International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

Marcel Cohen (1884-1974) was one of the great French linguists of the 20th century. A disciple of Antoine Meillet, agrégé of grammar, specialist in Semitic languages (Gueze and Amharic), he was a professor at the National School of Oriental Languages and at the EPHE. Convinced that language is a social fact and of the usefulness of ethnography, he conducted surveys in Algiers, Abyssinia (1910-1911). Close to Marcel Mauss and Paul Rivet, he taught linguistics to students at the Institute of Ethnology from 1925. He was the closest collaborator of Antoine Meillet, who directed the publication of the collective book Les langues du monde (1925), which Marcel Cohen updated in 1952. He was the author of a profuse work under the banner of sociolinguistics.

Keywords: Linguistics | Sociolinguistics | French Ethnology | 20th century | France | Ethiopia | Amharic | Ge’ez