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May, 17, 2004 :: No. 250

Emeritus Professor Otto J. Sadovszky Dies

Otto J. Sadovszky, emeritus professor of anthropology at Cal State Fullerton, died May 12 of a brain aneurism. The Fullerton resident was 78 years old.

Colleagues, friends and former students are invited to share their reminiscences of Sadovszky at 5 p.m. Friday, May 21, in McCarthy Hall, Room 420.

Sadovszky joined the Cal State Fullerton faculty in 1970 and in 1971 was named the university’s first permanent director of academic advisement.

He was acclaimed in academic circles for his contributions in comparative linguistics. His formulation of the Cal-Ugrian Theory, which showed the linguistic connection between Siberian and California Indian languages, was considered a significant discovery by the international scholarly community. In 1986, the BBC aired a report on his linguistic discoveries. Sadovszky also was an authority on Siberian and American Indian shamanism.

On campus, he guided the linguistic research work of dozens of graduate students in the university’s Anthropology Department.

Though granted emeritus status in 1991, he continued to teach until 1994 and pursued his research interests in the years that followed.

Sadovszky, who grew up in Hungary during World War II, earned an advanced degree in philosophy at the Collegium Aloysianum in Italy and a doctorate in Indo-European studies and anthropology at UCLA.

He conducted linguistic fieldwork among the Washoe Indians at Lake Tahoe, as well as archeological fieldwork in cooperation with Princeton University and the Smithsonian Institute in Yugoslavia.

His special interests included linguistic and cultural prehistory, Indo-European languages (Sanskrit, Avestan, Hittite, Gothic, Old Irish), Siberia (Uralic linguistics) and California Indians (comparative methodology). Before joining the Cal State Fullerton faculty, he taught at UC Berkeley, UCLA, the University of Nevada, Reno and in Germany.

He also served as a member of the U.S. delegation on several international congresses and on the executive council of the Finno-Ugrian Studies Association of Canada.

He is survived by his wife, Maria, two children and two grandchildren.

Media Contact: Valerie Orleans, Public Affairs, 657-278-4540 or