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Cohen, Marcel


COHEN, MARCEL (Samuel Raphael ; 1884–1974), French linguist and philologist. Born in Paris, he studied at the Paris School of Oriental Languages from where he went on a study mission to Algeria. The results of this mission were summarized in his book, Le parler arabe des Juifs d'Alger (1912). In 1910 he was sent by the French Ministry of Education to Abyssinia where he collected material for his scientific research on linguistics and ethnography. Upon his return to Paris, the following year, he was appointed lecturer in Amharic at the School of Oriental Languages. After serving for four years as a soldier in World War i, Cohen became director of Ethiopian studies at the school. In 1924 he published his Le système verbal sémitique et l'expression du temps and in 1936 Traité de langue amharique. In these works he substantiated the proofs for *Benfey's thesis that all Semitic idioms and all branches of the Semitic-Hamitic language are of the same parentage. During World War ii, he participated in the underground anti-Nazi resistance movement. After resuming his academic activities in 1945, Cohen published another important work in the field of Semitic linguistics, Essai comparatif sur le vocabulaire et la phonétique du chamito-sémitique (1947), and founded the research center for comparative Semitics, Egyptian, etc., called glecs (Group linguistique d'études du chamito-sémitique). During this latter phase of his academic career he concentrated his research on the evolution of the French language and its social and cultural functions. In 1955 Cohen's friends published a jubilee volume to mark his completion of 50 years of academic activity. This book, Cinquante années de recherches linguistiques (1955), contained a list of all his books, essays, and articles.

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