Gerhard Rohlfs

This article is about the linguist. For the geographer exploring Africa, see Friedrich Gerhard Rohlfs.

Gerhard Rohlfs (Berlin-Lichterfelde, July 14, 1892 – Tübingen, September 12, 1986) was a German linguist. He taught Romance languages and literature at the universities of Tübingen and Munich in Germany. He was described as an "archeologist of words".


Rohlfs was born in Berlin. His main interest was the languages and dialects spoken in Southern Italy and he travelled extensively in this region. He studied the Griko language (a Greek dialect still spoken in a few places in Salento and in south Calabria) and found several indications suggesting that Griko is a direct descendant of the language originally spoken by the Greek colonists of Magna Grecia. He first advanced this theory in his book Griechen und Romanen in Unteritalien (1924). He also published two complete vocabularies of the dialects spoken in Bovesia (1938-1939) and in Salento (1956-1961).

His main work is considered to be his Historical Grammar of the Italian Language and its Dialects (Historische Grammatik der italienischen Sprache und ihrer Mundarten, 1949-1954). He received honorary degrees from the University of Calabria in Cosenza and the University of Salento in Lecce.

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