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Obituaries165 Demetrius J. Georgacas ( ??µ?t???? ??????? Ge???a??? ) was one of the outstanding researchers in Greek lexicography and in lexicology, etymology , and onomastics. He was born in 1908 in Siderokastron in the Peloponnesus . Having studied at the University of Athens, he immediately entered the world of lexicography as one ofthe editors ofthe Lexikon tes Neos Hellenikes (for the letters P-Omega), published in 1932 by Pröia in Athens, and as a member of the staff of editors (his Greek title, syntáktes, is better) in the huge, but largely unfinished project of the Historikdn Lexikon tes Hellênikês Glosses of the Academy of Athens (1934-1946). However, in 1938 he went to Berlin for further studies. The signal result of this stay is one of the most useful works in Greek linguistics: the third volume of the Griechische Grammatik, the standard reference book for any student ofGreek historical linguistics. Its first edition was published by Karl Brugmann; in 1913 there was already a fourth edition, prepared by Albert Thumb.' In 1939 and 1950, a completely new edition was published by Eduard Schwyzer.2 This grammar is a great achievement of Neo-grammarian positivism: its 842 + 714 = 1,556 pages are so replete with data that its third volume by DemetriusJ. Georgacas, which consists of an index to vols. 1 and 2, has itself more than 400 pages densely printed in three columns of small print. W.L. Lorimer in his review of the Index praised Georgacas for his "chalcentery";3 this is a distinction otherwise given only to Murray himself, whom R. W. Chapman called "chalcenterous."4 However, like the OED, the Index to the Griechische Grammatik required more than the "brazen bowels" of diligence: to lemmatize the dialectical forms that vary so widely from one dialect to another, to explicate paradigmatically incomplete lexical units, to unify alphabets and transcriptions; all these and other problems were solved successfully. Any future author of a complicated linguistic index will do well to study this work of Georgacas. After the war, Demetrius Georgacas came to the United States. He held various positions in Chicago and Utah between 1948 and 1953. In 1953, he went to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, and stayed there for the rest of his life: first as Associate Professor, then from 1959 to 1975 as Professor, and from 1975 on as Research Professor and University Professor. The reasons underlying the selection of Grand Forks, North Dakota, as the seat ofoperations by a Hellenist may seem elusive, but the decision was a logical and, ultimately, a propitious one. In the fifties, Georgacas decided to compile what we would characterize as a (semi-) historical dictionary of Modern Greek. This was, ofcourse, an immense undertaking; it was the University of North Dakota (as I was told personally by my deceased friend) that promised him the strongest support, and it was this promise that brought Georgacas to Grand Forks. The choice might seem to have been risky, but the outcome was good: I am glad to report that the University, particularly as represented by Dean Bernard O'Kelly, remained faithful to the original compact . To the end of his days, Georgacas had his huge scriptorium there with thousands of boxes with contextual quotations, his rich reference library, etc. 166Obituaries It was this project to which Georgacas devoted most of his time. Developing from etymological studies and from the idea of a small, purely synchronic Greek-English dictionary, it became in the sixties the "Modern GreekEnglish Dictionary"; Georgacas was the main editor throughout (again, the Greek title sounds better: archisyntáktés). For many years he was assisted by his wife Barbara Georgacas and by various assistants brought over from Greece; most notably (in the early seventies) by Ioannes Kazazis, who is at present Professor in Thessaloniki and Acting Director of the work on the Historikon Lexikon of the Academy in Athens (I owe thanks to both for important pieces of information). As does every huge project, this one also had its own history. As already mentioned, it started as a plan for a modest bilingual Modern GreekEnglish dictionary, supported by what was then the Office of Education. However, perhaps...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 165-171
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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