Arvid Genetz
Humanist of the day

Arvid Genetz

Arvid Genetz was a Finno-Ugrian linguistics researcher who focused on the Finnish family of languages. After a fierce contest, he was appointed the first professor of the subject. Genetz seemed to drift into politics more than being drawn in, even though he was an ardent Fennoman. He is also known as a poet under his Finnicized pen name Arvi Jännes.

Arvid Genetz

Arvid Oskar Gustaf Genetz (pen name Arvi Jännes)
Born July 1, 1848, in Impilahti, Died May 3, 1915, in Helsinki

BA (Finno-Ugrian Linguistics) 1871, MA 1873, licentiate and doctorate 1877 from the Imperial Alexander University in Finland

Study trip to Budapest 1878–1979

Professor of Finno-Ugrian Linguistics 1893–1901, Imperial Alexander University

Finnish language and literature docent 1877, professor 1891–1893
Lecturer in Finnish and Swedish languages at the Hämeenlinna lyceum (renamed the Helsinki lyceum in 1887) 1878–1891
Finnish language reviewer on the Bible Translation Committee 1886–1915
Church assemblyman 1903
Senator, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ecclesiastical Affairs 1901–1905
Clergy representative in parliament 1891
Director of the Society for Finnish Literature 1892–1902
Director of the Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation 1890–1906

The Finnish Society for Sciences and Letters National Award 1888 (for Kuolalapin sanakirja, ‘Kola peninsula dictionary’)

Photo: SKS / kirjallisuusarkisto
Written by Tomas Sjöblom
Translated by Joe McVeigh

The Impilahti-born Arvid Genetz completed his bachelor’s degree at the Imperial Alexander University in 1871. He majored in Finno-Ugrian linguistics under professor August Ahlqvist. He defended his doctoral dissertation on western Finnish dialects in 1877. The work is considered the first proper phonetic study in the subject.

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In addition to a career in linguistics, Arvid Genetz was also a political actor and poet. During his studies he participated in the politicization of the student union by initiating the 1872 ceremony to honour the 50th anniversary of when Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Elias Lönnrot and Johan Vilhelm Snellmann entered the university.

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