Today Is the Birthday of the First Slovene Grammar Author

Jernej Kopitar, a philologist, teacher, bibliographer and minerologist, was born on 21 August 1780 in the Repnje near Vodice village (Upper Carniola region). The book “Grammatik der slavischen Sprache in Krain, Karnten und Steyermark” published in 1809 became the first grammar of the Slovene literary language.

He was fond of folklore, had influence with European linguists and was a teacher of Fran Miklošič—the founder of the School for Comparative and Historical Studying of Slavic Languages Grammar.

After graduation, Kopitar worked as a home teacher at the house of baron Žiga Zois’s sister. Later he became a secretary, librarian and custodian of the baron’s mineralogical collections. The baron was known for his diverse interests and his desire to maintain information exchange between Slovenia and the rest of the world.

Jernej Kopitar started working on the Slovene language grammar to follow the example of the Czech linguist Dobrovský with the support of Zois. Two years after the book publication, he went to study law in Vienna. There the philologist got acquainted with the Serbian scientist Vuk Karadžić and assisted him in compiling the grammar and vocabulary of the Serbian language.

Besides, Kopitar worked on the reform of the Slovenian written language and supported his colleagues Peter Dajnko and Franc Serafina Metelko. In 1833, he became a party in the dispute about the principles of the Slovene language grammar, sharply criticizing another well-known philologist Matija Čop.