Jože Toporišič

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Jože Toporišič

Jože Toporišič (born October 11, 1926) is a leading Slovene linguist. He is the author of the most influential Slovene scientific grammar of the second half of the 20th Century, a member of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and coauthor of the Academy's Slovene Normative Guide (Slovene: Slovenski pravopis). In this position, he transformed the linguistic section of the academy into the central regulatory authority for codification of Slovene.


Toporišič was born in the village of Mostec[1] near Brežice in Slovenia, in what was then the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. During the Nazi occupation, his family was expelled from home and was resettled to Silesia, where they had to live between 1941 and 1945.

Upon returning to Yugoslavia, he studied Russian and Slavic philology in Ljubljana. In the early 1950s, he became a junior lecturer at the University of Zagreb, where he was influenced by the Prague school of structural linguistics. After returning to Slovenia in the early 1960s, he started teaching at the University of Ljubljana and became the founding father of modern Slovene linguistics.

As a leading personality of the newer generation of linguists, who brought an innovative and structural approach to the teaching of language, he was trusted by the educational authorities of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia to supervise the reform of language teaching in Slovenian schools from the late 1960s on. He was the author or co-author of several important textbooks, as well as the author of the most influential reference grammar of Slovene. His work has had an enormous influence in the development of modern Slovene language teaching.

In 1968, he worked as an assistant researcher at the University of Chicago. Later he was a guest lecturer at the universities of Hamburg, Regensburg, Klagenfurt, and Graz.

In addition to Slovene, he is fluent in German, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, and English; he also reads Polish and other Slavic languages.[2]

Views and opinions[edit]

Toporišič has insisted on strong codification of language use (especially in pronunciation) as opposed to regional features. He has frequently expressed his admiration for the language policy in France and has suggested that a similar legal regulation of language use be introduced in Slovenia. He is also well known as the inventor of several neologisms in Slovene. Due to this, the general public often attributes to him the authorship of every neologism that enters Slovene through the media or the educational system, although this is not always the case.

Toporišič has been often criticized for linguistic purism. He has frequently voiced his disagreement with journalists, politicians and other public figures who used words of foreign origin. In 2010, for example he criticized the Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor for using too many English interjections.

Toporišič has reiterated his conviction that a strong and centralized language policy is needed because of the extreme dialectal fragmentation of Slovene and the lack of a long and well-established tradition in the public use of Slovene.

Selected published works[edit]

  • Jože Toporišič, Enciklopedija slovenskega jezika (Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba, 1992)
  • Jože Toporišič, Slovenska slovnica (Maribor: Obzorja, 2002)
  • Jože Toporišič et al., Slovenski pravopis (Ljubljana : Znanstvenoraziskovalni center SAZU, 2007)


External links[edit]