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Pott was a theology student at the University of Göttingen, where he became interested in philology. He became s schoolmaster in Celle, but completed his doctoral dissertation in 1827 and went to the University of Berlin to study with Franz Bopp, an important pioneer in Indo-European linguistics. He became an unsalaried lecturer in general linguistics there in 1830 and became the professor of general linguistics at the University of Halle in 1833, where he remained for the rest of his life.
His works, notably Etymologische Forschungen (1834–1836), established the modern etymological studies on the basis of the correspondence of sounds occurring in related words in the Indo-European languages. He is also considered the nineteenth century's most important philologist of Romany, the language of the Gypsies.