Friday, August 25, 2006


At dinner, I realized that exactly one year ago today I moved from the university dorm (where I had spent 8 crazy and beautiful years) to my own apartment. This realization put me into a nostalgic mood and since I don't have any perspective on 2006 yet, I started thinking about what 2005 was like. Difficult as I find it to concentrate on the positive, it only took me a moment to remember that 2005 was a bad year for Czecho-Slovak oriental studies. It was the year when, within two weeks, we lost two of our finest.

Milena Hübschmannová (1933-2005) was one of the pioneers of Roma studies in Czechoslovakia, author of the first Romani-Czech dictionary (during the work on which she even spoke to Roma from my native village) and several other books on Romani and Roma culture, the first chair of the department of Roma studies at the Charles University and a brave woman who fought both to preserve the Roma culture and language and to give them their rightful place in modern Europe.

Stanislav Segert (1921-2005) was a great scholar of Semitic languages, best known for his Basic Grammar of Ugaritic Language, Altaramäische Grammatik and work on the Qumran Scrolls and the dialect of Moab, author of hundreds of scholarly papers on various aspects of Semitic philology and one of the finest bearers of the tradition founded by Bedřich Hrozný and Karel Petráček. Though he has always been an inspiration to me, I have never had the honor to meet Professor Segert in person. I will let speak those who knew him.

Both will be missed. Džan devleha!