Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lesser-known Historical Grammars of Latin VIII

The work at left, Istoricheskaja grammatika latinskogo jazyka by Josif Moissejevich Tronskij was first published in 1960.  A second edition by a team led by N. N. Kazanskij was issued in 2001.  It covers the usual things in the usual ways with rich epigraphical citation (always a good thing). The 2001 edition includes an essay by Kazanskij and Solopov discussing some relatively recent developments in IE linguistics.

The most remarkable fact about Tronskij, which I had heard from a number of reliable Russian sources, and which the introductory essay in this book confirms, is that his surname was originally Trotsky.  He changed his name in 1938, because you just couldn't have that name in the U.S.S.R. at that time. The famous Trotsky was originally named Bronshtein. He first used Trotksy in a falsified passport of 1902.  Supposedly, Trotsky was the name of one of his prison guards in Odessa.  Was this Trotsky a relative of Tronskij who was born and raised in Odessa?


  1. True story! don't know about any of the further Odessa connections, though.

    Another remarkable fact about IMT is that he used to sleep soundly through all talks, but always was the first one to give extensive feedback and ask questions. Quite a remarkable skill at the time when there were no handouts or slides.

  2. Thank you Sasha for the confirmation and the additional anecdote. What bad luck that a Bronshtein's fall from grace compelled a Trotsky to change his name! I've been reading a few pages from this book to improve my non-existent Russian and it's clear that IMT was a well informed and thoughtful scholar.