Gustaf Ramstedt
Humanist of the day

Gustaf Ramstedt

The Swedish-speaking Finn, Gustaf John Ramstedt, was an internationally renowned Finnish man of science and diplomat. Ramstedt went on numerous expeditions to central Asia, Mongolia and Siberia between 1898 and 1912. He was a pioneer in the study of the Altaic language family, ranging from Turkish to Japanese. He was Professor of Altaic Languages at the Imperial Alexander University and for a few years he also held the position Professor of Phonetics. In addition to his university career, he was ten years a Finnish diplomat in Japan.

Gustaf Ramstedt

Gustav John Ramstedt
Born 22 October, 1873, Tammisaari. Died 25 November, Helsinki

Bachelor of Philosophy, 1895, Master of Philosophy 1898 and Doctor of Philosophy 1903 (language sciences), Imperial Alexander University

1917–1941 Professor Extraordinarius of Altaic Languages, University of Helsinki
1906–1917  Docent in Language Sciences, Imperial Alexander University
1918 Secretary to the Commander of the Salo White Guard
1919–1929 Finnish Envoy to Tokyo, Peking and Bangkok
1935–1936 Director of the Finnish Academy of Sciences
1936–1940 Acting Professor of Sanskrit and Indo-European Languages
1936–1940 Acting Professor of Phonetic Sciences

Photo: Museovirasto
Written by Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta
Translated by John Calton

Gustaf John Ramstedt's original intention when he began his university studies was to become a priest. Initially he threw himself into his studies of Latin, Greek and Hebrew, but his interest in linguistic sciences rather superseded his theological studies. Ramstedt came from a poor background and economic circumstances forced him into working life immediately on completion of his undergraduate studies in 1895. Over the course of several years he supported himself by teaching at the Finnish-medium Suomalainen Lyseo in Turku.

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