In Memoriam Sasha Vovin

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Ross Bender

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Apr 9, 2022, 10:00:24 PMApr 9
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Dear all,

I just received the sad news from Sambi, Vovin's wife, that Sasha passed away yesterday. Although I only met him once, in Hawaii, he was a great encouragement to me in my research, and in my translations of the Old Japanese senmyō over the years. 

Left unfinished is his translation of Man'yōshū, of which he published volumes 1, 2, 5, and 14-20. In my opinion it is the best source for the study of Old Japanese, for which there is as yet no text book. 

In Honolulu I gave him a copy of the linguistic thriller novel Kolymsky Heights, by Lionel Davidson.The protagonist was Johnny Porter, Gitskan from the Skeena River area of British Columbia, who knew all the languages. In the book he travels to Japan, from which he takes a Korean ship to Siberia. There he is able to communicate in Chukchi and Nivkh and other Siberian languages.. Eventually he escapes by crossing the Bering Strait. Sasha reminded me of Johnny.

Sasha was feisty and argumentative, but extremely warm and helpful to many who knew him. Attached is part of a biography by John Kupchik, one of his many students, from a festschrift in his honor: Studies in Asian Historical Linguistics, Philology, and Beyond, edited by Kupchik, Jose Andres Alonso de la Fuente, and Marc Hideo Miyake (Brill, 2021)

Sincerely,
Ross Bender


Kupchik - Biography of Alexander Vovin.docx

Ivan Rumánek

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Apr 10, 2022, 3:35:16 AMApr 10
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Oh this is very sad news!
RIP

Ivan Rumánek

Bez virů. www.avast.com

ne 10. 4. 2022 o 4:00 Ross Bender <rosslyn...@gmail.com> napísal(a):
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萬井 良大

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Apr 10, 2022, 3:35:24 AMApr 10
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I have got so shocked to hear the sad news. I had always enjoyed reading
his contributions on this mailing list. May he rest in peace.

My condolence,
Yoshihiro Man'i



On 2022/04/10 10:43, Ross Bender wrote:
> Dear all,
>
> I just received the sad news from Sambi, Vovin's wife, that Sasha passed
> away yesterday. Although I only met him once, in Hawaii, he was a great
> encouragement to me in my research, and in my translations of the Old
> Japanese /senmy/ō over the years.
>
> Left unfinished is his translation of /Man'y/ō/sh/ū, of which he
> published volumes 1, 2, 5, and 14-20. In my opinion it is the best
> source for the study of Old Japanese, for which there is as yet no text
> book.
>
> In Honolulu I gave him a copy of the linguistic thriller novel /Kolymsky
> Heights/, by Lionel Davidson.The protagonist was Johnny Porter, Gitskan
> from the Skeena River area of British Columbia, who knew all the
> languages. In the book he travels to Japan, from which he takes a Korean
> ship to Siberia. There he is able to communicate in Chukchi and Nivkh
> and other Siberian languages.. Eventually he escapes by crossing the
> Bering Strait. Sasha reminded me of Johnny.
>
> Sasha was feisty and argumentative, but extremely warm and helpful to
> many who knew him. Attached is part of a biography by John Kupchik, one
> of his many students, from a festschrift in his honor: /Studies in Asian
> Historical Linguistics, Philology, and Beyond/, edited by Kupchik, Jose
> Andres Alonso de la Fuente, and Marc Hideo Miyake (Brill, 2021)
>
> Sincerely,
> Ross Bender
> https://upenn.academia.edu/RossBender
> <https://upenn.academia.edu/RossBender>
>
>
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mariachiar...@unisalento.it

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Apr 10, 2022, 3:36:22 AMApr 10
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I have been deeply saddened at the terrible news of Sasha Vovin untimely passing, a great loss for our community. He was a wonferful scholar and a generous colleague. 


Maria Chiara Migliore

Associate Professor

Department of Humanities 

University of Salento 
Piazzetta Rizzo, 1
73100 Lecce, Italy

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<Kupchik - Biography of Alexander Vovin.docx>


Jiang Wu

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Apr 10, 2022, 10:26:25 AMApr 10
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Sorry to hear that. He is a great scholar.

Jiang Wu


From: pm...@googlegroups.com <pm...@googlegroups.com> on behalf of mariachiar...@unisalento.it <mariachiar...@unisalento.it>
Sent: Sunday, April 10, 2022 12:35:36 AM
To: pm...@googlegroups.com <pm...@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: [PMJS] In Memoriam Sasha Vovin
 

William Farris

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Apr 10, 2022, 11:29:36 AMApr 10
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Dear all:
          I was shocked to learn of the passing of Sasha Vovin this morning.
          He was my colleague at UH and although our paths did not cross often, I thought his scholarship was of the highest caliber.
          He loved traveling to ruins in Turkey and Italy.
          He will be sorely missed.
With kind regards,
Wayne

er...@ku.edu

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Apr 10, 2022, 11:59:20 AMApr 10
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Sasha's passing is a real loss.  I took kanbun / classical Chinese with him when he was teaching at the University of Michigan, and I remember a talk that he gave on proto-Ainu that was completely above my head, but he was always generous with his time then and helped me recently too with some questions.  He was a brilliant light.

Eric Rath
University of Kansas

Charles De Wolf

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Apr 10, 2022, 10:59:37 PMApr 10
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The news of Sasha Vovin’s passing is indeed such a shock…He was not only a brilliant scholar, a linguist’s linguist, but also a kind and patient explainer, and in our recent correspondence, I humbly thanked him for that. He rekindled my interest in the knotty question of how the non-Sinitic languages of East Asia are or are not genetically related and added to my (by comparison, most modest) knowledge. It’s all very sad, but his accomplishments will remain. 

Charles De Wolf
Japan





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Raji Steineck

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Apr 11, 2022, 4:21:47 AMApr 11
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Indeed, this is truly sad news. Even though I have no recollections of personal interaction with Sasha Vovin to offer, I have always admired his contributions to the field and profited from the vast knowledge he generously shared, not least on this list. I hope those he offended with his sometimes pugnacious rhetoric can let these matters, and Sasha Vovin, rest in peace, and cherish, as I do, the memory of the great scholar that he was.

Raji Steineck

Prof. Dr. Raji C. Steineck
Japanologie, Asien-Orient-Institut
Universität Zürich
Zürichbergstrasse 4
8032 Zürich
Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera


Von: 'Charles De Wolf' via PMJS: Listserv <pm...@googlegroups.com>
Gesendet: Montag, 11. April 2022 04:36
An: pm...@googlegroups.com <pm...@googlegroups.com>
Betreff: Re: [PMJS] Re: In Memoriam Sasha Vovin
 

Scheid, Bernhard

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Apr 11, 2022, 8:32:43 AMApr 11
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I would like to thank Ross for posting this and also John Kupchik (unknown to me) for explaining the biographical background of Sasha’s work. Fortunately, I was able to talk to Sasha years ago when he followed an invitation to Vienna and we talked a lot on both Japanese history and private chat, but as regards his youth in Russia, he just remarked that he would never go back to that country again. I never knew, why… Too sad that there was no opportunity to learn more from himself.

 

Bernhard

 

***************

 

Dr. Bernhard Scheid

 

Austrian Academy of Sciences

Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia

Hollandstrasse 11-13, 1020 Vienna, Austria

 

https://www.oeaw.ac.at/ikga/team/forschung/scheid-bernhard

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Kyoko Sano

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Apr 12, 2022, 5:07:32 AMApr 12
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I am so sad to hear the news.
My ph.D. work benefitted so much from his work.

Sincerely,
Kyoko Sano



Małgorzata Citko-DuPlantis

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Apr 12, 2022, 1:54:34 PMApr 12
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Dear All,

I'll miss hearing of Sasha and his various endeavors. I've learned a lot from him directly and also from his publications; above anything else, I owe him my fascination with Man'yōshū
My thoughts go out to his family and especially his children. 
I'm thinking of the last words in the opening passage of Heike monogatari: "(...) all are dust before the wind," per Watson's & Shirane's translation. 

Best,

Gosia Citko-DuPlantis
  




--
Małgorzata (Gosia) Citko-DuPlantis, PhD 
Lecturer in Japanese at Texas State University
Department of World Languages and Literatures: https://www.worldlang.txstate.edu/ 


James Scanlon-Canegata

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Apr 15, 2022, 3:39:35 PMApr 15
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Dear All,

I wanted to contribute some brief sentiments on Sasha's passing.

I was fortunate to call Sasha Vovin a teacher, mentor, and a friend. I met Sasha at the University of Hawaii where he introduced me to Classical Japanese and historical linguistics, a field he jokingly referred to as the “dark side.”

Sasha was a dedicated and supportive advisor, always giving generously of his time to his students; I can recall weekends and evenings after his seminars, talking over articles, research, or just cold-reading uta from the Man’yōshū or Kiki kayō. He was deeply dedicated to his scholarship and this dedication extended to the great care he took in his teaching and advising, and the meaningful relationships he forged with his students. I can say I grew immensely in the years I spent as Sasha’s advisee, and I have continuously benefitted from his training in my studies as a literature PhD, something I am forever grateful to him for. It is truly regrettable to lose him so prematurely.

This was one of Sasha's favorite poems from the Man'yōshū,

A poem on thinking of one's children by Yamanoue no okura, MYS 5.802:

瓜食めば 子ども思ほゆ 栗食めば まして偲はゆ いづくより 来りしものぞ まなかひに もとなかかりて 安寐し寝なさぬ
uri pameba / kwo-domo omopoyu / kuri pameba masite sinwopa-yu / iduku ywori ki-tari-si mono so / manakapi ni motona kakarite / yasui si nasa-nu

When I eat melon, I cannot help thinking of my children
When I eat chestnuts, I long even more for them
Where did you come from? Hovering before my eyes for no reason
Not letting me sleep easily

(Vovin trans.)

With best regards,

James

Pinnington, Noel J - (noelp)

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Apr 15, 2022, 6:33:36 PMApr 15
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I want to just add my two cents mourning Prof. Vovin’s passing. 

I often found myself asking questions of Professor Vovin during some notable discussions of poems and of older language. As some long term members of PMJS may recall, occasionally my obtuseness pushed him to the point where he would sharply reprove me. However, I always regarded this irascibility as a lovable and human aspect of his character, in fact I enjoyed it. For his part, he never held our spats against me, and on a fairly recent occasion, when we had an extended phone call, I was struck afresh by his decent and altogether uncalculating nature. 

I shall certainly miss his presence in the world.

Sent from my iPad

On Apr 15, 2022, at 13:39, James Scanlon-Canegata <james.scanl...@yale.edu> wrote:



External Email

Claire-Akiko Brisset

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Apr 19, 2022, 9:46:12 AMApr 19
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Dear colleagues, 

If I may, below is the obituary written (in French) by Prof. Guillaume Carré, from the EHESS where Sacha worked. I had  personally the pleasure to attend to his first seminar when he came to Paris en 2014, and it was indeed an impressive experience.

*****
C’est avec une profonde tristesse que nous vous faisons part de la disparition d'Alexander (Sacha) Vovin, directeur d'études à l’EHESS.
Né en 1961, Sacha avait été formé à la linguistique et aux études orientales dans le cadre des solides traditions académiques de Saint-Pétersbourg. A part lui, nul sans doute ne connaissait le nombre exact de langues, contemporaines ou anciennes, qu'il maîtrisait. Spécialiste mondialement connu des langues turciques, toungouses, mongoliques, coréenne, japonaise, ou encore de l'aïnou, il avait pendant plusieurs années enseigné au département de langues et littératures de l’Asie Orientale de l’Université d’Hawaii, avant de rejoindre le Centre de recherches linguistiques sur l’Asie orientale (CRLAO) de l'EHESS en 2014. Encore récemment, ses compétences hors du commun ont été d'un grand secours dans le déchiffrement des stèles de Khüis Tolgoi et de Bugut, avec pour résultat de faire remonter de sept siècles nos connaissances sur l'évolution des langues mongoliques.
Parmi ses nombreuses contributions aux études japonaises, retenons avant tout sa traduction annotée de l’anthologie de poésie ancienne du Man’yōshū, restée malheureusement inachevée, mais dont les 11 premiers volumes publiés par Brill ont connu un retentissement international. En s'appuyant sur sa connaissance des langues aïnoues, Alexander Vovin a en particulier proposé une approche inédite et convaincante des azuma-uta, ces poèmes de l'est de Honshū posant de nombreux problèmes philologiques, et il a ouvert ainsi des perspectives novatrices tant aux linguistes qu'aux amateurs de littérature japonaise ancienne. 
Personnalité attachante et chaleureuse, aussi démesuré dans son savoir que simple et franc dans les rapports humains, Sacha était l'exemple même de ce que la tradition savante russe peut produire de meilleur et de plus impressionnant. Il laisse à ceux qui l'ont connu le souvenir d'une ampleur de vue exceptionnelle, d'une rigueur scientifique sans faille, d'une intégrité lucide et exigeante, et d'une bonhomie que nous regretterons toujours.

Guillaume Carré
Centre de recherches sur le Japon
EHESS


****

Best wishes,

Claire
--
Claire-Akiko Brisset
PO histoire culturelle du Japon
département ESTAS
Faculté des lettres
Université de Genève




Tokita Alison

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Apr 19, 2022, 10:47:53 AMApr 19
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Dear Claire

Thank you very much  for sharing this lovely piece about Sasha.
I was privileged to live next to him and Sanbi, Svetlana / Sophia, and little Yasha at Nichibunken in 2008. (I will always remember Svetlana's chick pea salad with coriander and walnuts!) Sasha was really hospitable, and on one cold autumn day he took a few of us in a hired car to tour Manyoshu sites in Nara Prefecture, with learned commentaries all the way. He was so generous but also incisive, and at times abrasive. His presence on PMJS since then has always been stimulating and illuminating. He is unforgettable, and will be missed by many.

Alison McQueen Tokita, PhD
Guest Professor, Kyoto City University of Arts
Adjunct Researcher, Monash University


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