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THE EMINENT ARMENOLOGIST JOHN GREPPIN HAS DIED

John Greppin, noted Armenologist, died May 4, 2016 in Cleveland. Ohio after a long illness, surrounded by his family.

John A. C. Greppin, PhD born on April 2, 1937 in Rochester, NY.  
Dr. Greppin attended The Allendale School, in Rochester, NY, Dartmouth College, and University of Rochester.  He received a PhD in Indo European Studies at UCLA in 1972.  He taught Greek and Latin at the Woodstock Country School in South Woodstock, VT, and was a Professor at Cleveland State University from 1975-2010.  Author of 16 books and 500 articles and reviews.
 
His academic specialty was Classical Armenian.  He, along with his family, spent a year in Soviet Armenia on a State Department grant in 1974-75.  In 1998 he spent a semester in Gottingen as a visiting Professor.  He founded the Annual of Armenian Linguistics and edited it for 25 years.  He also co-edited Raft, a Journal of Armenian Poetry and Criticism.
 
 
The breadth of his interests impressed his students, and the focus of his work was Armenia—its language, history and culture, and the introduction of its finest philological and linguistic researchers to a wider academic world. This is why so many of his books and conferences were fertile collaborations with noted scholars, often from Armenia.
 
His earliest publication, derived from his dissertation (guided by Jaan Puhvel, professor of Hittite and comparative mythology) set out the evidence from Classical Armenian (Grabar) for the Indo-European laryngeals and was published by the Mechitarian Order of Vienna: Initial Vowel and Aspiration in Classical Armenian. Studien zur armenischen Geschichte XIII. Vienna: Mechitharisten-Buchdruckerei, 1973. That same order published his next linguistic study: Classical Armenian Nominal Suffixes: A Historical Survey. Studien zur armenischen Geschichte XV. Vienna: Mechitharisten-Buchdruck.rei 1975.
 
His next important production felicitously combined ornithology—a specialty of his wife, Mary. The nomenclature of birds allows a deep and wide-ranging study of the influences of neighboring languages, of dialectal variation, and of ancient substrate remnants from long forgotten cultures and their folkloric influences: Classical and Middle Armenian Bird Names: A Linguistic, Taxonomic and Mythological Study. Delmar, NY: Caravan Books 1978.
 
This breadth of interests and depth of analysis made John Greppin an important coordinator of academic seminars on knotty problems, and his next series of edited works displays the synergy he encouraged among his international colleagues:
Proceedings of the First International Conference of Armenian Linguistics (editor). Delmar, NY: Caravan Books 1980, and Interrogativity: A Colloquium on the Grammar, Typology and Pragmatics of Questions in Seven Diverse Languages (edited with others). Typological Studies in Language IV. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1984. When World's Collide, The Indo-European and the Pre-Indo-Europeans: The Bellagio Papers (edited with Thomas Markey). Ann Arbor, Michigan: Karoma Publications. 1990, and Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Armenian Linguistics. Cleveland, Ohio, September 14-18, 1991. Delmar, New York: Caravan Books. 1992.
 
John knew both monastic houses of the Armenian Mechitarian Order, and his admirable summation of widely disparate etymological materials in need of review and updating was published in Venice: An Etymological Dictionary of the Indo-European Components of Classical Armenian. Venice: San Lazzaro. 1984.
 
He appreciated the Armenians as surpassing translators (in all its layered meanings) of the cultures around them. Not only Classical Greek texts, but medieval scholastic commentaries and Old French Crusader law exist in unique Armenian translations. John emphasized medical history in his own philological work, but his academic articles in international journals and his frequent long book reviews for the Times (London) Literary Supplement, highlighted Armenia’s and its Diaspora’s momentous, epicyclical influences on world culture down the ages.
 
His work on medical history encompassed a good portion of his academic career:  Bark’ Galianosi: The Greek-Armenian Dictionary to Galen. Anatolian and Caucasian Studies VII. Delmar, New York: Caravan Books 1985, A Medieval Arabic-Armenian Botanical Dictionary. Studien zur Armenischen Geschichte XVI. Vienna: Mechitharisten-Buchdruckerei. 1997, and The Diffusion of Greco-Roman Medicine into the Middle East and the Caucasus (edited with others). Delmar, New York. Caravan Books, 1999.      
 
One of the most fruitful collaborations was with Prof. Khachaturian, the renowned dialectologist. Dialects are the vibrant life force of any language and remain the most difficult study because of the overwhelming amount of raw data. John helped to create one of the more useful handbooks in the dialectological field:  A Handbook of Armenian Dialectology (with Amalya Khachaturian). Anatolian and Caucasian Studies IX. Delmar, New York. Caravan Book. 1986.
 
John’s academic articles and the literary pieces fill over two score pages and touch upon almost every conceivable topic; however, even as Prof. Jaan Puhvel (then of UCLA) introduced him to Hittite and guided his thesis on the laryngeal, Puhvel also engaged his students in the murky and enticing field of comparative mythologies, whose interpretative tools can be anthropological, sociological, psychological, archaeological, folkloric, and/or philological/literary.
 
So we open and close this bibliographical essay with the eminent influence of Jan Puhvel:
Studies in Honor of Jaan Puhvel. Part .1: Ancient Languages and Philology (edited with others).  Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph Number 20. Washington: Institute for the Study of Man, 1997, and Studies in Honor of Jaan Puhvel. Part II: Mythology and Religion (edited with others). Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph Number 21. Washington: Institute for the Study of Man. 1997.  
Virgil Strohmeyer

P.S. The research staff of the Matenadaran expresses sincere condolences to the family of the outstanding Armenologist on the occasion of his passing away.
 

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