Henrik Birnbaum



Born: 13 December 1925, in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland)
Deceased: 30 April 2002, in Los Angeles, CA


  • 1927-39 Warsaw, Poland
  • 1939-61 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 1961-2002–Los Angeles, California


  • Cand Phil. (in Slavic Philology, Germanic Philology, Comparative Literature) 1949
  • Mag. Phil. (same subjects plus Scandinavian Philology) 1952
  • Lic. Phil.
  • D. Litt. (in Slavic Philology) 1958–all degrees earned at Stockholm University, Sweden. Studied with, among others, Max Vasmer (Slavic Philology), Peeter Arumaa (Slavic and Baltic Linguistics), Roman Jakobson (postdoctoral, Slavic and General Linguistics).

Positions Held

  • Docent (=Assistant Professor) and Acting Professor in Slavic Philology, Stockholm University, 1958-61
  • Visiting Lecturer, Harvard University, 1960
  • Associate Professor, Slavic Languages and Literatures, UCLA, 1961-64
  • Professor, Slavic Languages and Literatures UCLA, 1964-94
  • Professor Emeritus since 1994
  • Professor, Slavic, Balkan, and Baltic Languages, University of Munich, 1972-73 (during leave of absence from UCLA)
  • Consultant, Linguistic Project, The RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, 1962-65
  • Department Chair, 1964-68, 1989-92
  • Director, Russian and East European Studies Center, UCLA, 1968- 78
  • Member, Executive Committee, Inter-University Center for Postgraduate Studies, Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia/Croatia, 1974-78,1995-2002
  • Chair, Academic Board and Recurrent Faculty Professor, Medieval Studies Department, Central European University, Budapest, 1992-2002

Honors and Awards

  • Guggenheim Fellow (1964/65)
  • Corresponding Member, Swedish Royal Academy of Letters (since 1981); Corresponding Member, Yugoslav/Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (since 1986)
  • Foreign Member, Polish Academy of Sciences (since 1988)
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (since 1992)
  • UCLA Faculty Research Lecturer (1985)
  • Honorary Member, Phi Beta Kappa (1985)
  • Doctor h. c., Nifont-Rilsky-University, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, 1995
  • Member of several professional societies and associations; Editor/Member, Editorial Board of a number of professional journals

Main Scholarly Interests

  • Slavic, Baltic, and Balkan Linguistics
  • Indo-European Studies
  • Theoretical and Typological Linguistics
  • Semiotics
  • Medieval Slavic Civilization
  • Modern Russian Literature

Major Publications

  • Untersuchungen zu den Zukunftsumschreibungen mit dem Infinitiv im Altkirchenslavischen. Ein Beitrag zur historischen Verbalsyntax des Slavischen, Stockholm, 1958.
  • Slaverna och deras grannfolk. En kort orientering [The Slavs and Their Neighbors. A Short Orientation], Uppsala, 1961.
  • Studies on Predication in Russian I, Santa Monica, CA, 1964.
  • Studies on Predication in Russian II, Santa Monica, CA, 1965.
  • Problems of Typological and Genetic Linguistics Viewed in a Generative Framework, The Hague, 1970.
  • On Medieval and Renaissance Slavic Writing. Selected Essays, The Hague, 1974.
  • Common Slavic: Progress and Problems in its Reconstruction, Cambridge, MA, 1975, 21979.
  • Doktor Faustus und Doktor Schiwago. Versuch ueber zwei Zeitromane aus Exilsicht, Lisse, 1976.
  • Linguistic Reconstruction: Its Potentials and Limitations in a New Perspective, Washington, D.C., 1977.
  • Lord Novgorod the Great: Essays in the History and Culture of a Medieval City-State. Part One: The Historical Background, Columbus, OH, 1981.
  • Essays in Early Slavic Civilization / Studien zur Fruehkultur der Slaven, Munich, 1981.
  • Recent Advances in the Reconstruction of Common Slavic (1971-1982) [jointly with P.T. Merrill], Columbus, OH, 1984.
  • Lord Novgorod the Great: Sociopolitical Experiment and Cultural Achievement, Los Angeles, 1985.
  • Praslavianskii iazyk. Dostizhenia i problemy v ego rekonstruktsii, Moscow, 1987.
  • Novgorod and Dubrovnik: Two Slavic City Republics and Their Civlization, Zagreb, 1989.
  • Aspects of the Slavic Middle Ages and Slavic Renaissance Culture, New York, 1992.
  • Novgorod in Focus, Columbus, OH, 1996.

Author of about 400 scholarly publications, including 20 books and/or monographs