LINGUIST List 32.202

Wed Jan 13 2021

All: In Memoriam: Leonid Leonidovich Kasatkin

Editor for this issue: Joshua Sims <>

Date: 13-Jan-2021
From: LINGUIST List <>
Subject: In Memoriam: Leonid Leonidovich Kasatkin
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On 13 September 2020, Professor Leonid Leonidovich Kasatkin, an outstanding Russian linguist, a world-class authority on Russian phonetics and dialectology, Head of the Department of Dialectology at the Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences between 1996 and 2012, a Second World War veteran, a strong and courageous man, passed away. Leonid Kasatkin’s academic heritage comprises about 400 works. Among them are monographs on the phonetics of Standard Russian and Russian dialects, reference books and chapters on standard and dialectal phonetics in university textbooks.
But it was Russian dialects that were the love of the entire academic life of Leonid Kasatkin. His first fieldtrip took place in 1953, when he, a twenty-seven-year-old lecturer at the Teacher’s Institute in Morshansk, a town in the north of the Tambov Region, took a group of students in a lorry to study the local rural dialects. Since then fieldwork in Russian dialectology became an integral part of his academic life for over six decades. He travelled almost the length and the breadth of Russia and conducted fieldwork in Russian Old Believers’ communities abroad: in the Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Poland, Estonia and the USA. He collected an enormous amount of audio recordings of dialectal speech – stories of the life of Russian peasants under the Soviet rule. Previously unknown or insufficiently studied dialectal phenomena which he identified enabled him to explain major processes in the history of Russian phonetics.
These discoveries underlay his monograph, Present-Day Russian Standard and Dialectal Phonetics As the Source for the History of the Russian Language, which came out in 1999 – a work of paramount importance for Russian linguistics. Subsequently, Leonid Kasatkin continued to work intensively on Russian dialects. In 2017, he published a two-volume edition of his works, with one of the volumes being devoted to Russian regional varieties (L. L. Kasatkin. Selected Works. In two volumes. Moscow, 2017). Leonid Kasatkin made a major contribution to the research of the Russian Standard variety. One fundamental outcome of this research is The Great Orthoepic Dictionary of the Russian Language (in co-authorship with Maria Kalenchuk and Rozalia Kasatkina, Moscow 2012) which stems from a large-scale study of the present-day Standard Russian pronunciation.
From the mid-1990s Leonid Kasatkin set about actively studying the dialects of Old Believers, including those living outside Russia. He made descriptions of the Old Believer dialects of Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, the Ukraine, North America, along with the Transbaikalia and the Don region, published accounts by Old Believers of their life in Russia and abroad, and supplied them with detailed linguistic commentaries. However, his interest in Old Believers was not only for linguistic reasons. He was sympathetic to their personality traits, such as loyalty to their convictions, disobedience of unrighteous authorities, fortitude in the face of hardships of life, self-respect and industriousness. These are the traits of Kasatkin himself too.
He completed his life’s journey courageously and beautifully: he had time to say good-bye to Odessa – the birthplace of his mother and the city of his adolescence; publish the reminiscences about his parents and their family correspondence (L. L. Kasatkin, The Story of One Family, Novyj Mir. 2016. No. 3); and prepared the publication of two volumes of his works. And he did not once complain about his serious illness, enduring it stoically and tacitly. We will miss this excellent and wise man, who has left behind a bright and thankful memory of himself.

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
Subject Language(s): Russian (rus)
Language Family(ies): Slavic

This issue was originally published on December 23, 2020 by Olga Rovnova.

Page Updated: 13-Jan-2021