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Artturi Kannisto

Born May 12, 1874, Kylmäkoski. Died March 10, 1943, Helsinki.

Bachelor of Arts, 1899, Master of Arts, 1900, Licentiate of Philosophy, 1919, Doctor of Philosophy, University of Helsinki

Docent teacher, Finno-Ugrian Languages, 1920–1907, Supernumerary Professor, 1927–1943, University of Helsinki

Finnish Language Teacher, Faculty of Jurisprudence 1910–1921, Imperial Alexander University (University of Helsinki)
Amanuensis, Finnish Language Seminar Library 1900, Imperial Alexander University
Research Trips to Russian Tobolsk and Perm Governorates 1901–1906

Member, Hungarian Academy of Sciences 1931
Member, Finnish Academy of Science and Letters 1922
Member, School Examination Board 1920–1943
Secretary, Finno-Ugrian Society 1919–35, Director 1935–1943
Founder and Board Member, Suomen Sanakirjaosakeyhtiö (Finnish dictionary Co) 1916–1924
Minutes Secretary, Society for the Study of English, Deputy Chairman, 1907–1909 and Chairman 1919–1920

Commander of the Hungarian Order of Corvinus, 1942
Hungarian Order of Merit, 1939
Honorary Member, Society for the Study of Finnish
Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, University of Budapest, University of Debrecen, 1935
Knight, Order of the White Rose of Finland, 1934

Named after Kannisto
Artturi Kannisto street, Helsinki, 1952

Photo: National Board of Antiquities
Written by Tomas Sjöblom
Translated by John Calton

The longest word in the Finnish language

Antturi Kannisto was born to a farming family and at a young age became interested in the family of languages that Finnish belongs to. In 1893 he enrolled in the university to study Finnish language and literature under Emil Nestor Setälä and to research the Finno-Ugric language family under Arvid Genetzin. Kannisto had a long career in both areas.

While he was still a student, Kannisto published a study called Äänneopillinen tutkimus Urjalan, Kylmäkosken ja Akaan murteesta (‘Phonetic research on the dialects of Urajala, Kylmäkoski and Akaa’, 1897). Two years later he graduated with a bachelor’s degree. Kannisto continued his research on Finnish dialects, which contributed to his book Lauseopillisia havaintoja läntisen Etelä-Hämeen kielimurteesta (‘Syntactic observations on the western South-Häme dialect’). This book is considered a pioneering work on the syntax of Finnish dialects.

In 1900, Kannisto had his Master’s degree conferred on him and he was named amanuensis for the Finnish Language Seminar Library at the Imperial Alexander University. The following year, however, he went on a five-year research trip to western Siberia to study the folklore and language of the Mansi.

Photo: Finland’s National Board of Antiquities​
Photo: Finland’s National Board of Antiquities​

Upon returning from Siberia, Kannisto continued to work in the University. He was appointed Finnish language teacher at the Faculty of Jurisprudence in 1910. He occupied this position for almost twenty years. In addition to helping law students with their language, he continued his studies in the Faculty of Arts. He finished his Licentiate degree in 1919 with his dissertation Zur Geschichte des Vokalismus der ersten Silbe im Wogulischen vom qualitativen Standpunkt. (‘Vocalisation in the first syllabus in Vogul [Mansi] from a qualitative standpoint’)

Kannisto was granted a docentship in Finno-Ugrian Languages in 1922 and five years later he was awarded the professorship in the same subject. It was said his favourite topics for lectures were languages distantly related to Finnish.

Kannisto played an active role in scientific societies outside of his teaching and research. He was a member of the Finnish schools examination board from 1920 and the Central Scientific Board from 1929. He worked as the secretary for the Finno-Ugrian Society from 1919–1935, and after that as the society’s director up until the end of his life. Kannisto was instrumental in founding a journal which published Finno-Ugrian studies by Finnish researchers.

Kannisto developed neologisms for the Finnish language, for example, elokuva (‘film’,‘movie’). He also came up with the longest word in the Finnish language, which is however completely meaningless since it is just a combination of affixes:  



Sources (in Finnish):

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