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prof. PhDr. Václav Machek, DrSc.


(* 1894 – † 1965)


He studied classical philology, Bohemian studies, and Indo-European studies at the Faculty of Arts in Prague. After earning his doctorate (1921), he continued his studies in Paris for two years with A. Meillet. He was a member of the academic staff of the Dictionary of the Czech Language in Prague (1929–1931). From 1931, he worked at the Faculty of Arts in Brno. For many years, he headed the Department of Ancient Culture, then the Department of Slavic Studies, and from 1952–1954, he served as vice-dean. He was a member of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Arts, the Royal Bohemian Society of Sciences, and after the establishment of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, he became its corresponding member in 1953. He served as an editor of various scholarly journals, such as LF, SPFFBU, and others. For his contributions to science, he was awarded the Order of Labour (1964).

He was scientifically active in the field of comparative Indo-European linguistics in all its breadth, particularly from the Slavic aspect. As an expert on Baltic languages, he contributed to the understanding of Slavic-Baltic linguistic relations (Recherches dans le domaine du lexique balto-slave; 1934). His scientific domain was etymology, particularly the explanation of the development of word meanings. The culmination of his work in this field was the publication of the extensive Etymologický slovník jazyka českého a slovenského (1957, 1968); the part related to Czech was later published as Etymologický slovník jazyka českého (1997). His treatises on zoological and botanical terminology were based on detailed study of the actual terms (Česká a slovenská jména rostlin, 1954). Methodologically, he followed his university teachers J. Zubatý and O. Hujer; he was also influenced by the "French school" and the "Wörter und Sachen" approach. In his etymological research, he considered factual and semantic criteria primary and often allowed for various "irregular" phonetic processes. He became the founder of the internationally recognized Brno etymological school, which continues to build on his work to this day.

L.: K. Janáček, NŘ 37, 1954, 257–262; M. Jelínek, NŘ 47, 1964, 257–266; A. Erhart, SPFFBU A 12, 1964, 7–8 (bibliography on pp. 8–15); idem, RočUJEP 1964–68, (B.) 1969, 45–49; V. Blanár, SlR 30, 1965, 42–43; B. Havránek, NŘ 48, 1965, 248–249; F. Kopečný and A. Mátl, Sl 35, 1966, 338–339; Charisteria Venceslao Machek oblata (= Sl 63, 1994, no. 4); Ľ. Králik, SlSl 30/1, 1995, 92–93.

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