Schuchardt was born in 1842 in Gotha and graduated in Jena and Bonn with his exemplary doctoral thesis on the Vocalism of Vulgar Latin. His subsequent works went down in research history as well, such as his Leipzig postdoctoral thesis Über einige Fälle bedingten Lautwandels im Churwälschen (1870); his thesis marks the beginning of his debate with the Young Grammarians, which culminated in the pamphlet Über die Junggrammatiker - Gegen die Lautgesetze. His inaugural lecture in Leipzig opened a new chapter in Romance linguistics, as it illustrated for the first time the hypothesis of continuity with regard to the borders of language communities in an exemplary and programmatic way, thus scientifically establishing the wave theory.
In 1876 Schuchardt accepted the first chair of Romance Languages and Literature at Karl-Franzens-University Graz, which he held until his retirement in 1900. He was a member of numerous scientific communities and academies in Austria and abroad, and he continued to partake actively in the international scientific discourse. Up to his death in 1927, the scholar lived in Graz in his 'Villa Malwine' [this is the elder spelling, as it can still be read over the entrance], which he had built in Johann Fux Gasse 30, adjoining the Botanical Gardens that partly make use of the villa site. Until some years ago, this building housed the Department of Romance Philology, which has evolved from the chair of Schuchardt and nowadays consists of four professorships and a large number of further academic staff. Schuchardt founded several independent fields of research, for example creolistics; he paved the way in other fields as well (e.g. in language contact research, for which he was awarded the Prix Volnay). He worked intensely in various fields, such as phonology, the accent system, the verbal system, the relationship between Latin loanwords and the Romance languages, language contact and language affinity, the Basque language and the pre-history of the Iberian language; he dealt with philological text editions, and sometimes also with questions of literary criticism.
The correlation and separation of historical and elementary language affinity, based on Humboldtian terminology, led Schuchardt towards an interesting debate with language typologists, who were gaining ground then. Many of his works were and remain disputed, but it is still impressive with how much passion and meticulous attention to detail he carried out his research and contributed new and relevant insights to his field. He was often a traditionalist and an innovator at once. Transgressions of limitations marked his path - be it linguistic phenomena like language contact or the evolution of new languages, or be it his work in related scientific disciplines: he was, for example, a pioneer in interdisciplinary cultural studies, he worked with ethnology, anthropology, cultural history and pedagogy, and he investigated questions of language, ideology and politics.
Hugo Schuchardt bequeathed the stock of his private library and all his handwritten legacy to Graz University Library. The former is part of the University Library catalogue accessed via an external location while the handwritten legacy, which mainly consists of letters, is curated by the Legacy Department and was indexed in the 1990s. The Department of Linguistics runs a project for the online publication of the complete works of Hugo Schuchardt on a Hugo-Schuchardt-Homepage; this project also aims at exploring and editing step by step the correspondence and other posthumous material which is especially interesting from the perspective of science and the history of science.
In a will dating from the year 1917, Professor Schuchardt established a non-profit foundation which, in memory of his mother, was to be named "Malvinenstiftung", and which was intended to be a charitable trust with the objective of promoting scientific studies. He consigned its administration to the Faculty of Philosophy, which, after his death, took over the trust and committed itself to keeping it according to the benefactor's will. In its meeting of 8th March 1929, it resolved on a charter for the Malvinenstiftung which was accredited by the supervisory authority on the 2nd of May 1929. On the 18th of November, the Styrian Provincial Government acknowledged by official notification the legal personality "Professor Hugo Suchardt'sche Malvinenstiftung".
The foundation is administered by a board of trustees consisting of the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities as chairperson, the professors of the Department of Romance Philology and the Director of the Botanical Gardens of Graz University as members entitled to vote.
The intended purpose of the foundation (cf. Ziffer II Abs. 1 of the foundation charter in its relevant version, acknowledged by official notification of the Styrian Provincial Government as of 10th March 1985) is "the promotion of scientific research and training in Hugo Schuchardt's research field, most of all research in the languages and cultures of the Romance peoples and their relation to neighbouring cultures." The group of beneficiaries consists, among others, of professors, assistants, lecturers and students at universities and other institutions who are concerned with research and teaching in the philological fields.
This purpose is mainly served by
- awarding grants for the printing cost of papers in the field of Romance philology originating from the University of Graz
- editing scientific publications in the name of the foundation
- organizing lectures of external scholars
- awarding travel grants for research-related journeys and excursions.
In its meeting on the 25th of March 2003, the board of trustees resolved upon the following regulations for the awarding of grants by the 'Malvinenstiftung':
Grants for printing costs
The paper to be subsidized by the 'Malvinenstiftung' must demonstrate scientific merit and relevance and may not yet have appeared in print at the time of application. The board of trustees will have the quality of the paper checked by experts. Only if all public grants have been exhausted, will the foundation allow an application. In case a grant is awarded, the support by the 'Malvinenstiftung' must be mentioned in the printed paper.
An application must contain
- a short presentation of the research project, its aims and methods
- an overview of the costs together with the requisite publisher's calculation
- a documentation of all the previous applications for a printing cost grant, which public or private institutions they were addressed to, and what was the outcome (do include reasons for the dismissal of the application!)
- a print copy of the book or article (manuscript)
- reports and evaluations concerning the book or article
A grant for the publication of anthologies is only possible if the volume is sufficiently homogeneous and if all the articles in it are of high quality. In addition to the requirements for monographs mentioned above, the application must contain comments on how publishable the individual articles and the whole project are. The board of trustees reserves the right to gather expertise themselves. If the board of trustees considers individual articles not to be publishable, these articles must be excluded from the anthology in order to receive the grant. In case a grant is awarded, the support by the 'Malvinenstiftung' must be mentioned in the printed volume. After the publication, the' Malvinenstiftung' shall receive two free copies of the book or article.
Grants for lectures of external scholars
The application, which must be submitted before the lecture is held, must explain that the topic of the lecture to be subsidized is in accordance with the foundation's purpose and that the lecturer is academically qualified. The organizer of the lecture will undertake to appoint a time suitable for the public and to advertise the lecture sufficiently. Besides, a list of possible further supporters and the total amount of their grants must be attached.
Travel grants for research-related journeys and excursions
The application, which must be submitted before the journey starts, must explain that the journey or excursion to be subsidized is in accordance with the foundation's purpose. This involves information about the expected research output of the journey or excursion and whether the participants are able to achieve the scientific ends of the respective journey or excursion.
Only if all public grants have been exhausted, will the foundation allow an application for a travel grant. Documentation of all the previous applications for a printing cost grant must be attached; it should list the public or private institutions they were addressed to, and also show the outcome (do include reasons for the dismissal of the application!)
After the journey or excursion, the board of trustees will ask for a short final report. The foundation will not grant journeys for the purpose of learning international lingua franca or the main Romance languages.