The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Whitney, William Dwight

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WHITNEY, William Dwight, an American philologist, brother of the preceding, born in Northampton, Mass., Feb. 9, 1827. He graduated at Williams college in 1845, and studied at Berlin and Tübingen from 1850 to 1853. At Berlin he transcribed from the manuscripts in the royal library the text of the Atharva-Veda, which he collated with manuscripts of the poem in Paris and England, and published in connection with Prof. Roth (8vo, Berlin, 1856); a second volume, containing translation, notes, &c., is in preparation (1876). In 1854 he was appointed professor of Sanskrit and comparative philology in Yale college, which chair he still occupies (1876). Since 1857 he has been corresponding secretary of the American oriental society, and one of the principal editors of its “Journal,” to which and to other periodicals, both English and German, he has contributed many papers on oriental and philological subjects. Among his more important contributions to the “Journal” are his translation, with notes, of the Sûrya-Siddhânta, a text book of Hindoo astronomy, and his editions of the Atharva-Veda Prâtiçâkhya and the Taittirîya Prâtiçâkhya, with commentaries, the last of which received the Bopp prize in 1870 from the Berlin academy; and his reviews of Lepsius's phonetic alphabet, and of the views of Biot, Weber, and Müller on the Hindoo and Chinese asterisms. Prof. Whitney gave assistance in the preparation of the last edition of Webster's dictionary (1864), and was one of the contributors to the Sanskrit dictionary published at St. Petersburg. He aided in founding the American philological association in 1869, and was its first president. He has also published “Language and the Study of Language” (New York, 1867; German translation, Munich, 1874); “A Compendious German Grammar” and “Reader” (2 vols., 1869); “Oriental and Linguistic Studies” (2 series, 1872-'4); and “Life and Growth of Language” (1875; French translation, Paris, 1875; German translation, Leipsic, 1876).