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Calvert Watkins (//; March 13, 1933 – March 20, 2013) was an American linguist and philologist. He is best known for his Magnum opus How to Kill a Dragon. He was Professor Emeritus of linguistics and the classics at Harvard University and later went to serve as the professor-in-residence at UCLA.
His doctoral dissertation, Indo-European Origins of the Celtic Verb I. The Sigmatic Aorist (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1962), which deeply reflected the structuralist approach of Jerzy Kuryłowicz, opened a fresh era of creative work in Celtic comparative linguistics and the study of the verbal system of Indo-European languages.
Watkins, in a sense, completed his contribution to this area with his Indogermanische Grammatik III/1: Geschichte der Indogermanischen Verbalflexion (1969). Meanwhile, his work on Indo-European vocabulary and poetics yielded a large number of articles on (among others) Celtic, Anatolian, Greek, Italic and Indo-Iranian material, presented most thoroughly in his book, How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics (Oxford University Press, 1995).
He contributed his expertise on Indo-European languages to the first edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and edited The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots (ISBN 0-618-08250-6).
- Works by or about Calvert Watkins in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Essay by Calvert Watkins on Indo-European, from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
- How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics, limited preview