LANGUAGE FORTRESS OF IDENTITY: SANU member Predrag Piper, our eminent Slavic scholar, linguist and professor, has passed away

A PROMINENT Serbian Slavic scholar and linguist, academician and full professor at the University of Belgrade, Predrag Piper, has died at the age of 71.

LANGUAGE FORTRESS OF IDENTITY: SANU member Predrag Piper, our eminent Slavic scholar, linguist and professor, has passed away

Photo by D. Milovanović

He started primary school in his native Belgrade, which he finished in Sremska Kamenica, and high school in Novi Sad, where he then worked as an assistant for Russian phonetics. He then taught morphology, syntax, history of literary expression, and from 1989 he worked at the Faculty of Philology as an associate and then a full professor. He was the secretary of the language and literature department of SANU, a member of the presidency of SANU and several boards, a regular member of MANU, as a visiting professor he taught at universities in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Voronezh, Ivanovo, Seoul, Zadar, Nis, Skopje, Ljubljana.

He was the vice-president of the Editorial Board of the Serbian Encyclopedia, the editor-in-chief of the magazine “Južnoslovenski filolog” and the Collection of Matica Srpska for Slavic Studies, the organizer of several large international symposia. All the time, both in teaching and in science, he adhered to the principle that it is most effective if tradition intersects with new knowledge and practice. At Hankuk University, he introduced lectures in Slovenian and Macedonian into Korean university Slavic studies, and functional grammar at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad, when the world was just beginning to talk about it. He is the author of numerous studies and textbooks, including “Introduction to Slavic Studies”, “Language and Space”, “Serbian between Large and Small Languages”, “Grammar of the Russian Language in Comparison with Serbian”, “Linguistic Slavic Studies”, “Serbian in the Circle of Slavic language “…

Photo by Milena Anđela

Predrag Piper

Deeply believing in the importance and power of language, Piper said:

– Although we were without a state from the fall of Smederevo until the First Serbian Uprising, although we were subjects of two empires, and some other states, although, therefore, we did not have a ministry of education and culture, or any government – we still saved most people national self-esteem and awareness of the great past. We lived without a state, but in a fortress of faith and language, outside of which we would be left without a soul, and disappear.

For extremely rich and diverse scientific work, Piper received a number of recognitions and awards such as the Order of Friendship among Nations (Moscow), the Plaque of Honorary Member of the Bulgarian Russian Society (Sofia), the “Pavle Ivic” Award, the Golden Book of the Matica Srpska Library, the Golden diploma from the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad.

According to the wishes of the family, the funeral will be performed only in the circle of the closest ones.


I have been working with Academician Piper at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade for decades, and I can say with great regret that his departure represents an irreparable loss for our science, culture and education. He was extremely appreciated as a pedagogue who gave our education several generations of excellent professors and scientists, especially Russians and Serbs. Academician Piper was also highly esteemed in foreign scientific circles. With his books and papers presented at international scientific gatherings, he made a great contribution to the affirmation of our language and script – says prof. Dr. Radivoje Konstantinović.

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