Julius Pokorny
Julius Pokorny was an Austrian linguist and scholar of the Celtic languages
Celtic languages
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

, particularly Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

, and a supporter of Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism manifests itself in political and social movements and in sentiment inspired by a love for Irish culture, language and history, and as a sense of pride in Ireland and in the Irish people...

. He held academic posts in Austrian and German universities.


He was born in Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

, Austria–Hungary, and educated at the Piarist School in Prague and the Benedictine Abbey
Kremsmünster Abbey
Kremsmünster Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Kremsmünster in Upper Austria.-History:The monastery was founded in 777 by Tassilo III, Duke of Bavaria...

 school in Kremsmünster
Kremsmünster is a town in Kirchdorf an der Krems , in Upper Austria, Austria. Its population is 6,450, as of 2001. Settled in 777, it is home to the Kremsmünster Abbey....

, Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

. From 1905 until 1911 he studied at the University of Vienna
University of Vienna
The University of Vienna is a public university located in Vienna, Austria. It was founded by Duke Rudolph IV in 1365 and is the oldest university in the German-speaking world...

, graduating in law and philology, and he taught there from 1913 to 1920. Roger Casement
Roger Casement
Roger David Casement —Sir Roger Casement CMG between 1911 and shortly before his execution for treason, when he was stripped of his British honours—was an Irish patriot, poet, revolutionary, and nationalist....

 was in correspondence with Pokorny in Austria from Berlin in March 1916. He also served as a reservist in the Austrian Army during World War I.

In 1920 he succeeded Kuno Meyer
Kuno Meyer
Kuno Meyer was a German scholar, distinguished in the field of Celtic philology and literature. His pro-German stance at the start of World War I while traveling in the United States was a source of controversy.-Biography:...

 as Chair of Celtic
Celtic languages
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

 at Friedrich Wilhelm University
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

 in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. Although baptised a Catholic at birth, and sympathetic to German nationalism, he was suspended in 1933 under the Nazi Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service , also known as Civil Service Law, Civil Service Restoration Act, and Law to Re-establish the Civil Service, was a law passed by the National Socialist regime on April 7, 1933, two months after Adolf...

, because of Jewish ancestry. He was reinstated later that year under the exemption for those who had worn the uniform of Germany or its allies in World War I, which had been insisted on by President Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 before he signed the bill into law. In 1935 he was dismissed under the provisions of the racist Nuremberg Laws
Nuremberg Laws
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating scientific racism and antisemitism...

. He continued to live more or less openly in Berlin until at least 1939, but lived a shadowy existence there from around 1940. He escaped to Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 in 1943, where he taught for a few years at the University of Berne
University of Berne
The University of Bern is a university in the Swiss capital of Bern and was founded in 1834. It is regulated and financed by the Canton of Bern. It is a comprehensive university offering a broad choice of courses and programmes in eight faculties and some 160 institutes. The university is an...

 and at the University of Zürich
University of Zurich
The University of Zurich , located in the city of Zurich, is the largest university in Switzerland, with over 25,000 students. It was founded in 1833 from the existing colleges of theology, law, medicine and a new faculty of philosophy....

 until his retirement in 1959.

In 1954, he received an honorary professorship at Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich
Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich
The Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich , commonly known as the University of Munich or LMU, is a university in Munich, Germany...

, where he taught part-time in 1956 and again from 1960 to 1965. He was awarded honorary degrees by the University of Wales at Swansea
Swansea University
Swansea University is a university located in Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom. Swansea University was chartered as University College of Swansea in 1920, as the fourth college of the University of Wales. In 1996, it changed its name to the University of Wales Swansea following structural changes...

 in 1965 and Edinburgh University in 1967. He died in Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

 in 1970 almost three weeks after being hit by a tram
Tram accident
A tram accident is generally an accident in which a tram is involved . When general traffic safety is evaluated, as in traffic accident statistics, any accident involving a tram or a tram system can be considered to be a tram accident...

 not far from his home.


He was the editor of the important journal of philological studies Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie
Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie
Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie ' is an academic journal of Celtic studies, which was founded in 1896 by the German scholars Kuno Meyer and Ludwig Christian Stern and first appeared in 1897. It is the first journal devoted exclusively to Celtic languages and literature and the oldest...

from 1921 until forced out by the Nazis in 1939, and was responsible for reviving it in 1954. He continued to edit it until his death in 1970. He is the author of the Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch
Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch
The Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch was published in 1959 by the Austrian-German comparative linguist and Celtic languages expert Julius Pokorny...

(Indo-European Etymological Dictionary; 1959) which is still widely used today. He also published several collections of Irish writing in German translation, and a thoroughly pro-nationalist history of Ireland in 1916, which appeared in English translation in 1933.

Pokorny was a dedicated supporter of the Pan-Illyrian theory and located the Illyrian civilization's Urheimat between the Weser and the Vistula
The Vistula is the longest and the most important river in Poland, at 1,047 km in length. The watershed area of the Vistula is , of which lies within Poland ....

 and east from that region where migration began around 2400 BC. Pokorny suggested that Illyrian elements were to be found in much of continental Europe and also in Britain and Ireland. His Illyromania derived in part from archaeological Germanomania and was supported by contemporary place-names specialists such as Max Vasmer
Max Vasmer
Max Vasmer was a Russian-born German linguist who studied problems of etymology of Indo-European, Finno-Ugric and Turkic languages and worked on history of Slavic, Baltic, Iranian, and Finno-Ugric peoples....

 (1928, 1929) and Hans Krahe
Hans Krahe
Hans Krahe was a German philologist and linguist, specializing over many decades in the Illyrian languages. He was born at Gelsenkirchen....

 (1929, 1935, 1940).

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