Famous 19th Century Linguists

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 1 
Charles Sanders Peirce
(Scientist, Philosopher)
Charles Sanders Peirce
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Birthdate: September 10, 1839
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Died: April 19, 1914
 2 
Mary Somerville
(Mathematician, Linguist, Translator, Astronomer, Scientist)
Mary Somerville
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Birthdate: December 26, 1780
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jedburgh
Died: November 28, 1872

One of the two pioneering female honorary members of the Royal Astronomical Society, Mary Somerville was a 19th-century polymath and science writer. Though she specialized in math and astronomy, she was also well-versed in botany and geology. The Connection of the Physical Sciences remains her most notable work.

 3 
Jacob Grimm
(Discoverer of ‘Grimm’s Law of Linguistics' and Co-author of the Largest German Dictionary 'Deutsches Wörterbuch')
Jacob Grimm
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Birthdate: January 4, 1785
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hanau, Germany
Died: September 20, 1863

Part of the legendary folklorist duo known as the Brothers Grimm, Jacob Grimm gave to the world Grimm’s Fairy Tales, along with his younger brother, Wilhelm Grimm. The son of a lawyer, he, too, had initially studied law. He also contributed immensely to Germanic linguistics, with his Grimm's law.

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 4 
L. L. Zamenhof
(Linguist, Ophthalmologist, Inventor, Poet, Translator, Esperantist, Physician, Writer, Bible translator)
L. L. Zamenhof
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Birthdate: December 15, 1859
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Białystok
Died: April 14, 1917

L. L. Zamenhof was an ophthalmologist best remembered for creating the most widely spoken international auxiliary language, Esperanto. He came up with the constructed language after being consumed by the idea of a warless world. L. L. Zamenhof received several honors for creating Esperanto, including the Légion d'honneur. He also received 12 nominations for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.

 5 
Samuel Ajayi Crowther
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Birthdate: 1809 AD
Birthplace: Nigeria
Died: December 31, 1891
 6 
Wilhelm von Humboldt
(Philosopher, Diplomat)
Wilhelm von Humboldt
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Birthdate: June 22, 1767
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Potsdam, Germany
Died: April 8, 1835
 7 
Roman Jakobson
(Linguist)
Roman Jakobson
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Birthdate: October 11, 1896
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: July 18, 1982
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 8 
Wilhelm Grimm
(German Anthropologist, Author and One Half of the Popular Literary Duo, 'The Brothers Grimm')
Wilhelm Grimm
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Birthdate: February 24, 1786
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hanau
Died: December 16, 1859

Wilhelm Grimm was a German anthropologist and author. He is best remembered as one half of the popular literary duo, the Brothers Grimm. Along with his elder brother Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm published a collection of fairy tales in 1812. It was later translated into English and came to be known as Grimms' Fairy Tales.

 9 
Edward Sapir
(Anthropologist, Linguist, Sociolinguist, University teacher, Ethnologist)
Edward Sapir
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Birthdate: January 26, 1884
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lębork
Died: February 4, 1939

Edward Sapir was an anthropologist-linguist. He played a pivotal role in the development of the discipline of linguistics in USA. He studied Germanic linguistics at Columbia and later researched Native American languages. He was an expert in the study of Athabascan languages and Chinookan languages. He also worked with Yiddish, Hebrew, and Chinese languages. 

 10 
Benjamin Lee Whorf
(Anthropologist, Linguist)
Benjamin Lee Whorf
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Birthdate: April 24, 1897
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Winthrop, Massachusetts
Died: July 26, 1941

Benjamin Lee Whorf was a linguist cum fire prevention engineer. Along with his mentor Edward Sapir, he developed what is frequently called the “Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.” Even though he was a chemical engineer by profession, he developed an early interest in linguistics and presented several papers at linguistics conferences. Unfortunately, he died at the relatively young age of 44. 

 11 
Ferdinand de Saussure
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Birthdate: November 26, 1857
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: February 22, 1913

Known as the father of linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure laid down the concept of semiotics. He distinguished between parole and langue, leading later thinkers to explore structuralism. His only book was his dissertation on vowels in Indo-European languages, with the rest being collections of his lectures.

 12 
Vuk Stefanović Karadžić
(Philologist, Anthropologist and Linguist)
Vuk Stefanović Karadžić
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Birthdate: November 6, 1787
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tršić, Serbia
Died: February 7, 1864
 13 
Isabelo de los Reyes
(Linguist, Journalist, Trade unionist)
Isabelo de los Reyes
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Birthdate: July 7, 1864
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vigan
Died: October 10, 1938
 14 
Sol Plaatje
(South African Journalist, Linguist, Founding Member and First General Secretary of the 'South African Native National Congress')
Sol Plaatje
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Birthdate: October 9, 1876
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Boshof, South Africa
Died: June 19, 1932
South African writer and journalist Sol Plaatje, known for his novel Mhudi, was well-versed in a number of languages, apart from his native Tswana. He founded what later became the African National Congress and made people across the globe aware of the plight of black Africans in his country.
 15 
Hermann Gundert
(Linguist)
Hermann Gundert
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Birthdate: February 4, 1814
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Stuttgart, Germany
Died: April 25, 1893
 16 
Hermann Grassmann
(German Polymath Best Known for His Work as a Mathematician)
Hermann Grassmann
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Birthdate: April 15, 1809
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Szczecin, Poland
Died: September 26, 1877

Hermann Grassmann was a German polymath remembered for his work in linear algebra, although he wasn’t acknowledged as a mathematician for most part of his life. His work Die lineale Ausdehnungslehre, ein neuer Zweig der Mathematik was revolutionary in the field of mathematics and was far ahead of its time. During his lifetime, he was only known as a linguist.

 17 
Otto Jespersen
(Former linguist who specialized in the grammar of the English language)
Otto Jespersen
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Birthdate: July 16, 1860
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Randers, Denmark
Died: April 30, 1943

Otto Jespersen was a Danish linguist best remembered for his expertise in the English language and its grammar. Counted among the greatest language scholars of his generation, Otto Jespersen played a prominent role in the international language movement. He also served as a professor at the University of Copenhagen between 1893 and 1925.

 18 
Bartolomé Mitre
(Soldier, Linguist, Journalist, Historian, Politician, Translator)
Bartolomé Mitre
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Birthdate: June 26, 1821
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Buenos Aires
Died: January 19, 1906

Bartolomé Mitre was an Argentine soldier, statesman, and author. He is best remembered for his service as the President of Argentina from 12 October 1862 to 12 October 1868. A major political figure that best characterized liberalism in 19th century Argentina, Bartolomé Mitre was also a historian, journalist, writer, and poet.

 19 
Nikolai Trubetzkoy
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Birthdate: April 16, 1890
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: June 25, 1938
 20 
Friedrich Schlegel
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Birthdate: March 10, 1772
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hannover, Germany
Died: January 12, 1829
 21 
Henry Sweet
(Linguist, University teacher)
Henry Sweet
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Birthdate: September 15, 1845
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: April 30, 1912
 22 
Heinrich Zimmer
(Linguist)
Heinrich Zimmer
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Birthdate: December 6, 1890
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Greifswald, German Empire
Died: March 20, 1943
 23 
John Rupert Firth
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Birthdate: June 17, 1890
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Keighley, England
Died: December 14, 1960
 24 
Arthur Waley
(Translator)
Arthur Waley
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Birthdate: August 19, 1889
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England
Died: June 27, 1966
 25 
Franz Bopp
(Linguist)
Franz Bopp
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Birthdate: September 14, 1791
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mainz, Germany
Died: October 23, 1867
 26 
Joseph Wright
(Philologist, Linguist)
Joseph Wright
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Birthdate: October 31, 1855
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
Died: February 27, 1930
 27 
Karl Richard Lepsius
(Egyptologist)
Karl Richard Lepsius
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Birthdate: December 23, 1810
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Naumburg, Germany
Died: July 10, 1884
 28 
Charles Kay Ogden
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Birthdate: June 1, 1889
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fleetwood, England
Died: March 20, 1957
 29 
Henrik Wergeland
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Birthdate: June 17, 1808
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kristiansand, Norway
Died: July 12, 1845

Known for redefining Norwegian poetry, Henrik Wergeland is known for his iconic works such as Creation, Humanity, and Messiah and Jan van Huysum’s Flowerpiece. He fought for the constitutional rights of Jews and became a symbol of Norwegian independence, in spite of his early death at 37.

 30 
Rasmus Rask
(Danish Linguist and Philologist Known for His Contributions to Comparative Linguistics)
Rasmus Rask
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Birthdate: November 22, 1787
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Denmark
Died: November 14, 1832

Danish philologist and linguist Rasmus Rask is known for pioneering Icelandic grammar. He also taught at the University of Copenhagen. His research later led to the basic law of comparative linguistics, also known as Grimm’s law. He traveled extensively, to places such as Persia, Ceylon, and India, and learned 25 languages and dialects.

 31 
Harry Johnston
(Botanist)
Harry Johnston
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Birthdate: June 12, 1858
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kennington Park, London,England
Died: July 31, 1927

British botanist Harry Johnston is remembered for his extensive exploratory voyages to Africa. His explorations gave way to the 19th-century Scramble for Africa by colonial powers. He had also been a painter and a freelance journalist in his initial days in Africa. He also penned countless books on Africa.

 32 
Julius Pokorny
(Linguist)
Julius Pokorny
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Birthdate: June 12, 1887
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
Died: April 8, 1970
Sir George Abraham Grierson
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Birthdate: January 7, 1851
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glenageary, Ireland
Died: March 9, 1941
 34 
Martha Carey Thomas
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Birthdate: January 2, 1857
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: December 2, 1935
 35 
Reynold A. Nicholson
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Birthdate: August 18, 1868
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Keighley, England
Died: August 27, 1945
 36 
Ljudevit Gaj
(Former Linguist known for Gaj's Latin alphabet)
Ljudevit Gaj
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Birthdate: August 8, 1809
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Krapina, Croatia
Died: April 20, 1872
 37 
Karl Bühler
(German psychologist)
Karl Bühler
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Birthdate: May 27, 1879
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Meckesheim, Germany
Died: October 24, 1963
 38 
Wilhelm Schmidt
(Linguist)
Wilhelm Schmidt
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Birthdate: February 16, 1868
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hörde, Germany
Died: February 10, 1954
 39 
Edward Robinson
(Translator)
Edward Robinson
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Birthdate: April 10, 1794
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Southington, Connecticut, United States
Died: January 27, 1863

Edward Robinson was a biblical scholar best remembered for his work Biblical Researches in Palestine. Regarded as the first major work in Biblical Archaeology and Biblical Geography, his work earned him the titles, Founder of Modern Palestinology and Father of Biblical Geography. He is also remembered for translating scriptural works.

 40 
Gonçalves Dias
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Birthdate: August 10, 1823
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Caxias, State of Maranhão, Brazil
Died: November 3, 1864

Gonçalves Dias was a Brazilian lawyer, poet, playwright, ethnographer, and linguist. A major figure of Brazilian Romanticism, he is credited with having composed Canção do exílio, often considered the best known poem of Brazilian literature. He was posthumously awarded the title of national poet of Brazil and is the patron of the 15th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. 

 41 
Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski
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Birthdate: December 1, 1734
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Gdańsk, Poland
Died: March 19, 1823
Jan Niecisław Baudouin de Courtenay
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Birthdate: March 13, 1845
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Radzymin, Poland
Died: November 3, 1929

Polish linguist Jan Niecisław Baudouin de Courtenay is best remembered for laying down the theory of the phoneme. His Essay on a Theory of Phonetic Alternation has contributed immensely to modern linguistic science. He spent his entire life teaching at reputed universities, such as St. Petersburg and Warsaw.

 43 
Fleeming Jenkin
(Engineer)
Fleeming Jenkin
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Birthdate: March 25, 1833
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dungeness, England
Died: June 12, 1885

After a 10-year stint as an engineer working to construct and install submarine telegraph cables, Fleeming Jenkin published reports establishing the ohm as the unit of electrical resistance. He is also remembered as the inventor of the cable car and taught at institutes such as the University of Edinburgh.

 44 
Antoine Meillet
(Linguist)
Antoine Meillet
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Birthdate: November 11, 1866
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Moulins, France
Died: September 21, 1936
 45 
Simanas Daukantas
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Birthdate: October 28, 1793
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kalviai, Lithuania
Died: December 6, 1864
 46 
Johann Gottlieb Christaller
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Birthdate: November 19, 1827
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Winnenden, Germany
Died: December 16, 1895
 47 
Akhmet Baitursynov
(Intellectual)
Akhmet Baitursynov
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Birthdate: September 5, 1873
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Turgay Oblast, Kazakhstan
Died: December 8, 1937
 48 
Alexander John Ellis
(Mathematician)
Alexander John Ellis
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Birthdate: June 14, 1814
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hoxton, Middlesex, England
Died: October 28, 1890
 49 
Archibald Sayce
(Assyriologist)
Archibald Sayce
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Birthdate: September 25, 1846
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Shirehampton, Bristol, England
Died: February 4, 1933
 50 
William Dwight Whitney
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Birthdate: February 9, 1827
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Northampton, Massachusetts, United States
Died: June 7, 1894