GRYUNBERG TSVETINOVICH, ALEKSANDR LEONOVICH (b. St. Petersburg, 1 March 1930; d. St. Petersburg, 3 March 1995), Russian linguist who specialized in Iranian languages. Gryunberg worked primarily on Tati, Baluchi, Pamiri, Nuristani, Dardic, and Sistani languages, collecting and publishing a large number of their folklore and ethnographic texts. His father was a man of letters and a literary critic, and his mother was a philologist and translator from Turkish and Serbo-Croatian. Gryunberg studied at the Oriental Faculty of the St. Petersburg State University, where he received his doctorate in 1963, was habilitated in 1974, and became full professor in 1983.

The most significant contribution of Gryunberg to Iranian studies is the five monographs he published on the Tati, Munji, Kati, Wakhi, and Pashto languages. The first one (1963) was the outcome of his research expeditions to the Tat regions of the Caucasus. It contains a description of the Tati grammatical forms supplemented by a number of Tati texts. During the same period (1959-60) he made trips to Saraḵs in Turkmenistan to study the Sistani dialect.

From 1963 to 1967, he was working in Afghanistan as an interpreter for geologists and used the opportunity to study the languages of Badaḵšān and Nurestān. The result of his research was a series of studies on The languages of the Eastern Hindu Kush (Yazyki vostochnogo gindukusha), the first of which to be published was on the Munji language (1972), based on the texts he had recorded in 1966-67 in the Monjān valley of Afghanistan. His other extensive essay on the Munji language appeared in the collection “Fundamentals of Iranian Linguistics” (1987). The second book in the series, prepared with the collaboration of I. M. Steblin-Kamenskiĭ, was on the Wakhi language (1976) and, similar to the previous works, based mainly on the texts recorded in Tajik and Afghan Badaḵšān. A French translation appeared in 1988.

Gryunberg’s work on Kati, the main language of Nurestān, may be considered the best in the series (1980). His monograph on Pashtu is the first analytical study of the grammatical system of this language done according to the principles of modern linguistics. He is also the co-author, with D. I. Edelman, of the comprehensive study on Pashto, including the chapter on Pashto historical phonology, in “Fundamentals of Iranian linguistics.” During the 1970s and 1980s he was engaged in the study of Baluchi language and literature and wrote an article on the Dardic language (1971).

Gryunberg taught Pashto, Dari Persian, and Baluchi and the ethnography of the Afghans at the Oriental Faculty of St.-Petersburg State University, where he had been a professor since 1983, and was also the organi-zer and president of the Seminar of the St.-Petersburg Afghanologists.

Works, a selection of. “Istoriya izucheniya bespis’mennykh iranskikh yazykov” (History of the study of Iranian languages that lack writing), in Ocherki po istorii izucheniya iranskikh yazykov (Survey of the history of the study of Iranian languages), Moscow, 1962 (with V. S. Sokolova). “Seystanskiĭ dialekt v Serakhse” (Sistāni dialect of Saraḵs), Kratkie soobshcheniya Instituta narodov Azii 67, 1963, pp. 76-86. Yazyk severoazerbaidzhanskikh tatov (The language of the Tats of northern Azerbaijan), Leningrad, 1963. “K dialektologiĭ dardskikh yazykov” (On the dialectology of Dardic languages), in Indiĭskaya i iranskaya filologiya (Indian and Iranian philology), Moscow, 1971, pp. 3-29. Mundzhanski yazyk: teksty, slovar’, grammatiche-skiĭ ocherk (Munji language: text, vocabulary, grammatical sketch), Leningrad, 1972. Vakhanskiĭ yazyk: teksty, slovar’, grammaticheskii ocherk (Wakhi: Text, vocabulary, grammatical sketch), Moscow, 1976 (in collaboration witn I. M. Steblin-Kamenskiĭ); ed. and tr. D. Indoudjianas as La langue Wakhi, 2 vols., Paris, 1988. “Zametki po toponimiĭ afganskogo Badakhshana” (Notes on the toponyms of Afghan Badaḵšān), in E. M. Murzaev, V. A. Nikonov and V. V. Cybulskiĭ, eds., Onomatiska Vostoka (Onomatic of the Orient), Moscow, 1980, pp. 165-69. Yazyk kati: teksty, grammaticheskiĭ ocherk (Kati: Text, vocabulary, and grammatical sketch), Moscow, 1980. “Tatskiĭ yazyk” (Tati language), in Osnovy iranskogo yazykoznaniya, novoiranskie yazyki: zapadnaya gruppa, prikaspiĭskie yazyki (Fundamentals of Iranian linguistics, New Iranian languages: Western group, Caspian languages), Moscow, 1982, pp. 231-86 (in collaboration with L. Kh. Davydova). “Afganskiĭ yazyk” (Afghan language), in Osnovy iranskogo yazykoznaniya, novoiranskie yazyki: vostochnaya gruppa, (Fundamentals of Iranian Linguistics: New Iranian Languages, Eastern Group), Moscow, 1987, pp. 6-154 (with D. I. Edelman). “Mundzhanskiĭ yazyk” (Munji language), ibid., pp. 155-235. Ocherk grammatiki afganskogo yazyka (pashtu) (An outline of the grammar of the Afghan language [Pashto]), Leningrad, 1987. “Baluchi Epic Poem about Shadad and Manaz,” Newsletter of Baluchestan Studies 7, 1990, pp. 41-52.



I. M. Steblin-Kamenskiĭ, “Pamiati Aleksandra Leonovicha Gryunberga-Tsvetinovicha (1 Marta 1930-3 Marta 1995), Peterburgskoe vostokovednie 8,1996, pp. 640-68.

(Vladmir Kushev)

Originally Published: December 15, 2002

Last Updated: February 23, 2012

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Vol. XI, Fasc. 4, pp. 378-379