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Ignác Kúnos 

(1860-1945)

Turkologist, Writer

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Ignác Kúnos (22 September 1860, Hungary - 12 January 1945, Budapest, Hungary), correspondent member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungarian linguist, Turcologist, folklorist. He was one of the best known scholars of Turkish folk literature and Turkish dialectology at that time.


He attended the Reform College in Debrecen, then studied linguistics at the University of Budapest from 1879-1882. With the financial support of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Budapest Jewish community, he spent five years in Istanbul studying Turkish language and culture. In 1890, he was appointed as a professor of Turkish philology at the University of Budapest. Between 1899-1919, he was the director of the newly organized East Trade College in Budapest. From 1919 to 1922, he held the same post at the Eastern Institute integrated into Budapest University of Economics, and then from 1922 he taught Turkish at the university. In the summer of 1925 and 1926, he was invited by the Turkish government and worked as a professor at Ankara and Istanbul Universities. He also founded the Department of Folklore at Istanbul University in 1925. He died during the Soviet siege of Budapest.


In the beginning of his career, he focused on the dialectology, phonological and morphological issues of the Hungarian language as well as the Mordvinic languages. As a student of Ármin Vámbéry, his interest was in Turkish language and philology. During his stay in Constantinople from 1885 to 1890, he traveled to Rumeli, Anatolia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. During his trip, he observed and studied the characteristics of Turkish dialects, ethnography, folk poetry and folk customs of Turkish and other local peoples. Its most important value is that it has collected an impressive amount of folk tales and anecdotes published in Hungarian and many other European languages.


As acknowledgment of his scientific results, he was elected as a correspondent member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, but was also vice president of the International Research Association for Central and East Asia.