Chatterji, Suniti Kumar

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Chatterji, Suniti Kumar


Born Nov. 26, 1890, in Sibpur, near Calcutta; died May 29,1977, in Calcutta. Indian philologist, Orientalist, and public figure.

Chatterji graduated from the Calcutta District College in 1913 and from 1919 to 1922 studied Indo-European, Indian, Iranian, Slavic, Austro-Asiatic, and classical linguistics at the University of Paris, the College de France, and the School of Oriental Studies at the University of London. He became a professor at the University of Calcutta in 1922 and National Professor of India in Humanities in 1964. He was named vice-president of the National Academy of Letters in New Delhi in 1968 and became president the following year.

Chatterji published some 900 works in Bengali, Hindi, Sanskrit, and English. His research dealt with the history of Bengali phonetics and morphology, the development of the Indo-Aryan languages (particularly the Prakrits), and the influence of the substratum (Dravidian and Austro-Asiatic languages) on the lexicon of the Middle and Modern Indie (Indo-Aryan) languages. His principal work, The Origin and Development of the Bengali Language (1926), initiated the development of Indian linguistics on a modern scientific basis. In his linguistic studies Chatterji used historical, cultural, anthropological, and philosophic data. He wrote a book about his trip with R. Tagore to Malaya, Indonesia, and Thailand, and he is the author of works in Bengali on literary subjects.

Chatterji served on many committees that dealt with educational, cultural, and linguistic problems. From 1952 to 1965 he was chairman of the upper house of the legislative body of West Bengal. He was an honorary member of many academies, institutes, and scientific societies in Europe, Asia, and America. In 1969, Chatterji became president of the International Phonetic Association in London and of the West Bengal division of the Indian-Soviet Cultural Society.


Languages and the Linguistic Problem. Oxford, 1945.
Indo-Aryan and Hindi. Calcutta, 1960.
Languages and Literatures of Modern India. Calcutta, 1963.
Select Papers, vol. 1. Delhi, 1972.
In Russian translation:
Vvedenie v indoariiskoe iazykoznanie. Moscow, 1977.