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 Sergey Ozhegov

Born:   September 22, 1900
Deceased:   December 15, 1964

Soviet linguist, lexicographer, and professor, the author of The Russian Dictionary


The world famous Russian Dictionary by Sergey Ozhegov was repeatedly republished both in Russia and abroad. It has become a reference book for thousands of people studying the Russian language around the world. Scientific reliability and high informational content combined with laconism – these are the main advantages that determined the extraordinary durability of this book, which has long outlasted its author.

Sergey Ivanovich Ozhegov was born on September (9) 22, 1900 in the Kamennoye Settlement of the former Tver Province.  In 1926 he graduated from the Philological Faculty of the Leningrad University, and upon the recommendation of his teachers V. Vinogradov and L. Shcherba he undertook postgraduate studies in the Institute of History of Literatures and Languages of the West and East.

The main object of his scientific research was colloquial Russian speech in all its aspects.  He was engaged in studying the history of the Russian literary language, historical grammar, lexicology, orthoepy, language of the Russian writers, orthography and phraseology.

From the late 1920s he started work on compiling The Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language under the editorship of Dmitry Ushakov. On its basis Ozhegov created one of the most well-known and popular glossaries – the one-volume Russian Dictionary, which recorded modern common lexis, showed collocability and typical phraseological units. The first edition of the Russian Dictionary by Ozhegov was published in 1949, and it started gaining popularity right away. From that time till 1991 Ozhegov’s glossary was republished 23 times, with the general circulation of over 7 million copies.  From one edition to another Ozhegov kept on revising the dictionary, aspiring to improve it to the level of a universal reference book on the speech culture.  Till the last days of his life the scientist was perfecting his major creation.
From 1952 Ozhegov was the head of the speech culture department of the Russian Language Institute under the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.  This was the time when well-known pronouncing dictionaries: Spelling Dictionary of Russian, The Russian Literary Pronunciation and Accent, Correctness of Russian Speech, and collections Issues of Speech Culture were published under Ozhegov’s editorship and in co-authorship with him. 
At the initiative of Sergey Ozhegov the Russian Language Referral Service was established at the Russian Language Institute in 1958. It responded to requests of the organizations and individuals concerning correctness of the Russian speech.

The Sociolinguistic researches by Sergey Ozhegov provided the basis for his promotion of the scientific challenge of “the Russian language and the Soviet society”.  The 4-volume monograph The Russian Language and the Soviet Society.  Sociolinguistic Research was published in 1968, after the death of Sergey Ozhegov.

Sergey Ivanovich Ozhegov was a heaven-born and tireless lexicographer with a special fine feeling for the word. His infallible memory made it possible for him to know lots of historical, regional, household, and special realia behind the Russian lexicon. Sergey Ivanovich Ozhegov died on December 15, 1964 in Moscow. The funerary urn with his ashes was set in the necropolis wall of the Novodevichy Cemetery.


Tags: Linguists Philologists Sergey Ozhegov   

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