Born in Basel, Thurneysen studied classical philology in Basel, Leipzig, Berlin and Paris. His teachers included Ernst Windisch and Heinrich Zimmer. He received his promotion (approximating to a doctorate) in 1879, and his habilitation, in Latin and Celtic languages, followed at the University of Jena in 1882.
From 1885 to 1887 he taught Latin at Jena, then taking up the Chair of Comparative Philology at the University of Freiburg-im-Breisgau where he replaced Karl Brugmann, a renowned expert in Indo-European linguistics.
In 1909 Thurneysen published his Handbuch des Alt-Irischen, translated into English as A Grammar of Old Irish by D. A. Binchy and Osborn Bergin, and still in print as of 2006. In 1913 he moved to Bonn University. It is in this period that Thurneysen has been called the greatest living authority on Old Irish.
- A grammar of Old Irish (translated by D. A. Binchy and Osborn Bergin), Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, reprinted 2003. ISBN 1-85500-161-6
- Old Irish reader (translated by D. A. Binchy and Osborn Bergin), Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, reprinted 1981. ISBN 0-901282-32-4
- Scéla mucce Meic Dathó, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, reprinted 2004. ISBN 1-85500-022-9
|German Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Thurneysen-Archiv der Keltologie Bonn
- Works by Thurneysen online at University College Cork's CELT project
- Select bibliography at University College Cork's CELT project
- (German) TITUS-Galeria: Pictures of Rudolf Thurneysen