The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Whitney, William Dwight

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WHITNEY, William Dwight, American philologist, brother of J. D. Whitney (q.v): b. Northampton, Mass., 9 Feb. 1827; d. New Haven, 9 June 1894. He was graduated from Williams College in 1845, studied at Yale in 1849-50), and then went to Germany, where he continued his philological and Sanskrit studies under Bopp at Berlin and Roth at Tubingen. He was appointed to the professorship of Sanskrit at Yale in 1854, and in 1870 he received in addition the chair of comparative philology, posts which he retained till his death. In 1856 he published, with Roth, an edition of the Atharva-Veda Sanhita, and in 1862 issued at New Haven an edition, with translation and notes, of the ‘Atharva-Veda Prâtiçâkhya.’ His ‘Language and the Study of Language’ (1867) was an admirable exposition of the main principles of comparative philology. His other published works include ‘A Compendious German Grammar’ (1869); ‘A German Reader’ (1869); an edition of the ‘Taittiriya-Prâtiçâkhya’ (1872), for which he was awarded the Bopp medal of the Berlin Academy; ‘Oriental and Linguistic Studies’ (1872); ‘The Life and Growth of Language’ (1875); ‘Essentials of English Grammar’ (1877); ‘A Sanskrit Grammar’ (1879); ‘The Roots, Verb Forms, and Primary Derivatives of the Sanskrit Language’ (1885), a supplement to the grammar; ‘A Practical French Grammar’ (1886), etc. He was a contributor to Böhtlingk and Roth's great ‘Sanskrit Dictionary’ (1853-75) and editor-in-chief of ‘The Century Dictionary of the English Language’ (1889-91). He was elected a member of the American Oriental Society in 1850 and wrote more than half of the contents of Vols. 6-12 of the ‘Journal’ of that society. For a complete bibliography of his work, consult the 19th volume of the ‘Journal of the American Oriental Society’ (1897).