Olga Spevak#

Short laudatio by Harm Pinkster#

Olga Spevak is a relatively young scholar, who after her studies in the Czech Republic, emigrated to France, where she rapidly finished her thesis, found a job at the University of Toulouse, did her ‘Habilitation’ and continued publishing in first grade international journals and with outstanding publishers. She is definitely one of the leading scholars in her generation and undoubtedly deserves a position as full professor in one of the French universities (which is not so easy since professorial positions are being cut dramatically and – even naturalised – foreigners have a bad chance in the ‘concours’).

Her dissertation on Concessive clauses is an eminent piece of work. Olga Spevak succeeds in integrating modern insights in the nature of concessive clauses from a comparative (typological) point of view with a study of the history of concessive expressions in Latin. The results are original and will change the way these clauses are standardly described henceforth in our manuals.

Her work on the Czech humanist Balbín is the outcome of her doctoral studies in Prague. The assessment of his work in the Classical tradition is exemplary and the edition will no doubt play an important role in the study of the humanist period in that area of Europe.

The work on Constituent Order in Latin is an outstanding piece of scholarship in one of the most debated and most difficult areas of Latin Linguistics. Latin Word Order has been a point of interest for latinists, romanists, and linguists in general for more than thirty years. This is the only study in which insights in pragmatics have been exploited in a systematic way and with the incorporation of sufficiently abundant and varied material from ancient texts. Other recent works do not bear comparison with Spevak’s in the completeness and broadness with which the data are taken into account.

The last field of research so far is Isidore of Sevilla. The edition with commentary of book 14 of his Etymologies (in press) is the result of detailed work on what can best be described as a minefield. Reconstructing the knowledge that remained from Antiquity, not always well understood by St Isidore himself and certainly not by the people who transmitted the text, but which played an important role in the European scholarly history, is an intriguing adventure in which Dr Spevak has succeeded excellently. The manuscript tradition is extremely complicated and this edition represents a clear step forward.



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