Hans kurath

Hans Kurath. Austrian-born American linguist, best known as the editor-in-chief of the New England Linguistic Atlas, the first comprehensive linguistic atlas of a large region, for which he received the Loubat Prize , as well as being the first senior editor of the Dictionary of Middle English.


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  • 1 Biographical data
    • 1 Studies
    • 2 Labor
      • 2.1 Techniques used
    • 3 Editions
    • 4 Death
  • 2 Awards
  • 3 Sources

Biographical data

Born on 13 December as as 1891 in Villach , Austria , Hungary . He emigrated from Austria to the United States in 1907 and became an American citizen in 1912 .

His wife was the noted ethnomusicologist Gertrude Prokosch Kurath .


He studied at the University of Texas in 1914 and the University of Chicago in 1920 .

He taught German at Northwestern University between 1920 and 1927 , German and linguistics at Ohio State University between 1927 and 1931 and at Brown University between 1931 and 1946 , and English and linguistics at the University of Michigan , Ann Arbor between 1946 and 1962 .

In 1941 he was president of the Linguistic Society of America and in 1946 he finally became Professor of English and Linguistics at the University of Michigan , Ann Arbor between 1946 – 1962 .

In 1959 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Chicago .


He developed his work standing out mainly in the fields of his interest:

  • Lexicography
  • Dialectology
  • Middle English
  • American English

His main interest within research and innovation was historical linguistics and his main objective, to use the Linguistic Atlas to reconstruct the evolution of American English from the relatively “pure” forms of English brought to the United States by the first settlers to dialects. regions that existed in the contemporary United States.

Kurath was convinced that language has kept a living record of events such as the growth of trade and transportation systems, urbanization, and population movements. By graphing regional differences in vocabulary and pronunciation on the maps, Kurath and the other researchers were putting together what they hoped was a visual record of the social processes that had transformed American English over the past 200 years.

Techniques used

Each regional operation uses similar techniques: a small team of linguists are deployed throughout the region to interview at least two people in each county. Kurath gave the researchers explicit instructions on the types of informants who were deemed suitable for the project.

In each town or city selected for the project at least two people would be chosen, one had to be “old-fashioned and unschooled,” Kurath suggested a farmer or a farmer’s wife, and the other had to be “a member of the middle class that has had the benefit of a primary school or secondary education “(Kurath 1949: v).

The communities themselves were also carefully scrutinized. Kurath places a priority on cities that were early American settlements or could be directly linked to them through historical records.


Kurath’s career focuses primarily on the dialects of American English. From 1946 to 1962 he was also editor-in-chief of the Dictionary of Middle English.

In addition to having edited and written:

  • Linguistic Atlas of New England, 3 vol. ( 1939 – 1943 ),
  • Manual of Linguistics Geography of New England ( 1939
  • A Word Geography of the Eastern United States ( 1949 )
  • The Pronunciation of English in the Atlantic States ( 1961 )

Along with Raven I. McDavid, Jr. he also published a Linguistic Atlas of the Eastern United States , Pronunciation of English in the Atlantic States .


He died on 2 of January of 1992 , Ann Arbor , Michigan , in the United States , at the age of 100.


He is best known for publishing the first linguistic atlas of the United States, the Linguistic Atlas of New England, for which he received the Loubat Prize , as well as being the first principal editor of the Dictionary of Middle English.


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