Source of the picture:

Nikolai Sergeyevich Trubetzkoy (1890-1938)


  • European Structuralism, The Prague School

Research Interests

  • Phonology

Notable Ideas

  • clear distinction between phonetics and phonology




Trubetzkoy, professor of philosophy, was the son of a Russian prince. In 1913, after obtaining his degree from Moscow University, Trubetskoy enrolled at the University of Leipzig. He taught at Moscow University and at the universities of Rostov and Sofia. In 1922, he was appointed professor of Slavic Philology at the University of Vienna.

Contribution to Linguistics

Trubetzkoy was one of the leading phonologists of the Prague School of Linguistics.

In his most important work on phonology, GrundzŁge der Phonologie (1939; Principles of Phonology), he famously defined phoneme as the smallest distinctive unit within the structure of a given language. This work was crucial in establishing phonology as a discipline separate from phonetics.

Central Knowledge

  • Trubetzkoy decided on a functional definition of the term "phoneme" by distinguishing it from the "phone".

Main Publications

  • GrundzŁge der Phonologie. Travaux du Cercle Linguistique de Prague. 1939.

Categories: People