Heikki Ojansuu
Humanist of the day

Heikki Ojansuu

Heikki Ojansuu was a professor and researcher of Finnish and Finnic languages, studying Estonian, Karelian and Finnish dialects. Ojansuu is best remembered however as an expert on Finnish onomastics, or names, and old forms of the written language. His controversial view on the mother tongue of the Finnish translator of the Bible, Mikael Agricola, sparked a long-running academic cause célèbre.

Heikki Ojansuu

Heikki August Ojansuu
Born July 26, 1873, Tyrvää. Died January 18, 1923, Helsinki.

Master of Arts, 1899, Licentiate of Philosophy, 1901, Doctor of Philosophy, 1907, Imperial Alexander University

Professor of Finnish and Finnic Languages, Dean of the Humanities Faculty, 1922-3, University of Turku
Docent Teacher, Finnish Language and Literature, 1903-1914, Acting Professor of Finnish, 1905-1907, 1909, 1917-1919, Assistant, Finnish Philology, 1914-1922, Imperial Alexander University/University of Helsinki

Teacher of Finnish, Swedish-medium school for boys and girls, 1902-1905, Finnish School of continuing education, 1905-1906, Helsinki Finnish girls’ school extension classes 1906, Finnish Businessmen’s Commercial College, 1908-1919

Member of editorial board, 1899-1918, Editor-in-chief, 1904-1908, Virittäjä journal
Member, Student Matriculation (examination) Board, 1906-1910, 1912-1917
Member, Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, 1916

Photo: SKS / kirjallisuusarkisto
Written by Tomas Sjöblom
Translated by John Calton

Heikki Ojansuu compiled folk poetry and the dialect of his native Tyrvää already in upper secondary school, offering a list of dialect words to the Finnish Literature Society in 1896. The Finnish, Karelian and Estonian languages became the cornerstone of Ojansuu’s academic career. He received his Bachelor’s degree at the…

Read more

“We consider that a part of the language errors in the work of Agricola are such that they show that it is impossible that Finnish would have been his native language,” wrote Heikki Ojansuu, substitute Professor of Finnish at the Imperial Alexander University, in his extensive study Mikael Agricolan

Read more