Đorđe Kostić with the corpus material (picture
taken in 1959)
Đorđe Kostić (1909-1995)
was a linguist with broad interests that encompassed different areas of
linguistics – from experimental phonetics to speech pathology, from methodology
of learning foreign languages to methodology of rehabilitation of hearing
impaired, from automatic speech recognition to machine translation. He
is the author of more than 30 books and more than 150 papers published
in domestic and foreign journals.
* Kostić started with a research in experimental
phonetics in the mid thirties at the University of London as a student
of Daniel Jones, from whom he learned basics of research and methodology
in experimental phonetics. As a student he published two books: one with
Denis Fry (A Serbo-Croat Phonetic Reader, University of London Press,
1939) and the other with Isabel Garrido (English
grammar for Foreign
Students, Cambridge, 1935). Also, at that time Kostić published number
of papers on experimental phonetics. In the late thirties he started to
compile the frequency dictionary of Marko Miljanov, which he completed
in the mid fifties.
* In 1949 Kostić founded the Institute for Experimental
Phonetics and Speech Pathology, which was at that time part of the Serbian
Academy of Science. He was the director of the Institute till his retirement
in 1979. From the very start, the Institute was oriented not only towards
research in experimental phonetics, but also towards speech pathology and
the methodology of learning foreign languages. In 1953 Kostić established
the first laboratory for learning foreign languages in former Yugoslavia.
Within several years the Institute had more than 60 laboratories for learning
foreign languages and some 40 centers for rehabilitation of hearing impaired
in almost all parts of former Yugoslavia. Both in learning foreign languages
and the rehabilitation of hearing impaired Kostić developed his own methodology
and introduced new technological solutions (the KSAFA - Kostić Selective
Auditory Filter Amplification).
* In the mid fifties Kostić formed a group of
scientists of different profiles and started a project of automatic speech
recognition and machine translation. This project engaged more than 500
collaborators (most of whom were technical staff working on the Corpus
of Serbian Language). The project included automatic speech recognition,
transfer of recognized speech into a textual format, machine translation and speech synthesis.
The main part of the project was the grammatically tagged Corpus of Serbian
language, consisting of 11,000,000 words. For reasons not yet fully unveiled,
the project had to be suspended in 1962. Kostić published some of the results
of this research in the following books: Probability of grammatical
forms in Serbo-Croatian, IEPSP, 1965, Probability of phonemic
co-occurrences of Serbo-Croatian phonemes, IEPSP, 1965 and
and meanings of cases in Serbo-Croatian, IEPSP, 1965.
* Alongside with this project Kostić started
a project aimed at exhaustive description of how language was treated in
the history of philosophy. With a group that included the most prominent
philosophers in Belgrade he specified the methodology for this project.
The result of this project is some forty volumes of philosophical texts
dealing with language that span from Greek philosophy to the contemporary
* In the late sixties Kostić started collaboration
with world's leading statisticians (P. C. Mahalanobis and C. R. Rao) at
the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta. This collaboration, which
lasted for almost twenty years, included statistical research related to
problems of morphology, phonology and phonetics. As a result of this collaboration
Kostić published a number of books that deal with problems in the phonetics
of the languages of India. At the same time he had close collaboration
with University of Wisconsin (Superior) where he was a visiting professor
and had collaboration with American scientists on developing aids for hearing
Đorđe Kostić: Drawing (1930)
Museum of Modern Art, Belgrade
In addition to his scientific work, Đorđe Kostić
was also a poet and a painter. Being one of the founders of the Belgrade
surrealist group, he had published a number of texts and drawings in
Belgrade surrealist publications in the late twenties and early thirties.
In the span of thirty years he had published nine books of poems and three
books on Belgrade surrealism. Kostić had several individual exhibits of
his paintings in India (1971), the US (1975) and
France (1989). Some of his drawings and paintings are part
of the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Belgrade, while some are
reproduced in several monographs on contemporary Serbian painting (cf. M. Protić: The Contemporary Serbian Painting,
Nolit, Belgrade, 1970).