Şaineanu, Lazar

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ŞAINEANU, LAZAR (Lazar Schein; 1859–1934) philologian and folklorist. Born in Ploieşti, Romania, Şaineanu was appointed without salary to teach Romanian language and literature at the University of Bucharest and made a living teaching Latin in a high school. In spite of becoming well known and respected for his contribution to Romanian studies, as a Jew he always encountered general antagonism. He won prizes from the Romanian Academy and was the most prominent Romanian philologist, but was continuously denied Romanian citizenship even after he embraced Christianity. He finally left the country in 1901, taking up residence in Paris, where he taught Romanian folklore at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes at the Sorbonne. There he took the French form Sainéan as his name. While in Romania he contributed to Jewish publications under pseudonyms, writing Romanian Jewish history as well as Yiddish philology. He compiled a Romanian dictionary in four volumes (1895) which went through 84 editions. He also wrote several linguistic and folkloristic studies, his monumental work being a study on Oriental influences in Romanian culture and language (3 vols., 1900). As both a folklorist and linguist, he was interested in the popular elements of language which, in turn, led to his interest in slang. After settling in France he gained considerable notoriety for his studies on French slang and on Rabelais.

He published many books in these fields including: L'Argot Ancien 1455–1850 (1907); Les Sources de l'Argot Ancien (1912, 2 vols.); L'Argot des Tranchées (1915); Le Language Parisien au xixe Siècle (1920); La Langue de Rabelais (1922–23, 2 vols.); L'Influence et la Réputation de Rabelais (1930). He collaborated on the great edition of Rabelais by Abel Lefranc (1912–22). His opus magnum on French etymology is his Les Sources Indigènes de l'Etymologie Française (3 vols., 1925–30) and Autour des Sources Indigènes (1935).


Lettres de L. Sainéan… (1936), preface by C. Şaineanu.

[Abraham Feller]