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Nikolai Trubetzkoy’s road to history

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A century ago, the Russian Revolution broke out in November of 1917, followed by a bloody civil war lasting until the early 1920s. Millions of families were displaced, fleeing to Europe and Asia. One of the many emigrant stories was that of Prince Nikolai Trubetzkoy. Trubetzkoy was from a well-known aristocratic family in tsarist Russia, and both his father and uncle had taught Moscow University. Boris Pasternak, who was a fellow student of Nikolai’s and a family friend, described them as “two elephants [who] … in aristocratic burring imploring voices, delivered their brilliant courses.” Vladimir Lenin was less charitable to Trubetzkoy’s father, who been part of a 1905 delegation proposing reforms to Nicholas II. When Trubetzkoy’s father died, Lenin’s obituary refer to him as “the tsar’s bourgeois flunkey.” Young Nikolai Trubetzkoy was something of a prodigy, publishing work on Finno-Ugric folklore at the age of just fifteen. At Moscow University, he studied Indo-European comparative. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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