Antoine Meillet

Paul Jules Antoine Meillet ( born November 11, 1866 in Moulins, Allier, † September 21, 1936 in Châteaumeillant, Département Cher ) is considered one of the most important French linguists of the early 20th century.


Meillet studied at the Sorbonne, where he was influenced by Michel Bréal, Ferdinand de Saussure, and the members of the Année Sociologique. In 1890, he participated in a research trip to the Caucasus, where he studied Armenian. After his return he continued his studies with de Saussure.

His dissertation of 1897 dealt with the use of the genitive - accusative in Old Slavic. In 1902 he was appointed Professor of Armenian at the École des langues orientales. In 1905 he became a professor at the Collège de France, where he taught history and structure of the Indo-European languages.

Today we recall Meillet as the mentor of a whole generation of linguists and philologists, which occupy a central position in the French 20th-century science, such as Émile Benveniste, Georges Dumézil, André Martinet and Joseph Vendryes.