of Afghanistan and, despite all challenges of the rough field environment, make recordings of unexplored languages and dialects. It took G. many years to process and publish these materials. Unfortunately, his untimely demise left this work unfinished.

    Major publications
    • Yazyk severoazerbaydzhanskikh tatov [The Language of the North Azerbaijan Tats]. L., 1963. 212 p.
    • Yazyki Vostochnogo Gindukusha. Mundzhanskiy yazyk. Teksty, slovar, grammaticheskiy ocherk [Eastern Hindu Kush Languages. The Munji Language. Texts, dictionary, a grammatical essay]. L., 1972. 474 p.
    • Yazyki Vostochnogo Gindukusha. Vakhanskiy yazyk. Teksty, slovar, grammaticheskiy ocherk [Eastern Hindu Kush Languages. The Vakhi Language. Texts, dictionary, a grammatical essay]. M., 1976. 670 p. (co-authored with I. M. Steblin-Kamensky).
    • Skazki narodov Pamira/Per. s pamirskikh yazykov [Pamir Folk Tales/Transl. from Pamir languages]. M., 1976. 536 p. (Compiled and commented on together with I. M. Steblin-Kamensky).
    • Yazyki Vostochnogo Gindukusha. Yazyk kati. Teksty, grammaticheskiy ocherk [Eastern Hindu Kush Languages. The Kata Language.Texts, a grammatical essay]. M., 1980. 296 p.
    • Ocherk grammatiki afganskogo yazyka (pashto) [An Essay of the Afghan (Pashtun) Language Grammar]. L., 1987.240 p.
    • Seistanskiy dialekt v Serakhse [The Sistān Dialect in Sarahs]// KSINA. 67: Iranskaya filologiya. M., 1963. p. 76-86.
    • K dialektologii dardskikh yazykov (glangali i zemiaki) [On the dialectology of Dardic languages (Grangali and Zemiaki)] // Indiyskaya i iranskaya filologiya: Voprosy dialektologii. M., 1971. p. 3-29.
    • Afganistan: Yazykovaya situatsiya i yazykovaya politika [Afghanistan: The language situation and the language policies] //Izv. AN SSSR. Seriya literatury i yazyka. V. 47. 1988. No 2. p. 167-173.
    • Yazyki mira. Dardskiye i nuristanskiye yazyki [Languages of the World. Dardic and Nuristani languages]. M., 1999. (Articles of 15 author’s sheets on the following languages: Ashkun, Waigali, Gawar, Grangali, Dameli, Zemiaki, Kati, Kurdari, Munji, Nangalami, Pashayi, Prasun, Phalura, Savi, Tati, Tirahi, Torwali, Tregami, Shumashti).
    Literature about A. L. Grunberg
    • I. M. Steblin-Kamenskiy. Aleksandr Leonovich Gryunberg-Tsvetinovich (1 marta 1930-3 marta 1995) //Strany i narody Vostoka. Vyp. XXX. Tsentralnaya Aziya. Vostochnyy Gindukush. SPB, \"Peterburgskoye vostokovedeniye\", 1998. p. 5-29.
    • I. M. Steblin-Kamenskiy. Pamyati Aleksandra Leonovicha Gryunberga-Tsvetinovicha (1 marta 1930-3 marta 1995) // Peterburgskoye vostokovedeniye. Vyp. 8. SPb., 1996. p. 640-668. This paper contains a full list of A. L. Grunberg’s publications and a list of publications about him.