Vuk Stefanović Karadžić bigraphy, stories - Linguists

Vuk Stefanović Karadžić : biography

7 November 1787 - 7 February 1864

Vuk Stefanović Karadžić ( ; 7 November 1787 – 7 February 1864) was a Serbian philologist and linguist who was the major reformer of the Serbian language. He deserves, perhaps, for his collections of songs, fairy tales, and riddles to be called the father of the study of Serbian folklore. He was also the author of the first Serbian dictionary in his new reformed language.

He was well known abroad and familiar to Jacob Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and historian Leopold von Ranke. Vuk was the primary source for Ranke's Serbische Revoluzion ("Serbian Revolution"), written in 1829.


Early life

Tršić.]] Vuk Karadžić was born to parents Stefan and Jegda (née Zrnić) in the village of Tršić, near Loznica in Serbia, then a part of the Ottoman Empire. His family settled from Drobnjaci, and his mother was born in Ozrinići, Nikšić (in present-day Montenegro.) His family had a low infant survival rate, thus he was named Vuk ('wolf') so that witches and evil spirits would not hurt him (the name was traditionally given to strengthen the bearer).


Vuk Karadžić was fortunate to be a relative of Jevta Savić Čotrić, the only literate person in the region at the time, who taught him how to read and write. Karadžić continued his education in Loznica, in the Monastery of Tronoša. As a boy he learned calligraphy there, using a reed instead of a pen and a solution of gunpowder for ink. In lieu of proper writing paper he was lucky if he could get cartridge wrappings. Throughout the whole region, regular schooling was not widespread at that time and his father at first did not allow him to go to Austria. Since most of the time while in the monastery Karadžić was forced to pasture the livestock instead of studying, his father brought him back home. Meanwhile, the First Serbian Uprising for Serbian independence from the Ottomans had broken out in 1804. After unsuccessful attempts to enroll in the gymnasium at Sremski Karlovci, for which 19 year-old Karadžić was too old, Karadžić left for Petrinje where he spent a few months learning Latin and German. Later on, he left for Belgrade in order to meet the highly respected scholar Dositej Obradović, and ask him to support his studies. Unfortunately, Obradović dismissed him. Disappointed, Karadžić left for Jadar and began working as a scribe for Jakov Nenadović. After the founding of the Belgrade Higher School, Karadžić became one of its first students.

Later life and death

Soon afterwards, he grew ill and left for medical treatment in Pest and Novi Sad, but was unable to receive treatment for his leg. It was rumored that Karadžić deliberately refused to undergo amputation, instead deciding to make do with a prosthetic wooden [peg-leg], of which there were several sarcastic references in some of his works. Karadžić returned to Serbia later on, however due to the Ottoman defeat of the rebels in 1813, he left for Vienna and later met Jernej Kopitar, an experienced linguist with a strong interest in secular slavistics. Kopitar's influence helped Karadžić with his struggle in reforming the Serbian language and its orthography. Another important influence was Sava Mrkalj.

In 1814 and 1815, Vuk published two volumes of Serbian Folk Songs (Српске народне пјесме), which afterwards increased to four, then to six, and finally to nine tomes. In enlarged editions, these admirable songs drew towards themselves the attention of all literary Europe and America. Goethe characterized some of them as "excellent and worthy of comparison with Solomon's Song of Songs."

In 1824, he sent a copy of his folksong collection to Jacob Grimm, who was enthralled particularly by The Building of Skadar which Vuk recorded from singing of Old Rashko. Grimm translated it into German and the song was noted and admired for many generations to come.Alan Dundes, The walled-up wife: a casebook, Grimm compared them with the noblest flowers of Homeric poetry, and of 'The Building of Skadar' (Зидање Скадра на Бојани) he said: "one of the most touching poems of all nations and all times." The founders of the Romantic School in France, Charles Nodier, Prosper Mérimée, Lamartine, Gerard de Nerval, and Claude Fauriel translated a goodly number of them, and they also attracted the attention of Russian Alexander Pushkin, Finnish national poet Johan Ludwig Runeberg, Czech Samuel Roznay, Pole Kazimierz Brodzinski, English writers Walter Scott, Owen Meredith, and John Bowring, among others.

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Living octopus

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