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Arto Mustajoki

Arto Samuel Mustajoki
Born, December 20, 1948, Tampere
Four children, 11 grandchildren

Master of Arts 1970 (German Philology), PhD 1981 (Russian language), University of Helsinki

Professor of Russian Language and Literature 1982–2016, University of Helsinki
Vice-Rector 1992–1998, University of Helsinki
Dean 1988–1992 and 2014–2016, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki
Member of the Board of the Academy of Finland 2001–2006, 2014-
Chair of the Research Council for Culture and Society (Academy of Finland) 2001–2006
Chair of the Board of the Academy of Finland 2010–2014
Vice-President of Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, 2006-2008, President 2008-2010
Member of the Finnish Research and Innovation Council 2011-2015
International Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature (MAPRYAL), Member of Board 1981–, Secretary General 1991–2003, Vice-President 2003–

Research Student, Leningrad State University 1971–1973
Visiting Fellow, Cambridge University 1990–1991
Invited guest lectures abroad: Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Saratov, Simferopol, Almaty, Ulan-Bataar, Bishkek, Tartu, Tallinn, Budapest, Warsaw, Sofia, Basel, Oxford, Gothenburg

Recent publications

Full list of publications as of 2008

Publications in PDF-format

The most cited publication

Curriculum Vitae

Honours and awards
“Orden Druzhby Narodov,” President Gorbatshov 1990
Member of Finnish Academy of Science and Letters 1991
Commander's Cross of the Order of the Lion of Finland 1992
Honorary Doctor, Russian Academy of Science 1995
Honorary Professor, Moscow State University 1999
“Orden Druzhby,” President Medvedev 2010
Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland 2013

Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
Written by Arto Mustajoki
Revised by Matthew Billington

A reverse grammar

Traditional grammar books comprise chapters based on grammatical categories, such as “Nouns,” “Verbs,” and “Subordinate clauses.” Such an approach follows the principle “from form to meaning.” During the last 25 years, I have been working on an alternative model of description, which I call Functional syntax. It is based on the reverse principle, “from meaning to form,” which reflects the position of the speaker. Such a linguistic description answers the question “Which structures are used for expressing action, emotional state, request, negation, quantity etc. in language x?” For example, physiological state can be expressed in Russian, English and many other languages by using a set of different constructions. cf. I am cold, John has (got) a cold, John is in a coma; Мне холодно, Меня лихорадит, У меня грипп, Я болен, Ирина простудилась. In a traditional grammar these structures are described in terms of various parts of syntax, while in functional syntax they are discussed under one heading, “Physiological state.”

The first scholar who expressed the need to approach linguistic structure from the reverse perspective seems to have been Georg von Gabelentz in 1892. After him many other scholars have addressed the same issue, one of whom was the famous Danish linguist Otto Jespersen. The Russian scholar Lev Scherba, known for being an original thinker, used the notion of a speaker’s grammar in this connection, because it is the speaker who starts with the meaning. There have also been some practically oriented attempts to use this idea (e.g. Dik, Halliday and van Valin in the West and Bondarko, Miloslavski, Zolotova and Vsevolodova in Russia). My own model strives to be more comprehensive and systematic than previous ones.

The first version of the theory was published in Finnish in 1993. Its basic ideas are reflected in an article in Voprosy jazykoznanija

A book expounding the theory was published in Moscow in 2006 (and a second edition without changes in 2010). The painting by Wassily Kandinsky on the cover «Мечтательная импровизация» [A dreaming improvisation] symbolises the idea of the book.

An English summary of the book appeared in the Russian Language Journal in 2007.

The book Contrastive Functional Analysis by Andrew Chesterman (1998) is based on the idea of functional syntax.

Now our research team (Zinaida Sabitova, Leonid Birjulin, Tatjana Parmenova and I) is finalising the book Функциональный синтаксис русского языка (Functional syntax of Russian). We hope that it will be published by the end of 2016. An abridged English version is also under work.

At our department, two doctoral theses have been written on the basis of functional syntax theory:

Johanna Viimaranta. Talking about time in Russian and Finnish. Slavica Helsingiensia 29. 2006.

Arja Kirvesmäki. Выражение обобщенно-личного значения в русском языке. Slavica Helsingiensia 38. 2010.

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