Graur, Alexandru

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GRAUR, ALEXANDRU (1900–1980), Romanian linguist. Born into the family of an accountant, Graur studied classical philology at the Bucharest University. Until 1946 he taught at various Bucharest high schools, with a few years off because of the racial laws that did not allow Jews to teach in non-Jewish schools (1939–44). In 1946 Graur became a university professor. At the University of Bucharest he taught general linguistics courses. He was interested both in the history of language and in its contemporary functioning (according to European descriptivists). In addition he was also interested in the popularization of his science, and he tried to explain how a natural language functions and its relationship to the culture it is called upon to serve (with special emphasis on the Romanian language). Graur's distinct theoretical orientation was a more traditional one (he never overstepped the theoretical frameworks of comparative-historical linguistics); he accepted very few, and those mostly critically, of the basic tenets of the different structuralist or post-structuralist trends in linguistics. Although never explicitly, he rejected from the very beginning generativism and all the other linguistic paradigms that appeared in the wake of Noam Chomsky's theories, starting from 1957.

Graur's attitude toward a culturally oriented Judaism was somewhat ambiguous: only in his old age did he start to show a certain interest in his forefathers' religion, culture, and language: he published in the Jewish community's newspaper several articles in which he demonstrated the Hebrew etymology of several Romanian words which entered this language through the intermediacy of the Greek and Latin languages, or through international use.

[Paul Schveiger (2nd ed.)]