|The materials in this collection were retrieved and digitised by Sascha Völlmin at the Department of Linguistics at Zurich where they had been donated by the recorder, Professor Scheller. Their addition in PARADISEC was made possible through the cooperation and support of Balthasar Bickel, Mathias Jenyn and Sascha Völlmin. The brief notes on the collection and on Professor Scheller’s research in Melanesia were compiled by Tonya Stebbins (Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at La Trobe University).
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Professor Scheller was born 17.5.1921 in Zurich and died 24.4.1991. He is remembered by colleagues and former students as being modest, highly intelligent and original. He was also noted for his commitment to attention to detail, being very diligent and careful. He had a great sense of humour, surfacing in his lectures and also occasionally in the recordings held by PARADISEC.
Scheller suffered from ill health throughout his career and, along with his tendency to be highly critical of his own work, this resulted in him publishing relatively little. He was a supportive mentor for a number of students and was widely liked by colleagues.
His interest in languages was surprisingly diverse: this included Indology (after becoming emeritus, he apparently translated a poetic work from the Sanskrit) as well as interests in Slavic a Celtic languages Plus he seems to also have studied non-European/Indogermanic languages (Turkish, Georgian)
Scheller spent 7 months travelling in Papua New Guinea in 1966. The recordings in this collection were gathered during this period. It is clear that his interest in non-Indogermanic languages significantly predates this time since he lectured on "The language families of the world" in 1960/61, displaying his enormous knowledge of the diversity of world languages, and especially his knowledge of Melanesian/Papuan. Scheller’s Habilitation apparently included discussions on how alienable and inalienable possession play a role in Indogermanic and this may have been the start of his interested in a wider typological profile of languages, including the languages of Melanesia which frequently distinguish these categories.
• 1940 started studying Philology & Indogermanic languages in Zurich
• 1948 PhD in Zurich (Die Oxytonierung der griechischen Substantiva auf -i?)
• 1948-1954: numerous scholarships / assignments all over Europe (Prague, Paris, Munich, Oxford)
• 1956/57 Habilitation in Zurich (Vedisch priy?- und die Wortsippe frei, freien, Freund. Eine bedeutungsgeschichtliche Studie)
• Then: Worked in Zurich & Fribourg & Munich
• 1975 Prof in Zurich, built a new institute from scratch, including a very good library comprising descriptions of many languages across the world
• 1998 emeritus
These biographical notes are based on information in the following source. (Thanks to Birgit Hellwig for her assistance with translating this material).
Bisang, W; Rinderknecht, P. Von Europa bis Ozeanien — von der Antonymie zum Relativsatz: Gedenkschrift für Meinrad Scheller. Zürich, 15 - 37.