Valdis Zeps

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Dr. Valdis Juris Zeps (May 29, 1932 in Daugavpils, Latvia – July 25, 1996 in Riga, Latvia) was a Latvian-American linguist and college professor.

Early life and family[edit]

His parents, Jazeps and Anna Zeps, were World War II refugees. In 1944, he fled the Russian occupation of Latvia with his parents and brother, Aivars Zeps. They arrived first in the displaced persons camp of Lubeck, Germany, then, after receiving sponsorship, arrived in the United States in 1949.

Valdis married Betty Reel Shuford, a costume designer, in 1957. Their children are Dace, Valdis, Barbara, and William; grandchildren, Sandra, Andrew, Guntis, Monika, and Leo; great grandchild, William.


Valdis studied at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and received his doctorate in linguistics and sociology from Indiana University in Bloomington in 1961. He became a professor of linguistics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1963. In addition to writing Ķēves dēls Kurbads (partial text at [1], under the pseudonym Jānis Turbads, he was widely published, in over 130 publications and journals, on such topics as Latvian folksong metrics, the Latvian language, and Latgalian exile literature. In 1994, he published The placenames of Latgola: A dictionary of East Latvian toponyms.



  • Folk Meter and Latvian Verse [2] in Lituanus. 18:2 (1972) pg. 10–26.
  • Is Slavic a West Baltic Language? [3] in General Linguistics. (1985) pg. 213–222.[4].
  • What’s Instant Coffee in Latvian? [5] in Lituanus 33:3 (1987) pg. 25–36.


  • Phoneme subsystems and correspondences in Cheremis dialects, 1960
  • Concordance and Thesaurus of Cheremis Poetic Language (Janua Linguarum) with Thomas A. Sebeok, 1961
  • Latvian and Finnic linguistic convergences (Indiana University publication. Uralic and Altaic series), 1962
  • The placenames of Latgola: A dictionary of East Latvian toponyms (Wisconsin Baltic studies)'.' 1984