The Nostratic seminar, named after Vladislav M. Illich-Svitych, is a research seminar devoted to both particular and global issues of comparative historical linguistics and related disciplines.The history of the Seminar goes back to the 1960s, being closely related to the emergence of Nostratic linguistics – the theory of a single "Nostratic" linguistic ancestor of six large language families of the Old World – as a serious sub-branch of historical linguistics. The development of Nostratic studies could not actually take place without close and constant cooperation between specialists in different languages. For this purpose, researchers from several academic institutes of the USSR Academy of Sciences – the Institute of Slavic Studies, the Institute of Oriental Studies, etc. – under the leadership of Vladimir Dybo and Aharon Dolgopolsky organized the Seminar, which received its name in memory of the untimely deceased Russian linguist Vladislav Illich-Svitych (1934-1966), the founder of Nostratic research in modern comparative linguistics. For most of the Soviet period, the Seminar functioned on an informal basis, since Nostratic research was not welcomed by official linguistics. However, it was during this period, largely due to the activities of the Seminar, that the so-called “Moscow School of Comparative Linguistics” finally took shape – the school, whose distinctive feature is the application of the classical comparative historical method not only to relatively young language families, but also to “macrofamilies” – enormous linguistic unities whose common ancestors are reconstructed at chronological depths of 10, 12 thousand years or even more. Among those who gave talks at the seminar are such outstanding Russian linguists as Sergei Starostin (1953-2005), Eugene Helimski (1950-2007), Mikhail Alekseev (1949-2014), Anna Dybo, Oleg Mudrak, Ilia Peiros, Yakov Testelets and many others. From 1992 to 2018 the seminar functioned within the walls of the Russian State University for the Humanities – organized first by the Department of Comparative Historical Linguistics of the Faculty of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, then, since 1999, by the Center for Comparative Linguistics of the Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies. Since 2018, the Seminar continues its work within the framework of the Center for Comparative Studies and Phylogenetics of the Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies of HSE University.
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