Turkologist Melikoff dies at 91 .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - Professor Irene Melikoff, a renowned scientist of Turkish language, died at 91 in France last Thursday. Melikoff had been receiving treatment at Strasbourg Hospital in recent months.

Melikoff was born in St. Petersburg in 1917 from an Azerbaijani mother and a Russian father. Her father took her to France to escape from the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. She majored in Eastern languages at Sorbonne University. There, she met and married Faruk Sayar, a lawyer and son of Turkey's renowned mathematician Salih Zeki. The couple returned to Turkey during World War II and lived in Istanbul and later Mersin. They had three daughters, who now all live in France. The couple divorced in the early 1950’s and Melikoff returned to France.

Melikoff studied English literature, eastern languages and the Turkish language and she was to become of the world’s best known Turkologists. Melikoff, a student of Professor Adnan Adıvar, focused much of her research the beliefs of the Alevi, a liberal sect of Islam, Bektaşi beliefs and Islamic Sufism, daily Hürriyet reported yesterday.

Turkish President Abdullah Gül expressed condolence for Melikoff’s death in a written statement, Anatolia news agency reported yesterday. "Irene Melikoff, who received many rewards for her contributions to improving Turkish language and our culture, will always be remembered with respect and love and will continue to live with her rich works," said Gül.

A ceremony for Melinkoff is scheduled to take place at the Azerbaijani House in Strasbourg today and her daughters are expected to attend. Her body will be buried later in Paris.