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Alexander Militarev (Russian: Алекса́ндр Ю́рьевич Милитарёв; born January 14, 1943) is a Russian scholar of Semitic, Berber, Canarian and Afroasiatic (Afrasian, Semito-Hamitic) languages, comparative-historical linguistics, Jewish and Bible studies.

Linguistic studies

As a linguist, Militarev is particularly known for his novel and disputable genealogical classification of the said linguistic entities relying on lexicostatistics; for the chronology of their branching relying on Sergei Starostin’s method in glottochronology; and for his endeavor to build up a comprehensive picture of the West Asian Early Neolithic society with its material and intellectual culture based on the reconstructed and dated common Afrasian lexicon.

Militarev authors five books and around a hundred twenty publications on a wide range of linguistic, historical, Jewish and biblical subjects. He is a grandson of Solomon Maizel (1900-1952), a prominent Russian orientalist, linguist and polyglot, expert in comparative Semitic, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish and Iranian; Maizel’s working draft of his second dissertation “Пути развития корневого фонда семитских языков” (“Ways of Root Derivation in Semitic”) was published in 1983 by Militarev with his introduction, supplements and glossary (in Russian). Militarev was a co-worker of outstanding Russian and international scholars Igor Diakonoff and Sergei Starostin and considers himself their continuator and informal disciple.

Multiple research projects headed by Militarev have been supported by various Russian and US foundations. In 2006, he was nominated by a group of US, European and Russian professors for the Holberg International Memorial Prize. Full professor (since 2004) of the Institute of Oriental and Classic Studies, Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow, Militarev is now a consulting professor at the same Institute. In 2005-2008, professor at the Dept. of Jewish Studies, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Moscow State Lomonosov University. In 1994-2009, he was elected for four consecutive terms president of the Jewish University in Moscow (in 2002-2009, renamed into Shimon Dubnov Advanced School in the Humanities). Militarev has run the Afrasian section of the Evolution of Human Languages (EHL) project at the Santa Fe Institute. He has been a guest lecturer in top European, US, and Israeli universities and research centers. Militarev is a founding member of the International Association for Comparative Semitics (Barcelona).

Militarev is the leading linguistic proponent of the Levantine origin for Afrasian (“Levant theory”, opposed to Afroasiatic Urheimat in Northeast Africa theory proposed by Christopher Ehret, Roger Blench and others) linking the proto-Afrasian speakers to the Levantine Natufian culture. He co-authors with Leonid Kogan two volumes of the ground-breaking Semitic Etymological Dictionary, which received highly favorable reviews. Militarev also compiled the genealogical tree of world languages, including tentative dates of their branching obtained glottochronologically, based on research by the Moscow School of Comparative Linguistics including his own research on Afrasian dated by him to the 10th millennium B.C.E. He initiated interdisciplinary meetings of historical linguists, archaeologists, pre-historians, and anthropologists by convening in Moscow national and international conferences “Linguistic Reconstruction and Prehistory of the East” (1984 and 1989), which triggered a series of international conferences, more recently involving geneticists, targeting the problems of prehistoric chronology, human migrations, correlation of homelands of the speakers of proto-languages with certain archaeological cultures, and dispersal of cultural innovations.

In the most recent studies, Militarev has obtained an earlier date for Proto-Afrasian, namely the mid-11th millennium B.C.E., which is supposed to be more grounded, as this time his lexicostatistical and glottochronological analysis of 100 most stable words of Swadesh list was applied to many more (170) languages representing all Afrasian branches, groups and subgroups, and consistently includes the etymological background of every item whenever possible. In Militarev's scenario, Proto-Afrasian split into South Afrasian, diverging in the 9th millennium into Cushitic and Omotic (with controversial Ongota a separate sub-branch of the latter) and North Afrasian splitting also in the 9th millennium into Semitic and North African Afrasian falling in the early 7th millennium into Egyptian and Chadic-Berber diverging into Chadic and Berber-Canarian in the late 6th millennium. His updated analysis of 100-word standard Swadesh list applied to over 30 Semitic languages mainly corroborated his previous unorthodox genealogical classification according to which Proto-Semitic split between 4,800-4,700 B.C.E. into South Semitic (represented by Modern South Arabian) and North Semitic falling about a thousand years later into Akkadian and West Semitic branching in early 3rd millennium B.C.E. into Proto-Ethiopian (dividing on the verge

As a linguist, Militarev is particularly known for his novel and disputable genealogical classification of the said linguistic entities relying on lexicostatistics; for the chronology of their branching relying on Sergei Starostin’s method in glottochronology; and for his endeavor to build up a comprehensive picture of the West Asian Early Neolithic society with its material and intellectual culture based on the reconstructed and dated common Afrasian lexicon.

Militarev authors five books and around a hundred twenty publications on a wide range of linguistic, historical, Jewish and biblical subjects. He is a grandson of Solomon Maizel (1900-1952), a prominent Russian orientalist, linguist and polyglot, expert in comparative Semitic, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish and Iranian; Maizel’s working draft of his second dissertation “Пути развития корневого фонда семитских языков” (“Ways of Root Derivation in Semitic”) was published in 1983 by Militarev with his introduction, supplements and glossary (in Russian). Militarev was a co-worker of outstanding Russian and international scholars Igor Diakonoff and Sergei Starostin and considers himself their continuator and informal disciple.

Multiple research projects headed by Militarev have been supported by various Russian and US foundations. In 2006, he was nominated by a group of US, European and Russian professors for the Holberg International Memorial Prize. Full professor (since 2004) of the Institute of Oriental and Classic Studies, Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow, Militarev is now a consulting professor at the same Institute. In 2005-2008, professor at the Dept. of Jewish Studies, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Moscow State Lomonosov University. In 1994-2009, he was elected for four consecutive terms president of the Jewish University in Moscow (in 2002-2009, renamed into Shimon Dubnov Advanced School in the Humanities). Militarev has run the Afrasian section of the Evolution of Human Languages (EHL) project at the Santa Fe Institute. He has been a guest lecturer in top European, US, and Israeli universitie

Militarev authors five books and around a hundred twenty publications on a wide range of linguistic, historical, Jewish and biblical subjects. He is a grandson of Solomon Maizel (1900-1952), a prominent Russian orientalist, linguist and polyglot, expert in comparative Semitic, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish and Iranian; Maizel’s working draft of his second dissertation “Пути развития корневого фонда семитских языков” (“Ways of Root Derivation in Semitic”) was published in 1983 by Militarev with his introduction, supplements and glossary (in Russian). Militarev was a co-worker of outstanding Russian and international scholars Igor Diakonoff and Sergei Starostin and considers himself their continuator and informal disciple.

Multiple research projects headed by Militarev have been supported by various Russian and US foundations. In 2006, he was nominated by a group of US, European and Russian professors for the Holberg International Memorial Prize. Full professor (since 2004) of the Institute of Oriental and Classic Studies, Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow, Militarev is now a consulting professor at the same Institute. In 2005-2008, professor at the Dept. of Jewish Studies, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Moscow State Lomonosov University. In 1994-2009, he was elected for four consecutive terms president of the Jewish University in Moscow (in 2002-2009, renamed into Shimon Dubnov Advanced School in the Humanities). Militarev has run the Afrasian section of the Evolution of Human Languages (EHL) project at the Santa Fe Institute. He has been a guest lecturer in top European, US, and Israeli universities and research centers. Militarev is a founding member of the International Association for Comparative Semitics (Barcelona).

Militarev is the leading linguistic proponent of the Levantine origin for Afrasian (“Levant theory”, opposed to Afroasiatic Urheimat in Northeast Africa theory proposed by Christopher Ehret, Roger Blench and others) linking the proto-Afrasian speakers to the Levantine Natufian culture. He co-authors with Leonid Kogan two volumes of the ground-breaking Semitic Etymological Dictionary, which received highly favorable reviews. Militarev also compiled the genealogical tree of world languages, including tentative dates of their branching obtained glottochronologically, based on research by the Moscow School of Comparative Linguistics including his own research on Afrasian dated by him to the 10th millennium B.C.E. He initiated interdisciplinary meetings of historical linguists, archaeologists, pre-historians, and anthropologists by convening in Moscow national and international conferences “Linguistic Reconstruction and Prehistory of the East” (1984 and 1989), which triggered a series of international conferences, more recently involving geneticists, targeting the problems of prehistoric chronology, human migrations, correlation of homelands of the speakers of proto-languages with certain archaeological cultures, and dispersal of cultural innovations.

In the most recent studies, Militarev has obtained an earlier date for Proto-Afrasian, namely the mid-11th millennium B.C.E., which is supposed to be more grounded, as this time his lexicostatistical and glottochronological analysis of 100 most stable words of Swadesh list was applied to many more (170) languages representing all Afrasian branches, groups and subgroups, and consistently includes the etymological background of every item whenever possible. In Militarev's scenario, Proto-Afrasian split into South Afrasian, diverging in the 9th millennium into Cushitic and Omotic (with controversial Ongota a separate sub-branch of the latter) and North Afrasian splitting also in the 9th millennium into Semitic and North African Afrasian falling in the early 7th millennium into Egyptian and Chadic-Berber diverging into Chadic and Berber-Canarian in the late 6th millennium. His updated analysis of 100-word standard Swadesh list applied to over 30 Semitic languages mainly corroborated his previous unorthodox genealogical classification according to which Proto-Semitic split between 4,800-4,700 B.C.E. into South Semitic (represented by Modern South Arabian) and North Semitic falling about a thousand years later into Akkadian and West Semitic branching in early 3rd millennium B.C.E. into Proto-Ethiopian (dividing on the verge of 2nd and 1st millennia B.C.E. into North and South Ethiopian), Proto-Arabic, and Proto-Levantine falling between 2,400 and 2,300 B.C.E. into Ugaritic and South Levantine branching on the verge of 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C.E. into Aramaic, Epigraphic South Arabian (represented in the analysis by Sabaic) and Canaanite represented by Hebrew and Phoenician separated between 15th and 14th centuries B.C.E. Militarev conjectures that the dates obtained may be compatible with both the known historical events, archaeological dating and even internal biblical chronology.

While Militarev’s works on linguistic subjects are widely quoted and discussed in both professional and amateur milieux, his book “The Jewish Conundrum in World History” (Academic Studies Press. Boston, 2010) passed nearly unnoticed though, in the annotation, it received a high appraisal from two top American experts in Jewish studies:

"This remarkable and thought-provoking work, by one of the leading figures in the scholarly revival of Jewish studies in the former Soviet Union is a sustained reflection on the course of Jewish history and of the impact of the Jews over the past millennia on wider developments. It is one of the most fascinating reflecti

"This remarkable and thought-provoking work, by one of the leading figures in the scholarly revival of Jewish studies in the former Soviet Union is a sustained reflection on the course of Jewish history and of the impact of the Jews over the past millennia on wider developments. It is one of the most fascinating reflections on this vital topic to appear in recent times." Antony Polonsky, Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies, Brandeis University and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

"A Russian-educated linguist and cultural anthropologist, Alexander Militarev offers in this elegantly written study a novel approach to address the “conundrum” posed by the prominence of the Jews in the unfolding of humanistic cosmopolitan culture. With prodigious erudition, yet with manifest humanity and no small measure of humor, he probes the deep structures of what he calls the “Adamic universalism” inscribed in the biblical lexicon and worldview and which, he argues, continue to inform the cognitive reflexes and ethical sensibilities of Jewish intellectuals." Paul Mendes-Flohr, Professor of Modern Jewish Thought, Divinity School, The University of Chicago and Professor Emeritus, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Apart from scholarly subjects, Militarev authors three books of poetry in Russian and translations of poetry from English and Spanish into Russian (by Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Miguel Hernandez and other poets). He also translated into Russian 54 Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Selected works

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