Larin Boris Alexandrovich

    фото Б. А. Ларина
    17.01.1893 – 26.03.1964
    академик АН Лит. ССР, Dr. of Linguistics

    [I] was born on 5/12 January1893 in the city of Poltava into the family of a teacher who later became a priest (Father died in January 1930). [I] studied at the Kamenets-Podolsky Gymnasium (1902-1906), then at the Kyiv Pavel Galagan Collegium (1906-1910), and then at the History and Philology Faculty of the Kyiv University (1910-1914). As a student, I took part in the Old Russian Literature Seminar of Prof. V. E. Peretz. I wrote a Cand. of Sc. dissertation, O yazyke i stile sochineniy Antona Podolskogo [On the language and style of writings by Anton Podolsky] (a Moscow writer of the early XVIII century). I studied Comparative Linguistics and Sanskrit under Prof. I. Knauer. On his suggestion, I travelled to Lithuania (1913-1914) to study Lithuanian dialects by collecting material on the lexis of Lithuanian idioms. As of the early 1915, Prof. Knauer retained me at the University. Following the evacuation of the Kyiv University to the City of Saratov and the termination of Prof. Knauer’s employment at the University, I was dispatched to the Petrograd University (as of the autumn of 1916). In Petrograd, I continued my studies to prepare for my professorship (in Slavistics under I. A. Baudouin de Courtenay and L. V. Shcherba, in Sanskrit under Ac. Shcherbatsky, in Iranian languages under Ac. Zaleman, in Romanic languages under Prof. D. K. Petrov, and in Baltic languages, under Ass. Prof. Volter).

    In 1914 – 1922, I taught at secondary schools in Kyiv and then in Petrograd. As of 1919, I began teaching at higher education institutions: first at the 2nd State Pedagogical Institute, then (as of 1920) at the Herzen State Pedagogical Institute, and then at the Petrograd University (as of 1924). In 1922, I was elected a professor of the Herzen State Pedagogical Institute for the first time; this title was confirmed three times (1928,1929, and 1938.)

    In the thirty years of my teaching at higher education institutions, I gave numerous courses in: General Linguistics; Introduction into Russian Ethnology; Russian Dialectology; the Russian Language History; the Old Slavonic, Polish and Serbo-Croat languages; Introduction into the Baltic Philology and the Lithuanian Language; the Ukrainian Language; Sanskrit; and the Russian Stylistics.

    Almost annually in 1924 – 1940 and later in 1947 and 1949, I led groups of my students to dialectology field trips. In 1926-31, I headed surveys (by the “City Language” group under the Institute for the History of Arts) of the workers’ speech and professional jargons. Also, I took an active part in the organization of the All-Union Dialectology Conferences I, II and III (in 1938, in Rostov-on-Don, in 1939 in Leningrad, in 1944 in Vologda), as well as in three Ukrainian republican dialectology conferences (in 1947, 1948 and 1949.)

    My major works are devoted to the history and dialectology of the Russian language. A range of my preparatory works and small-scale investigations culminated in my doctoral dissertation: Tri inostrannykh istochnika po istorii russkogo yazyka XVI-XVII vv. [Three foreign sources on the history of the Russian language of the XVI-XVII centuries] (see the numbers 1, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 29, 32, 33, 34, 35, 40, 42, 43, 44, 47, 49, 50, 54, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62 in the list of my works.)

    The second cycle of my works deal with lexicography and lexicology – mostly, of the Russian language. It took me a number of years to prepare The Explanatory Russian Dictionary edited by D. N. Ushakov, and as of 1934 and till the autumn of 1949 I devoted a lot of time and effort to the Old Russian Dictionary of the USSR Academy of Sciences (see the numbers 20, 21, 26, 36, 37, 39, 40, 41, 57, 64 in the list of my works.) Some of my works address the standard language theory, stylistics, and author’s language issues (see 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 14, 22, 23, 27, 28, 38, 51 in the list of my works.)

    Some of my works deal with the Baltic and Indian philology (see 7, 9, 30, 39, 45, 55, 61 in the list of my works.)

    In 1945, after my election as a Corresponding Member of the Ukrainian SSR Academy of Sciences, I organized the operation to compile the Dialectology Atlas of the Ukrainian Language (see 52, 53, 56, 60 in the list of my works.)

    At the end of December 1941, I was evacuated from the besieged Leningrad by plane.  On spending some time in Tashkent, I worked in the city of Yaransk of the Kirov Oblast, then in Moscow as of 1948(??), and as of the autumn of 1944, in Leningrad (The Institute of the Russian Language of the USSR Academy of Sciences and the Leningrad State University) again.

    In 1940-1941 I started, and in 1946-47 finished my translation of the novel Zemlya-kormilitsa [Mother Earth] by the famous in the USSR Lithuanian writer Petras Cvirka; in January 1948, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR awarded me a Certificate of Appreciation for this work.

    In 1945, for my work with the Headquarters of the Leningrad Front (translation of maps and other aids) in the period from July to December 1941, I was awarded a “Medal for the Defense of Leningrad” and, in the same 1945, an “Order of the Red Banner of Labour” for scientific achievements.

    In June 1949, I was elected a Full Member of the Lithuanian SSR Academy of Sciences. Thereupon, I began collecting material for a book on Slavic-Baltic language ties and historic relations with an aim to shed light on the convergences and divergences in the North-East group of European languages. In addition, on a suggestion by the Bureau of the Department for Language and Literature of the Lithuanian SSR Academy of Sciences, during the next five-year industrial plan (1950-1955) I will take part in the activities of the Chief Editorial Office for Lithuanian Academic Dictionaries and in the preparation of experts in Lithuanistics, which would be more feasible to do by organizing postgraduate and doctoral studies in Baltic languages at the N. Marr Institute of Language and Thought.

    21/XII/1949 Prof. B. Larin