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Fred Karlsson

Fred Göran Karlsson
Born February 17, 1946, Turku

Master of Arts 1969, Åbo Akademi University (Finnish language) and University of Turku (phonetics)
Master of Arts 1972 (linguistics), University of Chicago
PhD 1974 (phonetics), University of Turku
Docent in Finnish language 2012–, University of Helsinki

Emeritus professor of general linguistics 2012–, University of Helsinki
Professor of general linguistics 1980–2012, University of Helsinki
Research fellow 1976–78, Academy of Finland
Acting associate professor of Finnish language 1975, Åbo Akademi University
Lecturer in phonetics 1973–74, University of Gothenburg
Acting professor of phonetics 1973, University of Turku
Research associate 1969, University of Jyväskylä

Research areas: phonetics, morphology, syntax, automatic syntactical analysis, linguistic complexity, corpus linguistics, the history of linguistics, Finnish grammar

Membership of scholarly societies
The Finnish Society of Science and Letters 1984
Academia Europaea 1988
The Royal Society of Sciences at Uppsala 2005
The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities 2008

The Finnish Information Processing Association prize for best computing product of 1988 (together with Kimmo Koskenniemi)
Oskar Öflund Foundation prize 1988
Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters’ E. J. Nyström prize 1996
‘Professor of the year’ 1998, Finnish Union of University Professors
Commander of the Order of the lion of Finland 2003
Finnish Cultural Foundation award of merit 2013
A Man of Measure. Festschrift in Honour of Fred Karlsson on his 60th Birthday. Special Supplement to SKY Journal of Linguistics, Volume 19, 2006. Urho Määttä and Jussi Niemi (eds.) Turku: The Linguistic Association of Finland

Photo: Sylvi Soramäki-Karlsson
Written by Fred Karlsson (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Projects Funded by Outside Sources

I have led over 40 research and development projects, often collaborating with Kimmo Koskenniemi. The largest were the Centres of Excellence on computational linguistics. Thanks to Terhi Rissanen, a project carried out between 1982 and 1984 resulted in a general description of Finnish Sign Language.

In the 1990s we won a global contest organised by Harper Collins Publishers. The goal of the contest was the automatic parsing of a new edition of the English language dictionary Collins Cobuild, 200 million words of wildly varying English text. Thanks to Timo Järvinen, over a period of 20 months we managed to deliver 10 million words of text per month to Birmingham.

Between 2003 and 2006, together with Matti Miestamo and Kaius Sinnemäki, I delved into researching the complexity of languages.

An unusual research project was commissioned by the Swedish Forsmark nuclear power plant. Between 2007 and 2008 I was involved in the linguistic analysis of the power plant’s safety guidelines. The purpose of the research was to ensure the terminological and semantic consistency of these texts.

In the early 1980s our department had so many requests for research that the administrative officials started to lose patience with Koskenniemi and me. In 1986, one of them said “don’t come here with your contracts anymore.” Of course the rules and guidelines were unclear at the time, but for Koskenniemi and me it was the last straw, and we decided to found Lingsoft. More on that topic can be read on Koskenniemi’s 375 humanists profile page. In those days the Ministry of Education warned universities in no uncertain terms against collaboration with business and industry. Today they are singing a different tune…

Photo: Yliopisto-lehti.


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