Remembered by a Former Student
Published: Saturday, June 19, 2004
Andreas Tietze, Emeritus Professor of Turkish in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA, a member of the department from 1958 to 1973 and chairman from 1965 to 1970, subsequently holder of the Chair in Turcology at the Institute for Oriental Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria, from 1973 to 1984, died in Vienna on December 22, 2003. He is survived by his wife, the former Süheyla Uyar, and four children, Phyllis, Denise, Noor and Ben.
A world-renowned Turcologist and one of the founders of Turkic studies in the United States, Professor Tietze was best known for his contributions to Turkish lexicography, his work on Turkish riddles and Turkish Karagöz (Blackeye) plays, his editions and translations of Ottoman works, and his founding and editorship of an annual bibliography covering all aspects of Turkish and Ottoman life. He was also a translator of modern fiction, from German to Turkish, Turkish to German, and Azerbaijani to Turkish. His friends, colleagues and former students in both the US and Europe, many of whom hold leading positions in universities around the world today, remember him affectionately for his encyclopedic knowledge, high standards, diligence, modesty, accessibility and willingness to offer assistance with their knotty linguistic problems.
Professor Tietze was born in Vienna on April 26, 1914, the son of prominent art historians Hans Tietze and Erica Conrad-Tietze. He studied history and languages at the University of Vienna from 1932 to 1937, spent one semester at the Sorbonne in 1933, and received his doctorate from the former institution in 1937. A diary of two trips he made to Anatolia in 1936-37, kept by one of his companions (Unsere Anatolienreise and Die Zweite Anatolienreise, a photocopy of which is now in the archives of the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam), remains one of perhaps only two firsthand accounts by foreign visitors of life in those early days of the Turkish Republic as lived in the countryside outside of Istanbul and Ankara.
With the Nazi advance in Europe, Professor Tietze moved to Istanbul in 1937, joining many other prominent German and Austrian émigré scholars who found refuge in Turkey and employment at Istanbul University. There he was a Lecturer in German from 1938 to 1952, and a Lecturer in English from 1953 to 1958.
In addition to his teaching, he was an editor of a series of 16 titles, Istanbuler Schriften, that included his first reader for foreign students of Turkish, Türkisches Lesebuch für Auslaender (Istanbul, 1943), written jointly with Sura Lisie. He was also active in the field of folklore as co-editor and contributing translator on the Orientalist Hellmut Ritter’s monumental three-volume study of Turkey’s shadow puppet theater, Karagöz: türkische Schattenspiele (Hanover, 1924-53). It was at this time too that he became deeply involved in lexicography. He prepared a Turkish-German dictionary (Türkçe-Almanca Sözlügü) with Ritter, and from 1946 to 1958 he directed the American Board Publication Office project to revise the original Redhouse English-Turkish Dictionary of 1861 and the companion Redhouse Turkish-English Dictionary of 1890. Both works, now further updated, remain indispensable to students of Turkish. He also co-authored, with the scholars Henry and Renée Kahane, an etymological dictionary of Turkish nautical terms of Italian and Greek origin, The Lingua Franca in the Levant (University of Illinois Press, 1958). This work aimed to demonstrate the linguistic-cultural unity of the Mediterranean area.
In 1958 Professor Tietze became Associate Professor of Turkish and Persian at UCLA, one of the first appointments in the field of Near Eastern Languages at the university, and in 1960 he became Professor of Turkish. To meet the needs of his students, he published two readers sorely needed in those years when instructional materials, especially beyond the elementary level, were in short supply, Turkish Literary Reader and Advanced Turkish Reader: Texts from the Social Sciences and Related Fields (Indiana University, 1963 and 1973 respectively). Both works are still used by students today.
While at UCLA, Professor Tietze authored numerous articles and continued his research on folklore. Comparing the oldest collection of Turkish riddles, those found in a section of the 14th-century document known as the Codex Cumanicus, with related riddles from other Turkic sources, he described a new vision of this early work in The Koman Riddles and Turkic Folklore (University of California Press, 1966). With the folklorist Ilhan Basgöz he compiled Bilmece: A Corpus of Turkish Riddles, a large collection of the genre based on the efforts of several leading scholars (University of California Press, 1973). With his colleague Avedis K. Sanjian, Professor of Armenian, he edited Eremya Chelebi Kömürjian's Armeno-Turkish Poem "The Jewish Bride" (Budapest, 1981), a 17th-century work significant for its revelations about the Turkish spoken in Istanbul in the second half of that century and about the relations between the different religious communities in the turbulent period following the appearance of the self-styled Jewish Messiah Sabbatai Sevi. In recognition of his outstanding qualities as a teacher, he received a Distinguished Teaching Award in 1971. Throughout his tenure at UCLA Professor Tietze was instrumental in building up the holdings of Turkish and Ottoman books and manuscripts at the University Research Library (now the Young Research Library), making it one of the largest collections of such works in the United States and the largest collection in the West.
After spending the academic year 1971 as a visiting professor in the Institute for Oriental Studies at the University of Vienna, Professor Tietze returned there in 1973 to occupy the Chair in Turcology. In the same year he assumed the editorship of the journal Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, a leading European journal for Near Eastern studies. In 1975 he and György Hazai began editorship of what soon came to be an indispensable resource for students of all lands that had once been under Ottoman rule: the Turkologischer Anzeiger, an extensive annual international multilingual bibliography covering all aspects of Turkish and Ottoman life. During his Vienna years, in addition to teaching students from all over the world, Professor Tietze published the text, transcription and annotated translation of two important Ottoman Turkish sources for the history and culture of the Ottoman empire in the 16th century: Mustafa Ali's Description of Cairo of 1599 (Vienna, 1975) and Mustafa 'Ali's Counsel for Sultans of 1581 (Vienna, 1979).
Following his retirement in 1984, Professor Tietze continued to teach at the University of Vienna as well as at Bosporus University in Istanbul. In 1991 he published an annotated transcription of what appears to have been the first novel written in Turkish, Vartan Pasha’s Akabi Hikayesi (1851), a work little known because it was printed in Armenian characters for Armenian readers who spoke Turkish but had difficulty with the Arabic script that was used for Turkish at that time.
In his final years Professor Tietze embarked on perhaps his major project: a historical and etymological dictionary of the Turkish language of Turkey (Tarihi ve Etimolojik Türkiye Türkçesi Lugati, vol. 1, Istanbul and Vienna, 2002). Although he lived to see the publication of only the first volume of the projected seven-volume work, additional letters were ready for publication at the time of his death. Over a long productive life Professor Tietze received numerous awards for his service to the field, including four Festschriften in his honor. He will be remembered by the students he inspired and through his many enduring contributions to Turcology. May those who honor his memory see his final project to a successful conclusion.
Ralph Jaeckel is Emeritus Lecturer in Turkish, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, UCLA, and a former student of Professor Tietze.